Setting the pace for a new race towards an HIV-free society: Selected HIV and sex discourses of teachers

20 Jul 2016

This article presents the findings of a study that analysed the formation and enunciation of teachers? discourses concerning HIV and AIDS. The rationale for this study is rooted in concerns about the unsatisfactory outcomes of HIV and AIDS prevention education over the past two decades. According to the latest South African HIV prevalence figures, more people were HIV-positive in 2012 than in 2008. Of particular concern to the education sector is the significant decrease in knowledge about HIV transmission and prevention between 2008 and 2012. Besides that, society is often shocked by media reports of school-going children who engage in sexual activities that expose them to HIV infection, teenage pregnancy and other sexual and emotional risks. These concerns call into question both the efficacy of teachers? pedagogical practices and the capacity of youth to manage their sexual behaviour responsibly. Earlier research on HIV prevention education focused mainly on teachers? knowledge, attitudes and perceptions. The quest to know more and explain the perpetual challenge facing the teaching of HIV and sex education must necessarily include an understanding of teachers? thinking and talking about HIV and AIDS. This study responds to this gap in the research literature. The methodological approach that was designed to gather data from diverse contexts responds to the following research question: ?What is the content of teachers? HIV and sex discourses?? Three focus group discussions, a questionnaire (N=79) and three face-to-face interviews with practising Life Orientation teachers were employed. The results are presented as findings that were interpreted by employing Foucault?s discursive practices as an analytical lens. The findings give a complexity and multi-dimensionality to teachers? discourses that is a far cry from the uncomplicated and deterministic understanding of knowledge evidenced in educational policy. Arguably, by knowing what teachers think and talk about in the context of HIV and sex education may be a necessary step towards narrowing the gap between what teachers teach and what learners need to be taught.