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YouthNet

Teacher training: Essential for school-based reproductive health and HIV/AIDS education
Focus on Sub-Saharan Africa

Tijuana A. James-Traore, William Finger, Claudia Daileader Ruland and Stephanie Savariaud

YouthNet

2004

SARPN acknowledges YouthNet as a source of this document: www.fhi.org/youthnet
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Introduction

Teacher training in any subject is important. For teaching information and skills related to reproductive health (RH) and HIV/AIDS, teacher training is even more essential – and complex. In many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the AIDS epidemic has spread to the general population, with up to half of all new HIV infections occurring among youth under age 25. Since most youth attend school at least for primary education, school-based programs are a logical place to reach young people. Understanding the importance and techniques of teacher training in sexuality education in Africa is particularly urgent.

The 2001 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on AIDS sought to ensure that by 2005, at least 90 percent of the world’s youth have access to information and education necessary to reduce their vulnerability to AIDS. Teachers are a crucial link in providing valuable information about reproductive health and HIV/AIDS to youth. But to do so effectively, they need to understand the subject, acquire good teaching techniques, and understand what is developmentally and culturally appropriate. Teacher attitudes and experiences affect their comfort with, and capacity to teach about, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. The pre-service setting offers an opportunity for future teachers to explore their own beliefs and concerns about these topics, while in-service training allows those already teaching to assess their views and increase their competence and confidence.

This paper addresses a topic that lacks extensive research and evaluation but is critical to advancing the needs of youth. The first two chapters put teacher training in the context of school-based RH/HIV education and summarize the limited research available on the topic. The paper then focuses on the African context, identifying particular challenges (Chapter 3) and summarizing teacher training projects in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe (Chapter 4). The next two chapters assess two key aspects of the topic: the selection of teachers and the elements of a teacher training curriculum. The closing chapter presents summary observations and conclusions.

We hope this paper proves useful to ministries of education, teachers associations, teacher training schools, nongovernmental organizations working to expand RH/HIV education, and ultimately, through these groups to youth themselves. We welcome your comments on this report.

— Nancy E. Williamson, YouthNet Program Director



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