The implementation of the national life-skills and HIV/AIDS school policy and programme in the eThekwini region.
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HIV/AIDS reflects many of the stresses and strains in contemporary South Africa and must be considered in relation to the socio-political, economic and cultural factors that the epidemic is deeply rooted in. This study investigated how secondary schools have responded to the problems of HIV/AIDS and the challenges faced by educators in the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS School Policy and the Life skills programme. It also evaluated the Life-skills, HIV/AIDS programme implemented in three selected schools in the eThekwini region. A multiphase research design, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative methods, was utilised in this study. In Phase One, face- to face interview schedules were administered with principals from 74 secondary schools. Phase Two comprised in-depth interviews with educators as well as interactive workshops with Grade Nine learners and their parents from three selected schools. In Phase Three one focus group with district co-ordinators and an in-depth interview was held with the national co-ordinator for the Lifeskills, HIV/AIDS programme from the Department of Education. The findings illustrate that there is a lack of institutional capacity at schools to deal adequately with the problem of HIV/AIDS. With the maturation and devastating effects of the epidemic at both micro (individual and families) and mezzo (school and community) levels, there is a need to move beyond sexuality education and knowledge about HIV/AIDS to include treatment, care and support services to learners, their families and educators who are either infected and or affected by the epidemic. Five key strategies are recommended as a fram~work to create an enabling environment in which not only risk reduction among the youth can occur but the effects of the maturation of the epidemic can be dealt with at the school, household and community level. Drawing on the practice elements embedded in structural theory and its application to HIV/AIDS intervention programmes in schools, recommendations are made for the re-conceptualisation of social work practice in contemporary South Africa.