The spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases was high during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Women and young girls were infected as a result of rape.
The country has had to sacrifice resources to support widows living with HIV/AIDS as well as young girls infected 16 years ago.
Today, we need to focus on defeating the spread of HIV/AIDS using education. There is need to use the potential of the education sector to defeat HIV/AIDS, it is important that we base our initiatives on some understanding of what has gone wrong, why the AIDS pandemic has persisted and got out of hand in many communities.
It is very unfortunate that in many ways, the world, countries and communities have got into the current HIV/AIDS crisis almost by default.
The world has stood by and watched a steady, seemingly unstoppable disaster and catastrophic human tragedy brought about by the killer disease. We need to give adequate information to young people as regards the spread and infection of the disease.
We need to understand factors that have made a major contribution to the ease with which the disease has spread. Also the ineptitude of the response in most cases include; silence and denial at national, community, and individual levels.
To some extent silence and denial are a primordial and protective human response to situations that are excessively stressful.
But trying to cover up the existence of AIDS as still commonly occurs in families and communities, and even in some countries, will never lead to mastery over the disease and its impacts.
It is worth to mention that attitudes, behaviours, insidious associations, and adverse social reactions that discriminate against and stigmatize those with HIV/AIDS and drive acknowledgement of the disease into an underground of silence, secrecy, shame and self-recrimination has contributed to failures in the fight against the disease.
Our young people need to know correct information on how the disease can be contracted, how it can be prevented, and what those infected can do to ensure that they live a longer life of better quality.
Even today a significant proportion of young people in our country do not know any way of protecting themselves against HIV infection.
The society also needs to understand that behaviours such as oral and anal sex involve extensive HIV transmission risks, and it is not easy to judge by appearances whether or not a person is HIV infected.
We need to have a strong focus on short term measures aimed principally at behaviour change, but with minimal attention in the context of the disease to the enabling environment of poverty, malnutrition, the powerlessness in many societies of women and young girls, inadequate health support services, lack of job opportunities, and the absence of recreational outlets.
People should understand that inadequate attention to developing comprehensive strategies that focus on the physical, social, economic, recreational and psychological needs of youth will create more problems for future generations.
HIV/AIDS also affects learners through the trauma, silence, prejudice and discrimination frequently associated with it.
Trauma and psychological distress may arise from the experience of seeing a parent or other loved adult, enduring remorseless suffering and a dehumanizing death as already witnessed during the 1994 genocide.
Prejudice, frequently symptomatic of fear and discrimination arise from the negative and judgmental attitude shown by some towards HIV/AIDS and those affected by the disease.
Even in the absence of any discrimination, learners from affected families may experience subtle forms of prejudice manifested in their being isolated and having to bear the taunts and derision of their colleagues.
The experience of trauma, may lead some young people to discontinue their education or be erratic in participation. Others may find that they are not able to learn as they ought.
Educators and school heads may be at a loss as to how they should cope with the emotional, psychological and resulting behavioural problems that students may present.