Life skills training as HIV/AIDS preventive strategy in secondary schools: evaluation of a large-scale implementation process

SAHARA J. 2005 Apr;2(1):203-16. doi: 10.1080/17290376.2005.9724843.


A life skills and HIV/AIDS education programme was implemented in secondary schools as a strategy to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS among school-going young people in South Africa. As part of a joint effort of the Departments of Health and Education, two teachers per school were trained to implement life skills training and HIV/AIDS education in schools as part of the school curriculum. The implementation of the intervention was evaluated in 24 schools in two educational districts in Gauteng province using an action research approach. Data about the implementation were gathered through interviews and focus group discussions with school principals, teachers and learners. A repeated measurement research design was used to assess the impact of the intervention in terms of knowledge, attitudes and reported risk behaviour in a sample of 667 learners representing learners from grades 8 to 12 from different population groups. Results showed that the programme was not implemented as planned in schools due to organisational problems in the schools, lack of commitment of the teachers and the principal, non-trusting relationships between teachers and learners, lack of resources and conflicting goals in the educational system. In an outcome evaluation over the period of a year it was found that learners' knowledge of HIV/AIDS increased and their attitudes were more positive although the changes may not be attributed to the programme alone. In the post-test more learners were sexually active, although preventive behaviour did not increase. The programme as implemented in the area did not succeed in changing high-risk behaviour patterns among school-going young people. From the evaluation of the intervention a few valuable lessons were learned about the content and implementation of HIV/AIDS preventive interventions, which could be useful in the implementation of various other HIV/AIDS preventive interventions in the community.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Curriculum*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Primary Prevention*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools*
  • South Africa
  • Surveys and Questionnaires