An exploration of teacher engagement with HIV/AIDS education : a case study.
The purpose of this study was to determine teacher engagement with HIV/AIDS education in primary school. Since the emergence and acknowledgement of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, the national education department's policy has advanced HIV/AIDS education as a priority. The new curriculum has opened up opportunities for HIV/AIDS education to be inserted in the curriculum especially in the learning area Life Orientation in the primary school, which previously did not exist. There is a paucity of research documenting teachers' experiences on the implementation of the HIV/AIDS curriculum. The manner in which teachers engage with the HIV/AIDS curriculum is not known. This study focused on 9 teachers in the intermediate and senior phases in a particular primary school in KwaZulu Natal who have had experience in the implementation of the HIV/AIDS curriculum over the past four years in their school. A survey questionnaire was administered to all educators in the study. The three intermediate educators participated in face-to-face interviews as well as a focus group discussion. An interview was conducted with the member of the management team who was part of the sample. The results from the survey, interviews and focus group discussion suggest that teachers were strongly implementing the HIV/AIDS curriculum in their classrooms while experiencing some practical challenges. This study also suggests that the educators found the Department Of Education's implementation plan suppressive. All three intermediate phase teachers used creative methods to assist in the implementation of the curriculum. The respondents claimed that the workshops and meetings that they had attended were invaluable to them. They however preferred seeing the community more closely involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as this was not an issue confined to the school exclusively. Teachers would also liked to have had HIV/AIDS education implemented across the curriculum, as the task to empower learners in this regard was a mammoth one. The unique and challenging experiences of teachers implementing the HIV/AIDS curriculum must be documented before any theoretical positions can be articulated about the implementation of HIV/AIDS education in primary schools in South Africa. This study has contributed to research on the implementation of HIV/AIDS education in primary school by providing some insight into a group of educators' experiences.