This compelling study, comprising of a sample of eight schools in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa – Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania – examines the sources, contents and processes of children´s community-based sexual knowledges and asks how these knowledges interact with AIDS education programmes in school. Old enough to know showcases the possibilities of consulting pupils using engaging, interactive and visual methods including digital still photography, mini-video documentaries, as well as interviews and observations. These innovative methods allow children to speak freely and openly in contexts where talking about sex to adults is a cultural taboo.
The study also sheds fresh light on teachers´ fears and struggles with a lack of training and limited opportunities for reflection on practice. It engages in dialogue with conflicting voices of community stakeholders who are both aware of the dangers faced by children living in a world with AIDS and who are also afraid of the many cultural, religious and moral restraints to sex education in Africa.
Tables and figures
Abbreviations and acronyms
Old enough to know visual data: Photovoice
Appendix 1: Research instruments
Appendix 2: Toolkit for change
Appendix 3: Informed consent (samples from South Africa)
Notes on authors
Colleen McLaughlin (UK), PhD, is Deputy Head of Faculty at the Faculty of Education University of Cambridge, where she is responsible for international initiatives. She is also a project leader in the Centre for Commonwealth Education. She has a lifelong interest in the psychosocial aspects of education and has worked on the personal and social aspects of education, including sex education, for the last thirty years. Other recent research has included research on of bullying and difference, and counselling interventions with children and young people. Her recent publications include The Supportive School: Wellbeing and the Young Adolescent (2011)(with J Gray, M Galton, B Clark, & J Symonds. Cambridge: Scholars Press); Networking Practitioner Research (2007) (C McLaughlin, K Black-Hawkins & D McIntyre. London: Routledge) and Researching Schools: Stories from a Schools–University Partnership for Educational Research (2006) (C McLaughlin, K Black-Hawkins, S Brindley, D McIntyre & K Taber, London: Routledge).
Sharlene Swartz (South Africa), PhD, is a sociologist and Research Director in the Human and Social Development research programme at the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa. She is also a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Commonwealth Education, University of Cambridge, UK. She has undergraduate degrees in science (University of the Witwatersrand) and theology (University of Zululand), both in South Africa, and holds a masters degree from Harvard University and a PhD in the Sociology of Education from the University of Cambridge, UK. Her research interests focus on youth and poverty, social inequality, the sociology of morality and masculine moralities. She is the author of Teenage tata (Cape Town, HSRC Press, 2009 with A Bhana), The moral ecology of South Africa’s township youth (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009; Johannesburg: Wits Press, 2010) and Moral Education in sub-Saharan Africa: Culture, economics, conflict and AIDS (London: Routledge, 2011, co-edited with M Taylor).
Susan Kiragu (Kenya), PhD, is a social scientist, and a Research Associate at The Centre for Commonwealth Education, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK. She has undergraduate and masters’ degrees in education from Kenyan universities, and a masters degree and a PhD in education from the University of Cambridge. Her research interests are centred in Africa – especially on HIV/AIDS and sexuality education, and gender and education. She has published in journals such as Journal of Moral Education, Qualitative Research and Sex Education, in addition to a number of book chapters.
Shelina Walli (Tanzania) is assistant lecturer at Aga Khan University, Institute of Educational Development East Africa (AKU IED-EA), based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She has an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and a Masters of Education (Teacher Education) from AKU IED-EA. Her master’s thesis considered the integration of HIV/AIDS education into the pre-school curriculum. She has a passion for early childhood and has been in the field of education in various capacities for 20 years.
Mussa Mohamed (Tanzania) is a science and health education facilitator at Aga Khan University, Institute of Educational Development (IED) East Africa, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He has an undergraduate degree in Science with Education from Dar es Salaam University, and holds a masters degree from Aga Khan University, IED, Pakistan. His research interests focus on improving the teaching and learning of HIV/AIDS and on promoting science literacy.
The teachers are careful with us because they think we are still young… They think we are too young to know... They think we are going to be naughty or sometimes experiment [with] what they told us ... [but] who wants to experiment with AIDS? (Children, aged 12 to 13, School A, South Africa)
The bundle of evidence from the three countries on the gap between children's knowledge of sexuality and the lack of interaction with that knowledge within the school context is rich and convincing. The findings contribute to work on sexuality education that points at the necessity to understand youth's sexual knowledge.
Dr Ariane DeLannoy, Children's Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa
This book offers an important contribution towards understanding how children's sexual subjectivity is shaped by contexts of culture, gender, poverty, living environments and schooling. The study offers possibilities to resolve the gap between children's everyday realities on the one hand and teachers' curriculum-based and cultural restraints on the other.
Mike Younger, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
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