Exploring the national HIV/AIDS and lifeskills intervention programme and policy implementation in a primary school in south Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
HIV/AIDS has probably become the most dreadful of all diseases, as no other disease has managed to threaten civilization as HIV/AIDS. It is capable of destroying large sections of humanity (Schoub, 1999). South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world, while KwaZulu-Natal is the worst affected province in this country (Kaufmann, 2004). There is a high incidence of HIV infection that is reported in younger people between the ages of 15 to 29 years, which suggests that many were infected in their teens. These statistics underline the central position that young people play in South Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Mandela (2005)2 states that in confronting the severe threat of HIV/AIDS, fellow South Africans have to jointly take responsibility to save this nation. The experiences in other countries have taught us that HIV infection can be prevented by investing in information and lifeskills development for the youth. This study focuses on the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS policy and HIV/AIDS and Lifeskills intervention programme at a public primary school in the South Durban region in KwaZulu-Natal. It examines: • The perceptions of the Life Orientation (LO) educators towards the HIV/AIDS policy and intervention programme. • The impact that the intervention programme has had on learner awareness and knowledge of the epidemic. The population consisted of 5 Life Orientation educators and 30 grade 7 learners. Information and data was gathered by qualitative methods viz: the use of semi-structured and focus group interviews. Some of the findings that emerged from the study suggest that: • The National HIV/AIDS policy and intervention programme is being implemented at the school. • The LO educators have a good knowledge and understanding of the contents of the National HIV/AIDS policy. However, training is lacking in the teaching of HIV/AIDS education. • The learners have a fairly sound knowledge about how the virus is transmitted and how it can be prevented. • Learners also have a positive attitude towards those with HIV/AIDS with regards to acceptance, providing assistance, showing them love, and respect and by being supportive. An important challenge faced by the school is to ensure that learners continue to receive salient information and knowledge about the epidemic and that educator's get the necessary training especially with counselling of learners who are infected and affected by the virus. This will help to enhance the quality of the teaching of HIV/AIDS and Life Skills education during the Life Orientation learning area. 2.President Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected Black president of South Africa, cited in the Foreword, in Abdool Karim and Abdool Karim (2005).