An investigative study into ways of incorporating HIV/AIDS education into academic curricula at the University of Natal.
The aim of this research was to investigate the different methods incorporating HIV/AIDS education into formal academic curricula at the University of Natal. This research aimed to flag up examples of ways of incorporating HIV/AIDS into the different curricula, and also to look at some of the obstacles the different academic departments may have encountered in trying to incorporate such education into their curricula. I had guessed that a variety of HIV/AIDS awareness programmes, initiatives and education were being undertaken at the university and that on the whole students and staff were well aware of the basic information regarding the disease. What I wanted to look at in particular was how the university was responding to HIV/AIDS within the curricula. Were academic curricula being altered in any way to allow for the impact of HIV/AIDS and how was this being undertaken? The key issues to be addressed and the main questions posed by this research were: • What are the different ways that HIV/AIDS education is incorporated into academic curricula? • What do lecturers consider to be the specific links between their subject matter and HIV/AIDS? • What is the purpose of such education? Why are lecturers choosing to incorporate HIV/AIDS education into their programmes? • What aspects of HIV/AIDS are being covered within the programmes? • How do lecturers attempt to get students to relate disciplinary knowledge to HIV/AIDS in order to inform future decision-making? • What are the main positive features of the current HIV/AIDS programmes being undertaken? • What are the main difficulties/concerns encountered by the different schools in incorporating HIV/AIDS education into the curricula? Through examining different schools within the university it was hoped to come up with a variety of different and innovative ways that HIV education can be incorporated into the curricula. This research started with a search of the HIVAN database to find lecturers with programmes that are undertaking some form of HIV/AIDS education. From this initial search I gained a number of contacts, who were then able to direct me to further contacts within the university. I ended up with an initial sample of seventeen lecturers based across fourteen schools or programmes and spanning seven faculties. The sample included lecturers from the faculties of Community & Development, Human Sciences, Law, Management Studies, Engineering, Medical Sciences, and Education. (See appendix I) For this research I used a number of methods of data collection. The first data collection method used was to carry out semi-structured interviews with the lecturers in the sample. This method was the prime method and the vast majority of the data was collected using this method. The following methods were mainly used for triangulation purposes although a number of new insights were made from these. The second method used then was to review printed material made available to me from a number of the lecturers interviewed. This was mainly course outlines but in a small number of cases also included reports on the HIV/AIDS modules. The third method used was to observe a number of the chosen programmes and following this observation to interview students about the HIV/AIDS education. (See appendix 11 Interview Questionnaires) Initially I have presented the findings of this research by documenting and summarizing the responses to each research question. In order to make for an easy overview of the findings for the reader I have drawn up a table under each research question, these tables list the responses to the research questions. I then go on to look at the different models this research has shown for teaching HIV/AIDS education. I have taken each model in turn and shown how it works in practice through giving a detailed description of the example cases. Following this I have attempted to outline the main features of these HIV/AIDS programmes and to document the main insights emerging. Looking back at the literature reviewed in this field, I have then attempted to review the responses in terms of what was said in the literature regarding HIV/AIDS education. I have also outlined the questions and surprises brought to light by this study and have attempted to draw some conclusions regarding the teaching of HIV/AIDS within academic curricula. Finally, in the light of the findings, I have made recommendations for future work in this field. It was impossible from this study to say which programmes work better than others with regards to the teaching of HIV/AIDS education. What I have merely attempted to do is to describe the methods and approaches used at present in order that others wishing to undertake similar programmes may review these.