2014. 9 p.
African Journal of AIDS Research 2014, 13 (1): 65–73
HIV and AIDS affect all South Africans, irrespective of gender, race, age and economic status. Teachers should therefore be able to meaningfully integrate HIV content into the school curriculum. However, pre-service teacher education programmes still do not pay adequate attention to HIV education, particularly in institutions where students are being prepared to work in environments that are perceived to be unaffected by the consequences of the pandemic. This article advocates that HIV education should be integrated into contexts of privilege and presents evidence of the influence that a critical pedagogical approach can have on changing student perceptions of the need to address HIV in and through their teaching. We led 109 Post-graduate Certificate of Education students through a series of activities that required them to critically reflect on their feelings, attitudes and perceived skills with regard to HIV and AIDS education; to identify potential areas of personal change; and to begin to imagine alternative professional possibilities. We generated qualitative data through drawings, group discussions, individual written reflections, and a voluntary focus group. A content analysis of the data revealed that the participating students initially felt incompetent to incorporate HIV and related issues into their teaching, and felt hesitant and uncomfortable at the prospect. However, a critical reflection on their thinking, both individually and in a group setting, served to shift them towards a more holistic, critical and humanising understanding of the pandemic and the role they could play as future teachers in helping to mitigate its impact. The findings provide evidence that a critical pedagogical approach — particularly with groups who believe that HIV and AIDS is not something that concerns them — can provide an effective way to mediate the knowledge, skills and attitudes that competent teachers need in today’s world.
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