The influence of initiation schools on adolescent knowledge and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS and gender related issues in the Maluti Area, Eastern Cape.
Although many cultures attach great value to young males attending traditional initiation schools, there are a number of questions that remain unanswered. Because of the secrecy that surrounds these schools, there may be many opportunities for addressing vital social issues that may not be made use of or are not known. The purpose of this study was to explore the role played by the initiation schools in educating the young men about HIV/AIDS and gender related issues in the Maluti area in the Eastern Cape from the leader’s and from the initiates’ perspectives. A comparison with non-initiates was also conducted. The researcher also aimed to explore the programs offered at the initiation schools; whether initiation schools serve as a source of knowledge pertaining to HIV/AIDS and gender related issues to the young men. The researcher conducted interviews with leaders of two different initiation schools, focus group discussions with two groups of young males that had attended two different initiation schools, and also with one group of young males that had not yet attended initiation school in the Maluti area. The study was qualitative and data was analysed using content analysis. The results reflect that both initiated and uninitiated young males had attended same workshops on gender issues offered through their schools, the only difference in knowledge and attitude is therefore based on what the initiated youth learnt from the initiation school. This knowledge reflected an understanding of equity principles in treating women. In addition, the initiated young males reflected some understanding of the equal rights and treatment of women. However there was little difference between the two groups of young males, perhaps because there was apparently not much included at initiation school. Another reason could have been because the initiates did not perceive it as one of the important issues discussed since there was little emphasis coming from the initiation school, the leaders or from the visiting speakers.
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