research was conducted using both the quantitative and
qualitative approaches in order to assess
comprehensively, the knowledge, attitudes, and practices
of primary school teachers, student teachers, and other
stakeholders in the education system with regard to life
skills, gender, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS. The purpose was
to provide adequate information to guide the
introduction of an HIV/AIDS and life skills programme in
primary schools and teachers training colleges.
Altogether, 728 respondents were interviewed - 307 males
(42.17%) and 421 females (57.83%) from 21 districts in
four Provinces of Butare, Kibuye, Ruhengeri, Umutara and
the city of Kigali. The target group comprised 508
primary school teachers (70% of all research
participants), 16 TTC (Teacher Training Colleges)
teachers, 120 TTC students, 18 parents, 10 heads of
primary schools and 56 primary school children. The
methodology used included FGDs (Focus Group
Discussions), interviews, questionnaires, and
observation techniques complemented by the review of
existing literature on the subject.
study revealed that a significant number of teachers did
not have adequate general knowledge of the sexually
transmitted diseases, including AIDS, while others had
either incorrect or little information. Approximately,
85% of teachers said that they encountered problems in
finding appropriate responses to questions related to
HIV and AIDS with more female teachers (88%) than male
teachers (78%) indicating greater difficulties. In
addition, less than 20% of the in-service female and
male teachers were able to give correct estimates of HIV
prevalence in Rwanda, while only slightly more than a
quarter of them knew that the first case of HIV/AIDS was
reported in Rwanda in 1983.
It was found that some teachers occasionally spoke about
HIV/AIDS with students, but in an unsystematic way,
while others had yet to take this initiative. The
majority of teachers proposed the idea of formally
integrating HIV/AIDS education into the school system.
Parents, TTC students, and teachers shared this view.
All respondents proposed that, prior to formalising
HIV/AIDS as a course in the school curriculum, it was
essential to provide training to teachers, make training
materials and textbooks available, and to mobilise some
of the parents and teachers to participate actively in
the AIDS education programme.
Less than half of the participating teachers (44% males
and 40% females) were unaware of the difference between
sexuality and sexual intercourse. Their concept of
sexuality was limited to their concept of sex.
Some teachers and parents expressed the belief that
speaking about condom use influenced the children to
engage in sexual immorality. In addition, it was found
that school children highly appreciated lessons on
sexuality, with notable high participation of the boys
while many girls appeared shy.
The study revealed the absence of any standardised
methodologies for teaching sexuality education; hence,
teachers conducted HIV/AIDS lessons in the best ways
they knew how. Teachers expressed the need for an
appropriate pedagogy that was participatory, included
audio-visual material and other relevant teaching aids.
Trainee teachers confirmed information from their
teachers that there existed neither curriculum nor
methodology for HIV/AIDS education in their colleges.
They recommended that future teachers be relatively
better trained to address the AIDS pandemic.
Myths and prejudices surround HIV/AIDS issues. For
example, 48% female and 22% male student teachers felt
that people with HIV/AIDS should be isolated. In
addition, parents were of the view that teaching about
condom use to primary school children would lead to
promiscuity amongst them.
The teachers interviewed considered that both modernity
and tradition influenced sexual behaviour and by
implication, the spread of HIV and AIDS. Some Rwandan
traditional practices such as, polygyny (having multiple
wives), 'gukazanura', 'kurumika', 'guhungura',
and the belief that 'a woman belonged to the family
of her husband and not the husband alone', were
described as easy channels of HIV transmission. Teachers
proposed that HIV/AIDS education addressed both positive
and negative aspects of cultural concerns.
Findings exposed a clear need for a comprehensive
teacher training programme that would offer teachers
adequate and relevant information about HIV and AIDS as
well as the related concepts. Undoubtedly, the magnitude
of HIV and AIDS pandemic and the high level of ignorance
about its nature, demands that education decision-makers
and officials initiate the proposed teacher training
that would incorporate participatory methodologies, life
skills for HIV/AIDS education and care for people living
with HIV and AIDS as a matter of urgency. There was a
strong feeling amongst many of the teachers that from
each school in the country, at least two teachers should
be trained as HIV/AIDS counsellors. In addition, a
school radio programme, media campaigns, and use of
audio visual aids were recommended to enhance HIV/AIDS