4. Key research findings
1 Key Findings from the ASKAIDS Research
The content of this toolkit was informed by a research study funded by the Commonwealth Education Trust. It took place in Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania, and involved 130 pupils and 48 teachers. Key findings from this study are presented below in 3 themes: young people's sexual knowledges, sexual education in schools, and dialogue about the data.
1.1 On young people’s sexual knowledges
- Young people have wide-ranging and fairly sophisticated knowledge of adults’ sexual practices and sexual worlds e.g. prostitution, the influence of drugs and alcohol, of rape and prostitution.
- They observe sexual acts regularly and are well aware of the particular practices in their environs.
- The young people were primary pupils in this study so we can assume that this occurs at a fairly young age.
- They are well aware of the dangers of HIV/AIDS and keen to avoid them.
- They want a lot more information and dialogue with adults on sexual matters and HIV/AIDS in particular.
- They are aware that they cannot share this knowledge with adults and that adults are ambivalent and avoid talking to young people honestly and openly about sexual matters and HIV/AIDS.
- There is a difference between what girls and boys experience. While there are gender differences there are also common cross gender concerns.
1.2 On sex education in schools
- Young people want a more interactive and active pedagogy that allows them to engage with their knowledge and talk about their lack of knowledge.
- They are concerned that the information they get is unrealistic and does not reflect the world they live in.
- The teachers want to help but not many are confident or feel well resourced. Some are more frightened of engaging in discussions about HIV/AIDS than others.
- The school or the practices in school are influenced by the wider community and the dominant attitudes (e.g. religion, cultural practices). The school is a mirror of the community it sits in.
- There are very different conceptions about the values and approaches that might be effective and which of these should be adopted.
1.3 Dialogue about the data
- We also proposed that a way to shift attitudes and engage with the sexual knowledge of young people might be to share the findings of the data on young people’s sexual knowledge and their preferred form of sex education.
- This we did and it appears that:
- The adults were surprised at and interested in the extent and nature of the young people’s knowledge.
- The adults were willing to engage with the idea of non naïve young people and this fact offered a different possibility in terms of sex and HIV/AIDS education
- Adults seemed open to the potential for dialogue about HIV/AIDS education for their young people