WEST AFRICA SECONDARY SCHOOL, Accra
Home Aburi Girls Accra Academy Armed Forces Yaa Asantewaa St. Augustine's Chemu Sec West Africa
1. Chris B.L. Kwei
2. Ms. Victoria Affrifah
1. Patience Kurama Acheampong
2. Emmanuel Nana Ofori Korsah
3. Wiston Afoko
4. Jero Mangu
5. Michael Yirenkyi
1ST EDUCATIONAL GOAL
1ST EDUCATIONAL GOAL ACTIVITIES: BASIC FACTS
1. WHAT IS HIV?
HIV is the acronym for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
WHAT IS AIDS?
AIDS is the acronym for Acquired Immune deficiency Syndrome.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO?
AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV). When a person becomes HIV infected, the virus destroys
the cells of his body's immune system and progressively damages the body's
ability to fight infections or diseases. At this stage, the persons
has developed AIDS since his body cannot fight opportunistic infections
like coughing, fever and headaches. AIDS can be seen as the most
advanced form of HIV with the infected person having certain features like
vision loss, severe and persistent diarrhea and painful swallowing.
HOW LONG CAN SOMEONE HAVE HIV BEFORE DEVELOPING AIDS?
For children with HIV, it is 2 years and 10 years for adults.
HOW LONG DO MOST PEOPLE HAVE AIDS BEFORE THEY DIE?
This depends on the infected persons immune system but on the average,
it is 2 years and 3 years maximum.
HOW IS HIV TRANSMITTED?
HIV is transmitted through
(a) unprotected sexual contact with an infected person or partner. The virus can enter the body through the penis, the lining of the vagina, vulva, mouth or rectum during sex.
(b) Mother- to - child transmission during pregnancy or after birth through breast feeding.
(c) Transfusion of contaminated blood
(d) Sharing of sex vibrators
(e) Sharing of needles or syringes and razor blades contaminated with blood from someone infected with the virus.
HOW IS IT NOT TRANSMITTED?
(a) By talking with AIDS infected people;
(b) By sharing the same bed, clothes, towels:
(c) By sharing food and food utensils
(d) By shaking hands or embracing
(e) By sharing toilets seats or telephones
(f) From mosquito bites
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MYTHS ABOUT HOW IT IS SPREAD?
There is the belief that HIV is spread as a result of witchcraft, curse from our gods for certain wrong doings and a punishment from God for sins committed.
There is also the myth that HIV is spread through man-animal sexual
contact with special reference to monkeys.
HOW CAN THE TRANSMISSION OF HIV BE PREVENTED?
i. By using condoms;
ii. By abstaining from sex, especially when you are not married;
iii. By sticking to one sexual and faithful partner;
iv. By seeking medical advice and attention from the doctor if you are a pregnant mother so as to reduce the risk of transmission during pregnancy and after birth;
v. Women and girls should stop sharing sex vibrators;
vi. People who inject drugs must always use new injection equipment;
vii. People should stop sharing razor blades, needles or syringes;
viii. Syringes or needles should be sterilized before reused.
WHAT IS 'SAFE SEX"?
'Safe sex" to us means making sex as enjoyable and risk-free as possible. For this reason, a person can say "yes" to the sex he wants and "no" to the sex he does not want.
WHAT ARE THE HIV/AIDS STATISTICS IN YOUR COUNTRY?
*REPORTED CUMULATIVE AIDS CASES IN GHANA BY AGE AND SEX
1986 TO SEPTEMBER 2000
|0 - 4||341||103||323||201||664||106|
|5 - 9||77||0.3||76||0.5||153||0.4|
|10 - 14||69||0.3||41||0.3||110||0.3|
|15 - 19||661||2.6||111||0.7||772||1.9|
|20 - 24||3665||14.2||722||4.7||4387||10.6|
|25 - 29||5958||23.1||2366||15.3||8324||20.2|
|30 - 34||5342||20.7||3497||22.6||8839||21.4|
|35 - 39||3929||15.3||3316||21.4||7245||17.6|
|40 - 44||2290||8.9||2052||13.3||4342||10.5|
|45 - 49||1438||5.6||1458||9.4||2896||7.0|
|50 - 54||940||3.7||724||4.7||1664||4.0|
|55 - 59||416||1.6||353||2.3||769||1.9|
*National AIDS Control Programme
The first cases of AIDS were reported in Ghana in March, 1986.
By the end of the year a total of 42 cases had been reported to the health
authorities. The number of cases has been increasing steadily over
years with a cumulative total of 37,298 as at the end of 1999. As at September 2000 this number increased to 41,229 as shown in the table above.
The adult prevalence of HIV has increased steadily from 2.6% in 1994 to 4.0% in 1998. It now stands at 4.6%. 200 adults are AIDS infected everyday.
HOW DOES YOUR STATE/PROVINCE COMPARE TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY?
West Africa Secondary School is located in the Greater Accra Region
of Ghana. This region harbours Accra, the capital of Ghana.
Between January and September 2000, the region recorded the 4th highest
number of reported AIDS cases in Ghana by region. This stood at 10.5%
with the Ashanti Region recording the 42.4%, the highest. There was
no recorded csae for the Northern Region.
HOW DOES YOUR COUNTRY COMPARE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD?
There is low incidence of AIDS in the country as compared to countries
in Southern Africa. Surprisingly, Ghana has one of the lowest incidence
of AIDS in West Africa. The steady rise of AIDS is however becoming
(a) Number of people living with HIV/AIDS (all people with HIV infection whether or not they have developed symptoms of AIDS)
(b) HIV prevalence rate (the percentage for adults with HIV, calculated by dividing the estimated number of adults age 15 --49 with HIV by the adult population)
(c) HIV prevalence rate in young poeple 15 - 24 (usually given as a
range of percentages broken down into males and females)
Males: 0.76 - 1.96
Females: 2.40 - 4.44
(d) Number of AIDS orphans (sometimes only the cumulative total can be found - the total number of children under age 15 having lost their mother or both parents since the epidemic began)
(e) AIDS deaths (estimated number of adults and children who died of AIDS during a specific year)
TOTAL NUMBER OF DEATHS FROM MARCH, 1986 TO 1998 = 114,000
For 1999 Estimated number of adult deaths is between
12,000 and 35000
Estimated number of children deaths is between 2,600 and 7,200
IS ANY OF THIS INFORMATION NEW TO YOU? IF SO WHAT?
Yes, Information on Questions 4(b) to 4(e).
WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR INFORMATION?
Nation AIDS Control Programme and UNAIDS.
DO YOU HAVE ACCESS TO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SOURCES OF INFORMATION?
b) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
c) YOUR COUNTRY'S GOVERNMENT
d) NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS
Yes, we do.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM QUESTIONS:
(a) We have learned that it is not what you are that gives you HIV/AIDS
but what we do. If we protect ourselves and have the right attitude for and towards sex we will not contract HIV/AIDS.
(b) We had problems answering some of the questions, especially Question 4 but through questions and discussions with National Surveillance officers of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) and UNAIDS personnel, we had asnwers to the questions on Question 4. For some of the questions we had to surf the internet for possible answers. We did benefit a lot from www.ask.com on the issue of HIV/AIDS and how to conduct resarch before visiting the offices of NACP and UNAIDS. We also surfed to
www.safersex.com to read and be well informed about "safe sex".
(c) We have now acquired a few skills in the conduct of research.
(d) We have also learned that HIV/AIDS can infect all of us and from the statistics, we students are a target group. We have therefore decided to postpone sex until we marry.
WORLD HIV/AIDS COLLABORATIVE PROJECT
SECOND EDUCATIONA L GOAL ACTIVITIES
SCHOOL: WEST AFRICA SECONDARY SCHOOL,
WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT HIV/AIDS ANYWAY?
It is because it is a deadly
disease that has no cure
WHY IS IT AN IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR OUR COMMUNITIES AND COUNTRIES?
HIV/AIDS has become a pressing
issue to our communities and countries because what started as a health crisis
has now become a developmental and global issue with its devastating impact on
the economies of affected countries. HIV/AIDS
can exterminate groups of people in our communities and should therefore not be
Already, it has caused declines in the
populations of certain affected areas. Population
structure of affected communities and countries is likey to change.
HIV/AIDS strike mostly at
the youth between 15 and 45 years. For
developing countries where young
people constitute a greater proportion of the population , if
the HIV/AIDS issue is not addressed and the needed remedy found for it
then in no time, we may have a
greater proportion of adults in our communities
than the young. Productivity
will decline. Mortality rates for
both adults and children will definately change calling for leaders and
governments to reorganize, plan and implement new policies to suit the changes
in their economies.
That HIV/AIDS has become a
developmental issue can be seen from the point that the various sectors in our
communities are being adversely affected. For
example, persons engaged in agriculture, mining, education, transport, just to
mention a few are encountering the devastaing effect of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Persons who are economically productive are
losing their lives.
It has taken a global dimension,
because like the bush fire burning the grass
in the harmattan season, HIV/AIDS is spreading across countries and
national boundaries. It is for this
reason that the international community has shown concern and addressing
seriously the HIV/AIDS issue with
the support of international
organizations like the UN, UNAIDS, OAU, ECOWAS and the World Bank.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON ACTIVITY 2
THE IMPORTANCE OF HIV/AIDS
1. DOES HIV OR AIDS
AFFECT WOMEN DIFFERENTLY THAN MEN? ARE
MEN OR WOMEN MORE AT RISK FOR CATCHING HIV?
IF SO, HOW? AND WHY?
Our predecessors (last year's WASS
participants) had this to say on the firat sub-question above, "If we
consider the mode of transmission of HIV/AIDS,
then the same holds for both men and women.
The symptoms of the disease are the same resulting in death for both
sexes. The disease therefore does
not affect men and women differently."
We want to agree with our predecessors
that the end product of HIV/AIDS is DEATH but
disagree with them by saying that HIV/AIDS affect both men and women
differently. The facts and figures
that we provided in our first goal activities, indicate that in the Ghanaian
situation more women are at risk for catching HIV than men.
For instance, if we consider the data on the Reported Cumulative AIDS
cases by Age and Sex from 1986 to September, 2000 we had 25,753
AIDS infected females as against 15,475 for males.
There are a host of reasons that we can
advance to explain how and why Ghanaian women are more at risk for
catching HIV than their males. Despite
the fact that our women have rights which are found in books, practically these
rights do not exist. Many
women cannot question their husbands when they have sexual intercourse with
other women. Traditionally, men can
go for more women and not the other way round.
Women are therefore at the mercy of men. They cannot even refuse
to have sex with their husbands who have many sexual partners.
They have no right to ask or negotiate with their husbands to use
In certain cases, our women are coerced
into sex or raped by stronger men. They are indeed sexually abused by even their
husbands and are too shy to report persons they fall victim to.
Most women in Ghana have low incomes.
They cannot make ends meet. With
this situation, some of them are enticed into sex by richer men who they think
can meet their financial needs. Such
women tend to have multiple sex partners.
2. WHO IS MOST
VULNERABLE TO ACQUIRING HIV IN YOUR COUNTRY?
MEN, WOMEN, YOUTH, WHAT AGE? WHY ARE THEY MOST AT RISK?
Technically, we find this question to
be loaded but we shall attempt answering it by first being general and
then specific, hoping to find convincing answers to the sub-questions.
HIV is no respecter of persons.
It therefore affects all manner of persons, teachers, members of the
clergy, doctors, etc but the following are more vulnerable to acquiring HIV in
Sex workers or prostitutes. It
is for example on record that 80% of prostitutes in Accra, the capital of Ghana
are HIV positive. These sex workers
contracted HIV because they often engaged their customers in unprotected sex.
It is alleged that their male customers are ready to pay them well if
they do not "condomise" during sexual
Persons with multiple sex partners are easily prone to getting HIV.
Polygamous men fall in this group.
Persons who often travel far from their homes for pleasure and
occupational reasons. The first of
this group may include tourists; second, security personnel for example, armed
forces and police personnel and
customs officials. The third
,comprises nomadic Fulani herdsmen and commercial drivers. These groups of persons do not travel with their spouses.
For this reason they can contract
HIV if they have unprotected sex with other partners..
Ironically, security personnel who are supposed to be "combat
ready" are not "condom ready".
Thers is a fourth group.
This is a group of female porters or "kayayoos".
Most of them migrate to the urban centres from the rural areas to carry
goods of sellers and buyers in our markets.
The "kayaayo" is lowly paid for her services and largely
exploited. She has no decent place to lay her head after a hard day's
work. With this
condition, she can fall victim
to all forms of sexual abuse
Like the "kayaayoos", street
children can also contract HIV. These
children ,who are commonly found in
our towns and cities, especially in our commercial centres, self- medicate and
hardly have knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases, STDS and HIV.
Women in areas where female genital mutilation is still practised can
also contract HIV. In Ghana, this
practice is common in the Northern, Upper-East and Upper-West Regions. It is also practised in our :"zongos" found
mostly in our cities and towns. The practice involves the use of cutting
equipment especially knives and razor blades to cut the clitoris of women.
Other parts of the vagina may also be cut and stitched later.
Such cutting equipment or instruments which are not sterilized and
autoclaved, may be used on a long
line of girls and women in turns.
Medical practitioners and other medical personnel who attend to HIV/AIDS
patients in the surgical theatres can also contract HIV if they do not properly
dispose of items like needles, etc which are stained with the blood of infected
persons. This is possible in the
Ghanaian situation where due to certain constraints cutting equipment may be
used over and over again.
People who are ignorant and misinformed are also vulnerable to HIV. The
illiteracy rate is very high in Ghana. Besides
our communication network is not satisfactory.
In view of these problems, persons in remote and not endowed parts of the
country do not have basic facts about HIV/AIDS.
These people may easily acquire and spread HIV.
Specifically, available records show
than more women in Ghana have acquired HIV/AIDS than men. We have already advanced reasons for this situation.
However, a critical look at the data and figures we provided in our 1st
Educational Goal Activity on 7th April, 2001, show that if the age groups are
considered, then the youth are more vulnerable to acquiring HIV than the adults.
Persons in the group which we consider as the youth comprises persons
between 20 and 44 years as depicted in the Reported Cumulative AIDS cases by Age
and Sex from 1986 to September, 2000 . The
worse vulnerable group is made up of those in the 25 to 39 years range.
The passion for sex in this young people is naturally stronger than the
adults hence the higher infections of HIV/AIDS for the group.
The recorded data shows that among the youth,
young females or girls are more vulnerable to acquiring HIV than young
males or boys. Through our group
assigned reasons for this.
· We found out that girls usually give in to elderly men due to the respect we have for our elders. They therefore find it difficult to say no to the sexual demands of such men.
They are also enticed into sex by rich
men. Some are even raped by
older and stronger men.
For girls in schools, "sugar
daddies" buy gifts and pay their school fees for them in return for sexual
3. WHAT EFFECTS HAS
HIV/AIDS HAD ON YOUR COMMUNITY'S CULTURE?
In the Ghanaian society, men who go in for small girls are looked down
upon and as such seen as wrong doers. Such
men are at times rebuked for having sex with girls.
However, for fear of contracting
HIV/AIDS, elderly men are now going for young girls claiming the girls
are HIV/AIDS free. Rape and
defilement of girls is now on the increase in the country.
Traditional chiefs who normally address
only their subjects in their areas of authority now go beyond these areas
by appearing on our national television and radio
stations to bring HIV/AIDS awareness to the entire Ghanaian population.
For most Ghanaians, sex education for
boys and girls is a taboo -something unheard of- but with the devastating
nature of HIV/AIDS people now discuss and educate their children on sex.
Books on Social Studies now have contents on sexually transmitted
diseases.Education on AIDS is also vigorously pursued by the Ghanaian press.
Musicians are also playing their part in the fight against the pandemic.
Number of sexual partners is now on the decrease.
Women do not want to be "second wives", "third
wives", etc. Most of them now
detest polygamous marriage. They do
not even bow to family pressures to have polygamous men as husbands.
Ghanaian men and women, especially the educated and well-informed, are
now "condomising". Sexually
active persons now carry condoms in their wallets and purses and not money.
At times, students (boys) may be seen by chance having condoms in their
bags and wallets.
Ghanaians are noted for their hospitality.
We are friendly and have the we-feeling for everyone in our community.
We do things together, eat together etc. but this sense of hospitality
may not be felt or experienced when one comes into contact with and HIV/AIDS
patient. Hand shakes, eating
together, etc are all out. Discrimination
now starts once your new status is known by your friends, relatives and even
co-workers. You just look like an
outcast to the uninfected.
4. WHAT EFFECTS HAS
HIV/AIDS HAD ON LIFE EXPECTACY IN YOUR COUNTRY?
a situation where a sizable proportion of a
country's youth is HIV/AIDS infected in
relation to the total population, then there will be a sharp decline in life
expectancy. Many young people will
die early. This is certainly not
the case in Ghana although the recorded cases show that a larger number of young
people has acquired HIV than the elderly. The
ratio of these infected young people to the entire population is low. Hence the
death of these infected group of people, not at a go, will not have any
considerable effect on life expectancy in Ghana.
However, suppose we have a situation where for example, there is a
considerable increase in the two age
groups - 25-29 and 30-34 years. Taken
into consideration, the fact that most adult AIDS infected persons can live on
the average for 10 more years, then we can estimate that life expectancy in
Ghana may decline to the range of 39 and 44 years in the near future.
Presently, Ghanaians live longer due to
improved health facilities provided by our past and present governments.
More people now have access
to improved water and other facilities like electricity which have improved the
quality of life despite the existence of low incomes.
Ghanaians now live longer with the life expectancy above 54 years.
We surfed the website of
www.longtolife.com and tried working with the life
expectancy calculator. We
found it interesting. For those of
us who could not know the days on which we were born, the use of the calculator
brought this to our knowledge. Wiston
Afoko now knows the day he was born. We
were all happy that the calculator stipulated a longer life span for
us. At least , partcipants
in our group can now say we
have a life expectancy of 84
years which is higher than that of Ghana's.
We however want to question the
apparent bias of the manufacurer of the calculator for selecting most of the
diets not taken by Ghanaians. He
could have considered our "fufu:", "banku" and okro soup. May be, we are also being biased but better still, he could
have considered rice. tomato, pepper and bread which are consumed by most people
in the world.
Despite, the long life span which the calculator has been able to predict for
us, we found out that the designers of this caclculator did not take into
consideration certain unforseen events like accidents which can prematurely send
us to our graves.
We are most grateful to have such a
calculator on the net for our teachers and students to check on their life
styles with the view to living longer. Thank you.
5. WHAT ARE THE
ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF HIV/AIDS?
HIV/AIDS mostly strike at persons who are economically productive hence
the pandemic can contribute to a decline in a country's labour force.
As a school we can say that it can lead to a fall in the number of
teachers in our schools and universities if our teachers do not practise safe
With a fall in its labour force, a country's productivity and growth
levels are also likely to decline.
When HIV/AIDS strikes it will result in increased personal spending on
HIV/AIDS can reduce the personal savings of infected persons who may
resort to seek support from friends and relatives, borrow and even sell their
personal properties in order to get money to meet their health care expenses.
Children of infected parents may discontinue school since their parents
cannot afford to pay their school fees.
HIV/AIDS can also have devastating effect on food security in the family.
Family members may not be well fed if the infected person is the
bread-winner. Food consumption per person is likely to drop.
There would be no time for child-care and training.
Children may therefore go way-ward. Welfare of family members in the end
(h) Government spending on health
care and treatment of HIV/AIDS patients will rise as hospitals which provide
services for these patients are being over taxed and stretched.
6. CAN YOU BE TESTED
FOR HIV/AIDS? WHY SHOULD SOMEONE BE
TESTED FOR HIV? HOW EASY IS IT TO GET TESTED WHERE YOU LIVE? IF SOMEONE IS WORRIED THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO
HIV, WHEN SHOULD THEY GET TESTED? HOW
LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET HIV TEST RESULTS WHERE YOU LIVE?
Yes, persons who want to be
tested for HIV/AIDS are at liberty to so. In
Ghana, there is no restriction to HIV test.
We have the right to know
whether we are HIV positive or HIV negative.
We therefore see people going voluntarily for HIV/AIDS test even when
facilities for the test are brought to their door-steps.
There are various reasons why
people should be tested for HIV. These
i.. Taking care of your health.
By getting tested for HIV, an infected person will have the opportunity
to seek treatment that will
prolong his life. Knowing of his
HIV positive status, he will take precautions so that he does not infect others.
Entering into marriage. Couples
who want to enter into marital relations are now required by
marriage counsellors in their churches to have HIV test. These churches have selected hospitals, clinics and HIV test
centres which conduct the test on the couples.
Should any of the couple test positive, the counsellor handles the
situation expertly with the couple for them to decide on whether they want to
marry or not. They church does not
kick against the decision of the
couple to marry.
Condition for jobs. Some
business establishments and institutions, request
persons who apply for jobs to undergo medical test.
Should the test prove that you are HIV positive, you will not be offered
Condition for VISA. For
persons who want to travel abroad, one of the requirements for the acquisition
of a VISA is being HIV negative hence the need for HIV test.
This is internationally unacceptable but some applicants for VISA have to
satisfy this requirement.
Persons who go for HIV test, enable the compilation of data on those who
are HIV positive so that for the sake of planning,
the government can comprehensively or partially address
It is easy to have HIV test in Ghana
and precisely in Accra where we live. HIV
test is free. You can enter any of
the test centres to have a test of HIV. Some
Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) also offer HIV test services to the
Ghanaian public. These NGOs
complement government efforts by extending their services to the rural areas
where HIV test centres are not available.
There is no need for people to get
worried about having been exposed
to HIV. A person
must for the following reasons go for HIV test now:
A person may go for a first test and be
declared HIV positive but when he
goes for a retest preferably six
months after the first, he may be declared HIV negative.
If you are found to be HIV positive
after the test, it will rather allow you to take care of your health in order to
prolong your life.
Such tests will rather influence the
person to have a positive behavioural attitude towards sex.
HIV test results are highly confidential.
The names of HIV positive persons are not made public in Ghana.
It takes on the average 3 to 7 days to
receive the results of HIV test in Accra.
7. WHAT SHOULD SOMEONE
WITH HIV DO TO PROLONG THEIR LIFE?
Such persons should:
a. Stick to drugs and therapy
prescribed or recomended by their doctors.
They should also adhere to the prescribed dosage and drug-combination and
should not self-medicate.
Consistently and correctly use latex condoms if they cannot abstain from
Use fresh razor blades and needles.
They should not share razor blades and other cutting equipment.
d.. Take in a well-balanced diet.
Not worry about the disease but relax and get involved in social and
economic activities that will not be harmful to their personal health.
Regularly visit the clinic for check-ups.
g. If they are pregnant women who are
HIV positive, take the AZT drug
during pregnancy, birth and delivery and give their babies the same drug during
six weeks following birth so that they do not transfer the HIV to their babies.
8. ARE INJECTING DRUGS
AN ISSUE WHERE YOU LIVE? WHAT ABOUT
SHARING NEEDLES? TATTOOING?
PIERCING? RAZOR BLADES?
Injecting drugs is of great concern to
the people of Ghana. Even before
the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported, government had been totally against
this practice as most drug users were injecting cocaine into their blood stream
and losing their minds. People who
inject drugs are not easily caught since they hide to do this.
Sharing of needles is not much of
public concern now since the govermnent and the Ministry of Health have directed
all hospitals, clinics and other health centres to dispose of all used needles.
Besides, members of the public
have been well educated on why needles should not be shared.
Tattooing and piercing are also of
great concern to us since the instruments used are shared by many clients.
Officials from our local and district authorities occassionally organize
workshops on the need to sterilize these instruments.
Hair-dressers and barbers have also
been educated not use the same razor blades for their clients since contaminated
razor blades can spread HIV. The
problem however, is that family
members usually share the same
razor blade and other cutting instruments.
Due to family ties and affection for one another, they take for granted
the issue of sharing razor blades
and other cutting instruments until a member of the family contracts HIV.
Back Prev Next Reply Reply All Forward Delete Print Source [WorldClient]
From: "chris kwei" <email@example.com>
Date: 06/25/01 09:05:27
Subject: [world-aidsproject] WASS 3rd Goal Activities
"CHALLENGES TO HIV PREVENTION"
TALKING ABOUT HIV
(A) IS IT EASY TO TALK ABOUT HIV/AIDS WITH FRIENDS? HOW MANY OF US TALK
ABOUT HIV WITH OUR FRIENDS? WHAT DO WE TALK ABOUT?
In trying to respond to the questions above, we interviewed 70 students in our school.
Out of the 70 students interviewed, 40, that is 57.1% claimed it is easy talking to friends about HIV/AIDS. 30 (42.9%) said it is not.
Only 10 of the students said they talk to their friends about HIV/AIDS. They said, they are able to do so after watching films and attending talk shows on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. Two of this group of
students said they are HIV peer educators.
Asked about what they talk about, they said they discuss the dangers HIV/AIDS has in store for them and have decided to abstain from sex. Some of the student respondents were however of the view that there are "bad nuts" (friends who are sexually active) who should be encouraged to use condoms..
Others said film and talk shows should be organized for their friends with the view to ensuring HIV/AIDS Awareness and Prevention.
We can infer from the responses of the students that a lot of them find it easy talking to their friends about HIV/AIDS. Most of them will have the motivation to talk to their friends about HIV/AIDS if they are given
the opportunity to attend film/talk shows on HIV/AIDS.
(B) IS IT EASY TO TALK ABOUT HIV WITH PARENTS? HOW MANY OF US HAVE
TALKED WITH OUR PARENTS ABOUT HIV/AIDS? IF WE DO, WHAT DO WE SAY? WHAT
DO THEY SAY? IF WE DON'T , WHY?
Majority of the above respondents said, they do not find it easy discussing HIV/AIDS with their parents. 10 of them claimed, it is easy.
Out of the 70 respondents only 3 (4.3%) have talked to their parents about HIV.
Out of the 3 respondents, talked to their parents about HIV, one (1) said he did so with a lot of reservation. The two (2) others were able to talk to their parents after watching a television programme on HIV/AIDS with their families. One of the two, also said she talked about the disease because she recently lost an aunt who died of AIDS
Those who talked to their parents about the disease mostly mention the devastating effect of the disease.
Some of the respondents also claimed that they are not encouraged to talk about the disease since their parents consider them "too young" to discuss it. We were therefore not surprised when one of our Assistant Headmasters, who chanced on one of our interviews said, "It is the parents who should talk to the children about HIV/AIDS and not the children."
Most of the respondents also feel they do not talk about the disease to their parents since they are not HIV positive.
(C) IS IT EASY TO TALK WITH HEALTH WORKERS ABOUT HIV/AIDS? ARE YOUTH
AND THEIR QUESTIONS AND OPINIONS WELCOME IN OUR LOCAL CLINICS? WHY OR
It is highly easy to talk with most health workers about HIV/AIDS. Despite the lack of motivation and the existence of low incomes, Ghanaian health workers welcome all interviews and respond to all manner of questions related to HIV/AIDS. This was totally evident when we interviewed the doctor and the nurses at the Swan Clinic at Adenta,
Accra. They were just friendly and accommodative.
THE INFLUENCE OF CULTURE
(A) DOES YOUR COMMUNITY HAVE ANY TRADITIONAL PRACTICES THAT HAVE HELPED
TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF HIV? IF SO, WHAT ARE THEY?
Yes, the Ghanaian community has a lot of traditional practices that can prevent the spread HIV. From the interview we had with a few persons in the Adenta, Madina and Maamobi areas of Accra, we have enumerated some of these practices below:
I. INITIATION AND PUBERTY RITES:
These rites are performed in order to lead boys and girls into adulthood. In the performance of these rites, girls, who have reached the age of puberty are taught the ideals of womanhood. They are therefore prepared for sexual life and marriage. Girls found to be pregnant during these rites are punished and are not allowed to participate in this ceremony. This is seen as a disgrace to the girl and her family. To avoid such embarrassment and disgrace, many girls abstain from sex.
These rites are commonly associated with the "dipo" of the Krobos and "Bragoro" of the Akan.
ii. PREMARITAL SEX IS A TABOO:
Premarital sex is a taboo in many Ghanaian communities. It is for example believed among the Dagomba that a woman will incur the wrath of the gods if she engages herself in sexual intercourse before she is married. Such a person is cursed and will suffer the repercussions during and after marriage.
iii. PERIODIC SEXUAL ABSTINENCE:
Ii is also the tradition of people in certain parts of northern Ghana to abstain from sex during certain periods of the year. For example, the Dagomba, Nanumba, Wala and Gonja are by tradition required to abstain from sex during the Damba festival.
iv. CHOICE OF PARTNER
In the past, it was the general practice of parents and family elders to look for wives for boys who had reached adulthood. To do this, they normally considered the background of the girl, her moral conduct, etc before "the knocking" was done for her marriage. If she was found to have a weak moral background in terms of sex, etc she was not married.
(B) DOES YOUR COMMUNITY HAVE ANY TRADITIONAL PRACTICES THAT HAVE HELPED
SPREAD HIV? IF SO, WHAT ARE THEY?
Yes, there are a host of traditional practices, some of which are considered below but there is no supporting evidence that they have contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Ghana:
(a) Female genital mutilation is a traditional practice in parts of northern Ghana especially in Navrongo, Paga and Sandema areas. With this practice, the clitoris of young girls and women are cut with razors and other cutting equipment before they are married. At times, these cutting instruments are used on a group of girls at a particular
ceremony and may contribute to the spread of HIV
(b) At most fetish shrines, razor blades and knives are used to smear the bodies of patients who visit the shrines. After this the fetish priest put some black powdery substance in the marks for healing and protection. Such cutting tools are often reused on other patients without their knowledge.
(c) Some people also share piercing instruments to tattoo their faces by having what we call :tribal marks as some sort of tribal identification.
(d) Muslims shave the hairs of new-born babies a week after delivery claiming their "first hair is bad luck." They therefore have the "wanzam" (circumciser) who move from house to house in the communities to shave and circumcise these babies.
Shaving is also common with the "dipo" puberty rites. Incisions are also made on the wrists and thumb of every "dipo" girl to show that she has gone through the initiation ceremony.
(e) People in polygamous marriage can also help the spread of HIV.
(C) HOW DO YOU KNOW WHETHER A TRADITION PREVENTS OR ENCOURAGES HIV
We are able to know this through programmes on our television, radio, in films, from handouts distributed by NGOs and a few religious bodies.
We must however stress that discussions on traditions in our homes are rather aimed at maintaining cultural identity and morality without specific reference to HIV.
(D) DO PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY TALK ABOUT THESE PRACTICES, WHETHER THEY
ARE GOOD OR BAD FOR THE PEOPLE IN YOUR AREA? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Yes, people talk about these practices. Some claim they are good. Persons, in this group, are of the opinion that these practices have been passed on to them by their ancestors and therefore should be maintained. These practices also make them distinct from other tribal groups in the country It is therefore not surprising that despite the
pains that victims of female genital mutilation went through they want other girls to go through this initiation. For such victims, the practice is necessary for girls to be taught about marriage, child-bearing and responsibilities attached to family life.
People have also been made aware, through the radio, television, newspapers, resource persons and human rights activists, to see the bad aspects of theses traditional practices. Some Muslim men interviewed, see female
circumcision as a cheat on women. They now see it as an abuse of women and the girl child and an infringement on their rights.
THE INFLUENCE OF ECONOMICS
DOES THE ECONOMIC SITUATION IN YOUR COUNTRY PLAY A ROLE IN HIV
TRANSMISSION? WHAT EVIDENCE CAN YOU GIVE TO SUPPORT YOUR ANSWER?
Many of the persons interviewed, affirmed the view that the Ghanaian economy plays a contributory role in the spread of HIV. The respondents gave the following reasons as evidence:
i. the existence of low incomes compels some Ghanaian women to consciously or unconsciously supplement their meagre incomes by having sex with multple male partners.
ii. The economy is also characterized by a high rate of unemployment especially in the urban centres. Some of our women are therefore trading sex as a profession and means of livelihood.
iii. The "cash and carry" system being implemented by our health authorities does not ensure accessibility to health facilities by many Ghanaians. HIV positive persons who may not receive treatment due to high medical expenses may continue to spread the disease.
iv. The poverty nature of the economy is even epitomized by the number of street children which the country is breeding. These children, due to poverty, will do anything in order to survive. Having sex is one of the means by which they survive.
v. Due to our HIPC (Highly Indebted and Poor Country) status, Ghana has not got enough resources to promote
HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and care. Given the condition that incomes are low, resources from donor countries and international institutions may find their way into private pockets.
We will like to state emphatically that whatever contributory influence the economy has on HIV/AIDS it is not direct but rather it is our behaviour and attitude that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS is now a global pandemic. It is experienced in both rich and poor economies. The spread of HIV/AIDS must therefore be seen as a
THE INFLUENCE OF GOVERNMENT
(A) DOES YOUR COUNTRY HAVE A POLICY TOWARDS HIV/AIDS? CAN YOU TELL US
A LITTLE ABOUT IT?
Yes, the country has a policy towards HIV/AIDS.
The objective of the policy is geared toward preventing and mitigating the spread of HIV/AIDS and to prevent mother-to-child transmiision.
To ensure achievement of this objective, the government intends to adopt the following strategies.
Ø Condom Promotion
Ø Blood Safety
Ø Promotion of Safe Sex
Ø Management of sexually transmitted diseases
Ø Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT)
Ø Prevention of mother to child transmission
Ø Nursing and clinical Care
Ø Counseling and home based care.
The policy is presently in its draft state and about to be finalized for its adoption and implementation.
(B) DOES YOUR GOVERNMENT DO ANYTHING TO AFFECT THE PREVENTION OR
TREATMENT OF HIV/AIDS? IF SO GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT IT DOES.
In 1985, the government of Ghana established the National Technical Committee(NTCA) on AIDS to monitor the spread of the disease in the country. In 1987, the government established the National AIDS/STD Control Programme to check the transmission of the disease and to mitigate its effects on the economy.
However, the disease continues to spread at an alarming rate. To apply the necessary brakes, the government of the New Patriotic (N.P.P.) has established the Ghana AIDS Commission, which is based in the Presidency to fight the disease which has been described as a "national disaster" by the Ghana Medical Association.
It has also called on all the vital sectors of the economy to promote HIV/AIDS prevention and care activities. In this direction, the key sectors have drawn sectoral plans on HIV/AIDS
THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION
(A) HOW DO YOUR LOCAL CHURCHES, MOSQUES, SYNAGOGUES ETC. FEEL ABOUT
HIV/AIDS? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT HIV/AIDS?
We interviewed two Muslims on the questions raised above. One of them had this to say, "Muslims think looking at the way the moral fabric of society has sunk, low AIDS has been delayed in coming." He said, "Sex before marriage is on the increase. Girls now expose their vital parts by not dressing properly and there is no parental supervision of boys and girls." He concluded, "AIDS is inevitable looking at the direction society is heading."
The other muslim, who is an opinion leader at Maamobi, a suburb of Accra, said, "To muslims HIV/AIDS is a serious issue which has come to destroy families and communities" and stressed on the need for society to find a cure.
We also interviewed a few Christians. A member of the Deeper Life Church was of the view that "AIDS is an earthly issue and that what is important to Christians is salvation." She went on to say that they do not talk about HIV/AIDS since none of their members has the disease.
Others see HIV/AIDS as a punishment from God as a result of man's immorality.
We are able to know about what muslims and christians think about HIV/AIDS through our day to day interactions with them. In spite of their religious differences muslims and christians live peacefully. This is even seen in the Ghanaian political arena. We are proud to have a Christian President and a Muslim Vice-President. It's just
(B) ARE HIV AND AIDS DISCUSSED AT YOUR LOCAL CHURCH ETC? WHAT IS SAID
ABOUT HIV/AIDS? WHAT IS SAID ABOUT PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS? DO
THESE WORDS AFFECT THE PREVENTION OF HIV OR THE TREATMENT OF AIDS
SUFFERERS? IF SO, HOW?
Apart from the respondent from the Deeper Life Church, all other respondents said they discuss HIV/AIDS in the churches and mosques The muslims claimed that HIV/AIDs issues are discussed in the mosques especially on Fridays. Imams and Ulamas (Islamic scholars) lead the discussions.
Among the Christians, it seems the members of the Jehovah Witnesses group have been making conscious effort to discuss the disease. Evidently, two members of the group produced three (3) copies of the "Awake!"
magazine to support their claim. Just for your reading pleasure you may consider these three editions of the magazine:
Awake! Nov. 8, 1998, "The battle Against AIDS Will it be won?"
Awake! Oct. 8, 1988, AIDS A Global Killer. How can you Protect
Awake! Apr. 22, 1986 Who Are at Risk? How can you Protect
It seems the other churches mention HIV/AIDS not with much intents and purposes and the pandemic is occasionally talked about among the youth of the church.
We have mentioned above what religious people think and say about HIV/AIDS. This is what they also say about people living with AIDS. They see them as people who have done bad things against morality and are being punished for their misdeeds and sins. Some feel these persons contracted HIV/AIDS as a result of adultery and fornication and are being punished.
Some even see it as a punishment from God. This view, as usual is not supported by a Catholic clergyman at Madina. According to him, looking at the concept for God , God does not punish. People only contract HIV/AIDS as a result of the fragile nature of man.
What is said about AIDS persons by our religious leaders as well as civil society is very demoralizing and frustrating. Words from the pulpits do not even encourage people to disclose their HIV/AIDS status. The reason is that other people shun their company when they disclose their new status. In fact there is a lot of stigmatization and
discrimination towards HIV/AIDS patients despite the education and awareness that we can do a lot of things in common with AIDS persons without contracting the disease.
Due to this stigmatization and discrimination, people are not ready for blood test and this on many occasions have caused shortage of blood in our blood banks. A Muslim had this to say , "with such discrimination, it pays to lie low and die in a more respectable manner."
(C) IS YOUR LOCAL CONGREGATION DOING ANYTHING TO PREVENT HIV OR DIMINISH
THE EFFECTS OF AIDS? IF SO WHAT?
It looks to some extent that only a few of our local churches and mosques are doing something to curb the spread of HIV. The muslims have the Moslem Family Counselling Services (MFCS). With the support of UNICEF, UNFPA and CEDPA, MFCS organises HIV/AIDS workshops and programmes for Imams and muslims in their communities.
Most churches in the areas - Adenta, Madina and Maamobi- are mostly using the pulpits to teach their members to conduct themselves according to christian standards by avoiding adultery and fornication. They also promote monogamous marriage and fidelity.
The Madina Catholic Church has the Centre of Hope which organizes seminars on HIV/AIDS periodically in schools.
(D) DO YOU FEEL THAT YOUR LOCAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS SHOULD BE DOING MORE
ABOUT HIV/AIDS? IF SO, WHAT IDEAS DO YOU HAVE FOR THEM?
Yes. Our religious leaders must treat the issue of HIV/AIDS with compassion and not fear. They must wage war on AIDS by making sure that they have AIDS ministries in the mosques and churches.
Religious leaders in the Maamobi, Adenta and Madina communities should emulate the good works of the Salvation Army in its attempt to combat HIV/AIDS. The Salvation Army which is a church has 14 clinics to attend to the health needs of the people in the communities where the clinics are located.. It counsels HIV/AIDS persons, engages them in income generating activities and provides home-base care services for them. Besides, the church offers education covering dress-making, soap-making, tie and dye and jewellery, for the youth especially street girls.
COULD SOMEONE ACQUIRE HIV FROM BLOOD TRANSFUSION IN YOUR COUNTRY? WHY
OR WHY NOT? WHY OR WHY NOT? HOW DO YOU KNOW (WHAT AUTHORITY DID YOU
USE TO GET THE INFORMATION FOR YOUR ANSWER?)
It is the general opinion of most people that HIV can be acquired through blood transfusion as a result of human error or the failure to screen the blood properly.
According to some of the health workers of Swan Clinic, Adenta, acquiring HIV through blood transfusion is possible in our district hospitals and not our regional hospitals which are well equipped and have the right calibre of personnel to handle blood transfusion.
According to the doctor in charge of the clinic, there is no documentation on cases of HIV transmission through blood transfusion.
This activity has allowed us to establish contacts with HIV/AIDS resouce persons and people living with AIDS
Alhough this particular activity has been very tedious, it has sharpened our ability to do research work.
It has also increased the number of students who are desirous to particpate in the project. Our student support base has also increased greatly.
On behalf of our International WorLD Project Coordinator, Staff and students of WASS, we want to to thank the following distinguished personalities for helping us immensely to find responses to the questions on ouR 3rd Goal Activities.
We also want to show our deepest gratitude to the Ghana Medical Association for inviting us to its 2nd Annual Public Lecture. Indeed, we were well informed by the contibutions of Hon, Gladys Asmah, Minsiter for Women's Affairs and Dr. Kwaku Yeboah, Manager, National AIDS/STD Control Programme.
We owe you more than we can acknowledge.
Chief Baba Issah
P.O. Box 9543
Tel: 233 21 231215
Mr. Adam abukari
West Madina central Mosque
Near Nascata Pharmacy
Mrs. Grace Gunudu
Action AIDS Group
Tel: 233 21 500839
Dr. M. A. Winful
Tel: 233 21 502036
Mrs Victoria Letsu
Tel: 233 21 502036
Rev Father Koos Johnson
Queen of Peace Catholic Church
Mr. Elvis Addae
233 21 244537
Mr M. N. Tackie
P.O. Box 552
PARTICIPANTS: - STUDENTS
Patience Tracy Acheampong
Chris Kwei (Supervising Teacher)
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GOAL ACTIVITY – SOCIAL ACTION
WHAT CAN YOU DO IN COMMUNITY TO PREENT THE SPREAD OF HIV? YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL? AS A SCHOOL?
As individuals, we would like to make our
classmates and friends aware of the devastating nature of HIV/AIDS and discuss
with them the need for us to abstain from sex until we marry.
As a school,
we would like to be at the fore-front of the fight against the HIV/AIDS
pandemic. This we hope to do
through the formation of a students association solely with the objective of
bringing the knowledge of HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and care to our fellow
students and teachers of WASS and other schools and the youth in the community
where our school is located.
WHAT WOULD BE THE CHALLENGES TO THESE
PREVENTION ACTIVITIES (WHAT WILL YOU HAVE TO OVERCOME TO BE SUCCESSFUL)?
Our activities will be subjected to the following
The present educational reforms do not give us enough time to do other
things since the academic calendar is now longer.
We cover more weeks and lesson periods in a year than in the past.
We therefore have little time for extra –curriculum activities.
SHYNESS: We feel shy talking to
people of the opposite sex on issues related to sex, sexual reproduction, STDs
RIDICULE: Our friends give us all
sorts of names when we make the attempt to disuss HIV/AIDS issues with them.
HOW MIGHT YOU GET THROUGH THOSE CHALLENGES (WHO CAN YOU ASK FOR HELP)?
We intend organizing most of our activities at the
weekends and during our school vacations. We
are also looking forward to forming a students association which will handle
HIV/AIDS issues in our school. We
believe that through this Association, we can
gain more recognition and a special place in our school’s calendar.
To overcome shyness and being subdjects of ridicule,
we want to move in groups of two or more persons whenever we embark on our
HIV/AIDS education activities.
WHAT IS PEER EDUCATION(HINT: IT
IS NOT JUST PEERS TALKING WITH ONE ANOTHER)?
Peer education involves is a strategy which involves using a group of persons to influence or motivate another group of persons not necessarily of the same age group, school, tribe, status, etc., to modify their behavours, knowledge and attitudes’
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS?
From available literature, training, and
DO YOU HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE WITH IT?
Yes, some of us have.
IS YOUR COMMUNITY INVOLVED WITH ANY PEER
ARE THERE ANY HIV/AIDS NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS WORKING IN YOUR COMMUNITY?
ARE THEY DOING ANY TYPE OF PEER EDUCATION?
IF SO, CAN THEY HELP YOU IN YOUR
SCHOOL’S ACTION PLAN?
ARE CONDOMS AVAILABLE IN YOUR AREA?
Yes, they are available and affordable.
IF THEY ARE, ARE THEY USED?
IF NOT, WHAT ARE THE FACTORS THAT KEEP THEM OUT OF YOUR COMMUNITY?
Yes and No. It
is on record that about 16% of those engaged in active sex in Ghana , use
Those who do not use condoms, think sex is better enjoyed without condoms. They see the use of condoms as eating sweets with the wrapper on. To them the sweet is only enjoyed when the wrapper is removed.
Due to religious beliefs, some people do not
want to “condomise”.
Others just forget to use them.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY DO TO HELP THE AFFECTED ADULTS AND CHILDREN IN YOUR AREA?
They should treat these people with compassion.
There should not be any form of stigmatization and discrimination towards
them. If we show compassion for them, they can recover from their
pains, sorrows, losses, etc.
The community can support affected
children/orphans by taking care of their school fees, meals , clothes, etc. when
the need arises. We can even give
vocational training to these orphans so that they acquire the necessary skills
needed by the labour force.
DO PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY DO
HOME-BASED CARE? IF SO WHO
Yes, they do.
This is done by a few churches especially, the Salvation Army.
This is however done on a small scale since cases of HIV/AIDS are low in
the GA District where our school is located.
ARE THERE ANY ORPHANS IN YOUR AREA?
IF SO ARE THEY GOING TO SCHOOL?
Most orphans ,who are of school going age are in
school, except the very few who detest school.
MANY ORPHANS ARE JUST AS SMART AND CAPABLE AS CHILDREN WITH PARENTS, THEY JUST DON’T HAVE THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES AS OTHERS---SHOULD OUR SOCIAL ACTION PLANS ADDRESS THIS?
Yes, by writing to our communty leaders and
NGOs to support them. They should
indeed give priority to them. All
other issues second for children are our future.
FIVE WAYS TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF HIV IN GHANA
Encourage pregnant mothers
to go for HIV antibody testwith the view to preventing
to child transmission
Talk and film shows on HIV Awareness and Prevention.
Drama on HIV Awareness and Prevention at the school level.
This is a year’s comprehensive plan geared towards
influencing the youth in the Adenta Community of the GA North District of the
Greater Region, Ghana to choose abstinence with the view to preventing HIV/AIDS
FOR ACTIVITIES: September 2001 to August
Most HIV/AIDS infected persons in Ghana are the youth within the age
range of 20 and 29 years.
There is low education on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in our
There is a high level og stimatisation and discrimination towards people
living with HIV/AIDS.
A certain number of our peers(students) are engaged in premarital sex.
To consolidate the gains of the previous year’s activities by
sustaining our HIV/AIDS Peer Education/Motivation programme and participating in
most HIV/AIDS activities and projects at the school and community levels.
To form a permanent students association, during the first term of the
2001/academic year to handle all HIV/AIDS issues under the patronage of
Collaborationg with all institutions, societies and NGOs which focuss
mainly on HIV/AIDS related issues.
Interacting with persons living with HIV/AIDS with the view to ending the
stigmatisation and discrimination towards people living with the disease.
STRATEGIES FOR ACHIEVING STATED OBJECTIVES
Post notices on staff and notice boards inviting students to join the
proposed HIV/AIDS students association.
Members of the proposed association should and schedule days or dates and
time for their meetings
Organise debates, talk shows, symposia, etc on HIV/AIDS
Distribute educational materials(handouts, brochures,etc) on HIV/AIDS on
behalf of the government and other institutions.
Visit and interact with people living with HIV/AIDS
Members of the proposed Association should
provide funds from their members dues.
They should also fall on individual donations
should they want to present gifts (either in cash or kind to HIV/AIDS persons.
They should as much as possible avoid
soliciting for funds from outside.
MARY MANTEY(PEER EDUCATOR)
CYNTHIA DOGBE(PEER EDUCATOR)
ELIZABETH FRIMPONG(PEER EDUCATOR)
BENJAMIN BANITSI(PEER EDUCATOR)
CHRIS B.L. KWEI (WORLD SCHOOL COORDINATOR)
WEST AFRICA SECONDARY SCHOOL