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In order to achieve this unified HIV curriculum, three UN agencies – UNICEF, UNFPA and UNESCO – have been working together since 2008 as part of the Joint UN Team on HIV/AIDS under the framework of UN reform, together with Save the Children, to support the development and institutionalization of the curriculum.

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The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET)is developing the first national integrated reproductive health and HIV prevention curriculum for secondary school students with support from the United Nations and Save the Children in Viet Nam. The curriculum has been being piloted in Quang Ninh Province, Quang Tri Province and Ho Chi Minh City with a view to scale up nation wide and finally integrate HIV prevention into the next national curriculum framework and new textbooks to be developed by MOET and approved by the National Assembly in 2015.

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The joint UN – civil society – Government effort has resulted in this comprehensive curriculum where reproductive health is strongly linked to HIV prevention; a shift is made towards a learning environment that empowers young people to think and make choices for themselves in reproductive health and HIV matters; and HIV education reaches beyond the school environment through special training for the parents of students. These changes are expected to enable more dynamic teacher-student and parent-child relationships that help better guide young people on reproductive health and on how to protect themselves from HIV

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Many progresses have been made but challenges still remain on the road to realization of MOET vision of a strong, effective and sustainable education sector response to HIV. The Ministry needs not only strong political leadership but also greater capacity for planning and coordination, sufficient resources, teachers with better capacity, and effective intra-ministry and multi-sectoral coordination to turn their wishes into reality.

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Work on publishing and disseminating a booklet on Facts About Children and HIV is also being finalized by MOET with support from the UN to help teachers, parents and students address HIV related stigma in schools.

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Coordination is the other key area in the education sector response to HIV where MOET requested support from the UN and it is helping make a difference. In December 2009, a high-level MOET delegation visited Cambodia to learn from their experiences in coordinating the national education sector response to HIV via an inter-departmental committee. Subsequent to the study visit, work to establish a similar committee for MOET has gained momentum. High level discussions among MOET leaders, UN Heads of Agencies and representatives of related departments within the ministry were held to determine the committee’s charter, organizational issues and tentative work…

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MOET vice minister Nguyen Vinh Hien said: “It’s very heartening to see the committee taking shape. This is the clear impact of the UN working as one with our ministry. Greater UN coherence has motivated us to strengthen out internal coordination. This committee will help us avoid duplication, address potential gaps and have a better overview of the sector response to HIV. I can see the One UN is better meeting the demands of the education sector.”

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Strong commitment and leadership have been shown by MOET, but additional support is needed to realize the vision of a sector-wide response. This will again be a joint effort in which the UN – particularly UNICEF, UNFPA, UNESCO and UNAIDS – will work with other development partners such as Save the Children. The ultimate goal of this support is to ensure that all Vietnamese young people can best protect themselves from HIV.

Green One UN House, 304 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam