SUMMARY

The perception of risks of exposure to avian influenza and other poultry diseases among adults in Tanzania is influenced by their previous experiences, beliefs, and values, which can stand in the way of learning new approaches. We tested a novel disease risk communication approach centered on elementary school pupils, involving their teachers and parents. Age-appropriate training modules were developed and taught to teachers who then taught their pupils through extracurricular activities. The pupils practiced what they learned through club projects and subsequently transmitted what they learned to their parents. In 2009 we developed a poultry health and production curriculum as part of efforts to prevent and control poultry diseases, including avian influenza, in Tanzania. The curriculum developed for veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals was adapted for use with elementary school children and translated into Kiswahili. Twenty teachers from 10 primary schools in Mzumbe ward, Morogoro, were trained by poultry veterinary extension experts on teaching the curriculum to standard 5 pupils (ages 11–12 yr). Pupils and teachers practiced the curriculum in four demonstration chicken coops established on the grounds of the Changarawe, Lubungo, Masanze, and Mzumbe primary schools. By October 2011, at the conclusion of the funded project, a total of 202 girls and 193 boys had been trained. Additionally, 34 adults from surrounding villages made official learning tours to the schools and received training from their children and teachers involved in the projects. With at least 75% of the 395 pupils coming from different households, it can be safely assumed that over 250 households have heard about poultry disease risks and how to manage poultry to prevent those risks.

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