South African Journal of Childhood Education
On-line version ISSN 2223-7674
CHIRWA, Grames and NAIDOO, Devika. Structural and social constraints in the teaching of Life Skills for HIV/AIDS prevention in Malawi primary schools. SAJCE [online]. 2014, vol.4, n.1, pp. 61-79. ISSN 2223-7674.
The Ministry of Education in Malawi introduced a life skills education program with the intention to empower children with appropriate information and skills to deal with social and health problems affecting the nation, including the fight against HIV infections. This study investigated factors affecting the teaching of the life skills education in four primary schools in the Zomba district, Malawi. Cornbleth's (1990) notions of the structural and social contexts and Whitaker's (1993) identification of key role players in curriculum implementation framed the study. Data was collected through interviews with teachers and principals and observations of teachers' lessons. Findings suggest that the teaching of life skills is constrained by a variety of social and structural contextual factors such as the poor conditions under which teachers are working; greater attention given to subjects such as maths and languages; the cascade model of training teachers and the short duration of training; the inaccessible language in teachers guides; hunger and poverty of learners; lack of community support for sex education; both teachers and learners being infected or affected by the AIDS/HIV pandemic; teachers felt it is inappropriate to teach sexual education to 9 and 10 year old learners. The structural and social barriers to effective life skills education within the current framework indicate the need for alternative sex HIV/AIDS education complementary to the primary school curriculum.
Keywords : Life skills education program; curriculum implementation; factors influencing curriculum implementation.