Educators' views on HIV and AIDS and sexuality education in a middle class primary school in the Durban area.
This study examines how educators in a primary school view the teaching of HIV and AIDS and sexuality in the context of delivering the LO curriculum. It seeks to establish whether the educators are properly trained for and supported in their tasks and further seeks to establish their attitudes towards teaching these sensitive subjects. The study is based on semi-structured interviews with eight Life Orientation (LO) teachers who work at CJ Primary School (CJPS) in Durban. CJPS is a well established school that formerly served only a white learner community. Since the early 1990s its racial demography has changed and it is now racially mixed with Indian learners constituting a slight majority. The school offers classes from Grade 0 to Grade 7. The teachers interviewed for this study were all involved in teaching LO in the senior primary phase and all had delivered lessons on HIV/ AIDS and sexuality. The sample comprised one African, one White and six Indian teachers and was made up of three males and five females. The school timetable includes two LO periods a week (i.e. 2 hours per week is devoted to LO) and evidence suggests that teachers are serious about the teaching they do in these periods. It was found that levels of both pre and in-service training in the areas of HIV and AIDS and sexuality and gender were low. Only 2 out of the 8 teachers had been trained in HIV and AIDS and sexuality education. 5 of the 8 educators had received some form of training, (weeklong workshops, for example) but many still felt unconfident about teaching sexuality. Although national policy for teaching HIV and AIDS and sexuality does exist and the school also has its own set of policy documents relating to the LO curriculum, most of the teachers had not seen the national documents and were unaware of the school's policy. HIV and AIDS and sexuality are themes which are taught across the curriculum but rather cramped into one term's allotment of LO lessons which results in a lack of depth being achieved. Understandings of sexuality were basic and generally devoid of 'gender'. It appears as though the female teachers were more enthusiastic about teaching HIV and AIDS and sexuality than were the men and the lone African educator was the most strident in demanding that the school devote more attention to these subjects, possibly because in her own life she had already directly encountered the ravages of the pandemic. There is some competition within the curriculum about which subjects should get the most attention and priority. Generally speaking, language teaching and mathematics were considered more important than the LO.