In Namibia, the American Cultural Center recently awarded Base FM Radio with a grant supported by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
This grant will support HIV/AIDS Khomas School Debate 2009, a continuing high school debate program working to engage Namibian youth in an on-air HIV/AIDS dialogue and to raise awareness about the disease.
Building on information from a 2007 survey that showed listeners wanted to hear about topics affecting the youth of Namibia, including HIV/AIDS and domestic violence, Base FM developed the debate program and piloted it in 2008. The program quickly became popular among students and radio listeners alike.
The discussions are based loosely on the World Schools Debating Style, which had already been introduced in Namibian schools.
Now in its second year, HIV/AIDS Khomas High School Debate 2009 will include representation from more schools and students, further expanding the reach of this program. The top 10 debaters will represent the Khomas Region at the National High Schools Debate competition later this year.
Part of the program's success is attributed to the medium on which the discussions are held. Radio is a powerful tool in Namibia because it is readily accessible to people in the country, including individuals most at risk for HIV/AIDS. Understanding this, Base FM will continue to use debates to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in Namibia, and to increase the chances of encouraging HIV/AIDS-related behavior change among youth.
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