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“To take the information down to the people” : life skills and HIV/AIDS peer educators in the Durban area

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Education in “life skills” has been a central pillar of state and NGO strategy in combating the threat of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Based on research conducted in Durban in 1999, this paper examines how life skills education – thought of by some as a euphemism for “teaching about safe sex” but by others as an essential way of contextualising sex education in its broader context of empowerment and striving for equitable gender relations – is understood in contrasting ways by senior personnel and the largely unpaid volunteers who form the ranks of peer educators. Outlining the complicated institutional context of funding and educational practice in which this teaching has been taking place, the paper shows how conceptualisations of the role played by life skills peer educators, and their motivation for involvement in such programmes, diverge considerably. Senior personnel see educators as conveyors of accurate biological knowledge about reproduction and disease transmission to their peers and, subscribing to development discourse about “sustainability”, perceive them as driven primarily by an altruistic spirit of voluntarism. What is equally important for some peer educators, however, is the sense of identity provided by involvement in such programmes, and the prospects for future employment, and escape from the beleaguered world of township poverty, which they offer.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/793/1/to_take_the_information.pdf

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