Peer Education Kabarole (PEK) is a school-based peer education program operating as a community-based organization in the Kabarole District, western Uganda. The program aims to improve students’ reproductive health by using student peer educators to provide information on topics such as HIV, AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancy and relationships, and in doing so, equip students with the ability to make decisive choices that position them for long and healthy lives.
PEK originated through a research collaboration between students in Ugandan secondary schools and the University of Alberta which led to the formation of school-based clubs to help students gain better sexual health knowledge and avoid the common health and social problems facing Ugandan adolescents. In early 2008 the initiative became formalized as Peer Education Kabarole. It presently operates in 15 secondary schools within the district.
Under the approval of each school’s administration, the peer educators organize themselves within their school as a club. Student leaders are elected and one or more teachers act as a resource and overseer to the peer educators. PEK equips peer educators with knowledge and skills through training activities at the schools, an annual district-wide workshop, print materials, and by facilitating access to other information resources within the community. Peer educators engage with their peers using a variety of educative activities (such as drama, songs, posters and debates) and counseling support services.
HEAL International provides financial, technical and administrative support for this program. Financial support is necessary for the outreach programs and training to continue in Uganda. We also work with students and health professionals in Canada to develop curricula and training materials that can support the work of PEK.