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ASKAIDS Project 1

The first ASKAIDS project took place in three countries: Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania and was completed in December 2010.

The project aims were:

  • To examine the sources, contents and processes of young people's community-based sexual knowledges.
  • To ask how these knowledges interact with AIDS education programmes in school.
  • To take a step back from 'what works' in the classroom to ask two fundamental intellectual questions, which have considerable implications for practice:
    1. What are the primary sources and contents of sexual knowledges for young people in sub-Saharan Africa, and how do these knowledges differ in terms of content and process of acquisition?
    2. How do these knowledges interact with AIDS education received in the classroom, and how might young people's sexual knowledges be used to effect change in pedagogy and curriculum?
  • To produce a toolkit which can be used to inform curriculum development through consultation with pupils and teachers.

The research was conducted in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - Rapid ethnography
  • Stage 2 - Perceptions of pupils, teachers and community members
  • Stage 3 - Agreeing the implications for Education

Key Findings from ASKAIDS Project One:

On young people's sexual knowledge

  • Young people have wide-ranging and fairly sophisticated knowledge of adults’ sexual practices and sexual worlds e.g. prostitution, the influence of drugs and alcohol, of rape and prostitution.
  • They observe sexual acts regularly and are well aware of the particular practices in their environs.
  • The young people were primary pupils in this study so we can assume that this occurs at a fairly young age.
  • They are well aware of the dangers of HIV/AIDS and keen to avoid them.
  • They want a lot more information and dialogue with adults on sexual matters and HIV/AIDS in particular.
  • They are aware that they cannot share this knowledge with adults and that adults are ambivalent and avoid talking to young people honestly and openly about sexual matters and HIV/AIDS.
  • There is a difference between what girls and boys experience. While there are gender differences there are also common cross gender concerns.

On sex education in schools

  • Young people want a more interactive and active pedagogy that allows them to engage with their knowledge and talk about their lack of knowledge.
  • They are concerned that the information they get is unrealistic and does not reflect the world they live in.
  • The teachers want to help but not many are confident or feel well resourced. Some are more frightened of engaging in discussions about HIV/AIDS than others.
  • The school or the practices in school are influenced by the wider community and the dominant attitudes (e.g. religion, cultural practices). The school is a mirror of the community it sits in.
  • There are very different conceptions about the values and approaches that might be effective and which of these should be adopted.

Dialogue about the data

  • We also proposed that a way to shift attitudes and engage with the sexual knowledge of young people might be to share the findings of the data on young people’s sexual knowledge and their preferred form of sex education.
  • This we did and it appears that:
    • The adults were surprised at and interested in the extent and nature of the young people's knowledge.
    • The adults were willing to engage with the idea of non naive young people and this fact offered a different possibility in terms of sex and HIV/AIDS education.
    • Adults seemed open to the potential for dialogue about HIV/AIDS education for their young people.