Young people in southern Africa continue to be among the most affected by HIV&AIDS, and young women and girls are the hardest hit. At MIET AFRICA, we are passionate about creating educational and development opportunities for children and young people to grow and thrive. In response to the challenges facing young people concerning sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), MIET AFRICA has developed innovative programmes to reach young people with youth-friendly SRHR education and appropriate support to gird them against the potential risks of HIV, teen pregnancy and gender-based violence, among others.
One important programme that is directed at decreasing teenage pregnancy and HIV infection is called Young Women and Girls: Keeping Girls in School. Education is a protective factor against HIV infection, and is known to reduce vulnerability, particularly for girls, and each year of schooling offers greater protective benefits. This programme therefore focuses on identifying girls who are at risk of dropping out of school and providing them with the appropriate support to ensure that they stay in school, or return to school if they have already dropped out. The programme includes: youth-appropriate health education that helps girls understand the consequences of unsafe sex; homework support; career guidance; and mobile health clinics to provide the necessary youth-friendly medical services, such as HIV testing and counselling.
For many girls in rural South Africa, Keeping Girls in School is making a difference about whether to leave prematurely—thereby increasing their vulnerability to HIV infection and early pregnancy, and limiting their life choices—or whether rather to stay on in school. For example, one of the programme’s peer group trainers visited the home of one of the girls to find out why she had been missing so much school. Upon learning that she was being bullied for not having a decent uniform and school shoes, the trainer and the school were able to get the necessary material support for her to return to school. Through the homework support and peer group sessions, the girl has built up her self-confidence; now she has a goal of finishing her schooling and finding a job where she can make a difference in the lives of others.

Keeping Girls in School: Health Education Poster
World AIDS Day—1 December 2016
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