Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I have spoken in the past about my passion for teaching HIV education at the primary school here, and this first week I was able to reacquaint myself with the program I helped put together in 2008.

However, an ongoing trend of the ups and downs of development work has become apparent - even more so than when I returned last year.

Out of the 17 students in our class given to us by the teacher in charge of the program (although we have requested to only have classes of 10), only eight passed the HIV education test given to them at the end of the week.

It's discouraging because not only are the students struggling with the concepts being taught to them, they are also attempting to overcome a steep learning curve by having the program taught in English.

I will be returning on Monday with Sma, one of our Zulu translators, to try to decipher which students are failing the class because of their poor English skills, or whether they just do not understand the concepts being taught to them.

It brings about questions for me that surround an issue that was in the headlines when I left Canada over a week ago. When Dalton McGuinty pulled the new proposal for teaching sex education in schools, I was outraged.

I am a firm believer that sex education taught at a young age will produce a culture of dialogue around issues of great importance, like sexually transmitted infections and relationships in general. Silencing education for primary school students stunts any progress we have made in being more conscious of what dialogue around an issue can positively accomplish.

Sex education has been a hot topic in the house since the South African student's test results came back. Some of those in the volunteer house never received sex education, and some were given a watered-down version of an anatomy lesson. It seems no one is satisfied with their own education around the subject. For as many problems as we have with the world's teaching (or lack thereof) of sex, we have no answers; or at least we can't seem to agree on any solutions.

It's a harsh reminder of development initiatives and the burnout that can happen around certain projects.

Hopefully we can revive a program that once had the students jumping out of their seats to answer questions and participate in games, and had an impeccable success rate.

No comments:

Post a Comment