Indonesia: Teaching Kids About H5N1 Bird Flu Virus
By Suzanna Dayne
UNICEF Launches Bird Flu Education Campaign To Help Indonesian Children
Mojokerto, Indonesia - UNICEF has launched a new nationwide campaign in Indonesia to raise awareness among children about the dangers of bird flu.
Some 50,000 schools will take part in the programme over the next few months. Each school is to receive a kit complete with a variety of educational tools that were specially developed using characters from a popular local TV series. UNICEF worked with the creative team from the show to develop a short cartoon and public service advertisements that will also air on several stations.
"The cartoon is really good because you can easily understand why bird flu is so dangerous," said Ayu Novisia, a sixth grader at Kebonagung Elementary in East Java.
The programme will also be taught in UNICEF-supported CLCC (Creative Learning Communities for Children) schools where teachers are already familiar with new educational approaches.
Life-saving information in schools
"Learning about current issues is an important part of a child's education, and bird flu is a very important one, especially here in Indonesia," said UNICEF East Java Field Office Chief Sinung Kristanto.
With funding from Japan and Canada, UNICEF has been working with Indonesia's National Avian Influenza Committee (KOMNAS FBPI), UN partners and other organizations to raise awareness among the general public about the dangers of bird flu. Indonesia has been hardest hit by the disease, with an estimated 90 people having fallen victim to the virus to date.
"Some 40 per cent of all victims are children. That's why it is so important that they learn how to protect themselves," said KOMNAS FBPI Chief Executive Bayu Krisnamurthi. "This bird flu virus will be with us for some time, so we must integrate life-saving bird flu information in schools to ensure that the next generation knows how to deal with this threat and future ones."