This information sheet describes some of the Western Cape Education Department's plans for HIV/AIDS and sexuality education in 2003.
An estimated 5.5 million South Africans – one in eight – are infected with HIV. It is estimated that three quarters of all new HIV-infections occur amongst those aged between 15 and 25. A national survey of teenagers has found that one third of all youths between the ages of 12 and 17 have had sex. Most children enter the education system HIV-negative; a growing number leave school HIV-positive, and many more become HIV-positive shortly after leaving.
Dealing with HIV/AIDS is the one priority in the national Department of Education’s Corporate Implementation Plan, ‘Tirisano’, that Minister Kader Asmal refers to as "the priority that underlies all priorities, for unless we succeed, we face a future full of suffering and loss, with untold consequences for our communities and the education institutions that serve them".
The Western Cape Education Department has committed itself to dealing with the AIDS emergency in two ways. Both of these approaches flow from the fundamental constitutional values of our democracy, but they are also critical to entrenching these values within the education system.
The first approach is to use its position – as the primary transmitter of knowledge, skills and values to the youth of our society – to raise HIV-awareness, to disseminate information about HIV and its transmission, and to help change the attitudes of young people to inhibit the spread of the epidemic. This will be done primarily within the curriculum, but also through extra-curricular activity, and through the role modelling of teachers and other authorities.
The second way is to ensure that students and teachers who have been affected by HIV are not discriminated against, and to ensure, too, that they are able to live productively for as long as possible.
Teaching HIV/AIDS in the Classroom & Mandatory Requirements of the National Curriculum
Both Tirisano and the National Curriculum (C2005 and RNCS) mandate that information about HIV/AIDS and (age-appropriate) sexuality education must be integrated into the curriculum, at all levels. Thus, there are specific components in the Life Skills (Foundation Phase) and Life Orientation learning areas (Intermediate Phase, Senior Phase and FET band/ R550), that deal with reproductive health and sexuality education – not as an add-on or optional subject, but as a mandatory part of the curriculum. The curriculum imparts basic HIV/AIDS information, but, understanding that sexual responsibility flows out of self-esteem and self-knowledge and not just the acquisition of information, seeks to provide students with the skills needed to gain such qualities.
The WCED has advised that approximately ½ hour per week (taken on average over the year) of HIV/AIDS and sexuality life skills education, per class, is mandatory. The teaching of HIV/AIDS and sexuality education must therefore be timetabled, and is to be mainstreamed. HIV/AIDS education may also be undertaken by utilising a cross-curricular approach (life skills across the curriculum).
Learning Support Material (LSM)
To assist both the educator and learner with HIV/AIDS and sexuality life skills education, curriculum-compliant learning support material (LSM) has been developed and has already been widely distributed. Thus, for example, the majority of primary schools are currently making use of this material, covering grades 1 through to 7.
Curriculum-compliant learning support material for grades 8-9 is currently being finalised, and will be distributed during teacher-training in early-2003.
Curriculum-compliant LSM for the Further Education and Training (FET) band (including Grades 10-12) has still to be developed.
LSM specifically selected to encourage and enable a cross-curricular approach, will be made available to Language, Natural Science and other teachers (both primary and secondary) during early-2003.
Grade R (pre-school) learners, as well as ABET (adult) learners, will be supported with learning materials and training programmes in due course.
In accordance with the language policy of the Department, all HIV/AIDS-related learning support material offered to schools and educational institutions will, insofar as is possible, be provided in the appropriate mother-tongue language, or languages of choice. In this regard, considerable effort has been and continues to be invested in translation, to ensure the availability of LSM particularly in the Afrikaans and isiXhosa languages.
HIV/AIDS-related LSM is supplied to schools/institutions free-of-charge. Private schools are encouraged to access these materials (where available) at no cost, or, as may be appropriate, at cost price.
LSM currently available or soon-to-be distributed during 2003, includes the following:
- Teacher’s Resource Manual for primary school educators (one each)
- Teacher’s Guide Grades 1-7 (one per educator according to the grade(s) taught)
- Learner Activity Book Grades 1-7 (one per learner, per year, according to grade)
- Teachers' Guides for Grades 8 and 9 (as above)
- Learner Activity Books for Grades 8 and 9
- Educational charts, posters, brochures for Grades R to 12
- Parent Guides
- Sets of Readers (English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa) for Grades 5 to 11
- Simulation Kits for use in Life Sciences
- Library/resource/reference material
- Peer Education manuals (selected secondary school educators and NGOs)
- Care and Support manuals (all levels, 2003-2004)
Note that EMDCs, Education Support Centres (School Clinics) and the Department’s Library Service (EduLis) will be provided with additional reference material and videos, to enable them to serve as resource centres to surrounding schools.
To assist learners in acquiring the appropriate knowledge, skills and values, educators should receive continuous training in HIV/AIDS and sexuality life skills education. This will include initial training, to be supplemented by refresher courses and workshops according to identified needs.
The WCED has provided the Provincial Government with an undertaking that 80% of its primary school educators will be trained in HIV/AIDS. Thus far, approximately 85% of schools (and 10 000 educators) have received this training.
Due to the late finalisation of the Gr 8 and 9 curricula (April 2002) and the current finalisation of curriculum-compliant LSM and translations, Grade 8 and 9 educators will only begin to receive training in early-2003. Educators trained in 1997 will also be (re-)trained.
Gr 10-12 educators, FET institutions, Grade R and ABET educators will be advised of training opportunities in due course.
Peer education (learner-to-learner) is seen as a valuable adjunct to the Department’s curricular approach, especially given the rapid increase in the Western Cape epidemic amongst 15-19 year olds. Appropriately identified/selected secondary school educators will therefore receive training in the Facilitation of Peer Education, in early-2003.
Approximately one third of secondary schools, identified as being ‘at-high-risk’, will receive additional support for their Peer Education programmes during 2003 and 2004. This will be facilitated by carefully selected and contracted NGOs (non-governmental organisations), and will be closely monitored by the Department.
Training in Care and Support (basic counselling and referal skills for educators to enable them to support learners affected by HIV and AIDS) will be provided for pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, beginning in the latter part of 2003.
Training for primary school educators covers the following minimum content over a 3 day (21 hr) period:
|DAY 1:||HIV/AIDS education policy; bio-medical facts, statistics, scenarios; exploration of personal values, culture, religion, vulnerability, rights and responsibilities.|
|DAY 2:||Defining HIV/AIDS and sexuality education; context within the curriculum and the Life Orientation learning area; age-appropriate knowledge, values and skills to be taught; gender issues, violence, sexual abuse, bereavement, care and support.|
|Micro-teaching of unit lessons; dealing with difficult questions; strategising around time-tabling and implementation; dealing with parents and the community; establishment of a School HIV/AIDS Coordinator(s); development of a 'Health Advisory Committee'; post test and evaluation.|
The intention is that secondary school educators will, similarly, receive 4 days of training, with added input on cross-curriculation and dealing with issues relating to a sexually active learner population.
A database is maintained of all educators trained to teach HIV/AIDS and sexuality life skills in schools. This database will be posted onto the WCED HIV/AIDS web site.
Follow-up training of educators will be, and is being provided, as requested and/or on the basis of identified needs. School HIV/AIDS Coordinators are required to attend quarterly workshops, as arranged by the Education Support Centre (School Clinic) or EMDC. In order to facilitate this, schools in relatively close geographic proximity should be clustered for both training and support purposes. It is furthermore recommended that clusters establish HIV/AIDS Cluster Coordinator(s) to facilitate needs identification, networking, training and support.
School Aids Policy
The National Education Policy Act, 1996 (No. 27 of 1996) on HIV/AIDS, for Learners and Educators in Public Schools, and Students and Educators in Further Education and Training Institutions, deals with, inter alia,
- non-discrimination and equality with regard to learners, students and educators with HIV/AIDS;
- attendance at schools and institutions by learners and students with HIV/AIDS;
- disclosure of HIV/AIDS-related information and confidentiality;
- safe school and institution environments;
- prevention of HIV transmission during play and sport, and the applying of universal precautions;
- duties and responsibilities of learners, students, educators and parents; and
- responding to refusals to study with or teach a learner or student with HIV/AIDS, or to work with or be taught by an educator with HIV/AIDS.
A provincial education policy for HIV/AIDS, based on the national policy, will be provided to all schools and educational institutions early in 2003. This can then be personalised by schools/institutions. The provincial policy will also be posted on the WCED’s HIV/AIDS web site.
In terms of the (Departmental) policy, each and every school is required to have an HIV/AIDS Coordinator (facilitator).
Where possible, schools and education institutions (through their governing body or council) should also establish a ‘Health Advisory Committee’. This committee should include educators and other staff, representatives of learners or students, representatives of the parent body, and representatives from the medical or health care professions. The participation of representatives of the school on community/district-based inter-sectoral HIV/AIDS-related committees, is encouraged, in order to support a comprehensive, co-operative and integrated response to HIV/AIDS in the community.
Health-Promoting Schools & Whole School Development
Schools are furthermore encouraged to become what the World Health Organisation has termed "Health-Promoting Schools" - where "all members of the school community work together to provide students with integrated and positive experiences and structures which promote and protect their health". This is viewed as being complementary to the Department's Whole School approach, and may be incorporated into Schools' Development Plans.
It is immensely beneficial for all members of the school community – educators, learners and administrators – to be exposed to people living openly and positively with HIV. The participation, therefore, of persons living with HIV in planning and training activities, as may be appropriate, is encouraged.
Sexual Abuse & Educators
Consentual, coercive and transactional sex between educators and learners is not only psycho-socially damaging to a learner’s development, but places them at high risk of contracting HIV. Educators caught having sexual relations with or sexually abusing learners will be summarily dismissed. Where learners are under 18 years of age, educators will also be criminally liable for statutory rape. The Tirisano Guidelines for Educators notes that "Educators are expected to be role models and leaders in the community".
Guidelines dealing with sexual abuse are covered by the Department’s ‘Abuse No More’ policy document.
Parent Education Programmes
Schools are encouraged to engage with parents and care-givers and, where approapriate, community- and faith-based organisations, to design and/or implement HIV/AIDS education programmes that will assist parents both in fulfilling their responsibilities but also in supporting the Department’s educational programmes and objectives.
Several publications and video-based presentations have been designed to assist schools in this regard, and these will be distributed early in 2003. Also, from 2003, a small budget will be made available to schools (via EMDCs) to assist schools with this endeavour.
World Aids Day & School Aids Week
World AIDS Day is commemorated each year on 1 December. However, this is generally not an appropriate time for schools to show their commitment to the struggle against HIV/AIDS or to engage with the broader community. Consequently, School AIDS Week is 'celebrated' each year during the first week in September.
Schools are especially encouraged during this time, to (for example):
- Organise poster, essay or song competitions to raise awareness and increase participation amongst learners;
- Hold a candle-light ceremony as part of the school assembly;
- Invite motivational speakers from the local Health Clinic, medical profession, WCED, NGOs, etc;
- Allocate successive days amongst classes or grades to allow each to conduct a presentation to the rest of the school;
- Workshop the Department's "HIV/AIDS Guidelines for Educators" amongst educators and/or parent-community;
- Launch/display the school's personalised HIV/AIDS policy;
- Run an HIV/AIDs and sexuality education workshop for parents;
- Conduct surveys to determine attitudes and/or needs in the community;
First Aid Kits
All schools will be supplied by the Department with sufficient first aid kits to meet the requirements of the entire school, free of charge, during early-2003. Responsibility for the subsequent management and maintenance of these kits will reside with the school.
HIV is a disease that will inevitably take us all, as a nation, through dire social and economic straits. In one way or another this disease will ultimately impact on every one of our lives. Consequently, it is incumbent on all, and in the best interests of each, to support the struggle against AIDS - and thus minimise its potential impact on our society and the communities within which we live and work. The Western Cape Education Department is therefore committed to working together with other agencies to achieving this end. Struggle and resiliance are not new to this country. With your support and commitment we shall, too, overcome this.