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Teaching course on HIV in Africa successful

Copenhagen's International Health Programme has experiences to share on holding an HIV/AIDS prevention course in Mozambique

Back in 1994, Mozambique declared HIV/AIDS a national disaster. In 2009, 11.5 per cent of people in Mozambique lived with AIDS, and the numbers were still rising.

As part of the University of Copenhagen’s Master in International Health (MIH) programme, an off-shore course in Mozambique was offered in 2009-2012 to teach students new ways of dealing with HIV/AIDS.

Now the organisers want to share their experiences. »It was a pilot scheme, and we needed to find out what is needed to set up a course in a different institution in a different country,« says Helle Trøst Nielsen, director of studies for the MIH programme. She hopes that their experiences can be handed on to other departments.

Parallel with e-learning

The course was fully funded by the Danish development agency Danida, with the evaluation of it also partially funded.

»It is a way to internationalise your study programme,« says Helle Trøst Nielsen. The expertise was to be found in Copenhagen, and the course contributed to building up knowledge.

»In parallel we worked on setting up e-learning courses. And I think that in the future a combination of e-learning and getting together your main target group at a place close to their physical vicinity is the best way forward,« she says.

Accessible for all

The department is now in discussion with a local university partner to set it up as normal fee-paying course.

The MIH programme is big on attracting as many students as possible. Through e-learning, blended learning, and off-shore courses, students from around the globe can participate without having to be physically present in Copenhagen:

»We want to be able to attract the best students from anywhere in the world. So one of our major goals has been to ensure that our courses are accessible for students from as many places in the world as possible. «

Not ‘just another course’

Although mandatory courses are currently only offered in Copenhagen, options were needed for those unable to afford the high cost of living and studying in Copenhagen. The need for ‘physical flexibility’ in the way some of the courses are offered led to the creation of e-learning and off-shore courses.

As opposed to simply providing awareness about the issue, the course is about teaching strategies for dealing with the crisis. It has received positive reviews.

»Those participants who expected ´just another course´told us that especially the level of the teachers and the organisation of the course was much better than they had experienced in other courses«

New ways to deal with HIV

»We usually include a range of guest speakers representing different cultures and nationalities, we include project work and (a variation of) problem based learning, students are asked to actively participate in the work in class and not only attend lectures.«

»So the course was not only about teaching people a topic, it was about creating an awareness of new ways to deal with HIV/AIDS: how to set-up projects based on the newest knowledge and organised in a way that ensures impact,« says Helle Trøst Nielsen.

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