HIV and AIDS education and support in adult literacy PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Operation Upgrade uses the language experience approach in combination with pair and group work, role plays, case studies, stories, drama and song, questioning and eliciting, demonstration, etc – a variety of participative methods in combination with structured learning exercises.  Early literacy learning uses an eclectic approach in which learners analyse sentences into words and then syllables, and then rebuild the sentences.  The sentences are taken from the learners’ discussions. We also use word puzzles, pictures to be matched with text, bingo games and other activities at this stage.  We teach visual literacy especially for rural learners.

A play about the impact of HIV by literacy learners
learners sing their own song about human rights and AIDS

All literacy educators trained by Operation Upgrade develop the skill of producing a lesson plan with two lesson outcomes:
  • one literacy outcome (analyse two sentences and write them / make three new words and use them in sentences / write three short sentences on the topic / discuss and write a paragraph about the cause of the problem), and
  • one ‘development’ outcome (read a medicine instruction / complete an application form/ list foods in the three main food groups / describe how to make water clean by using bleach, etc).  The development outcome is based on a topic such as HIV and AIDS, or clean water, or child abuse.

The topic, which can be an aspect of the HIV and AIDS body of knowledge or any other, is introduced at the beginning of the lesson, sometimes as a discussion, but more often as a story, a song, a play or a picture code.  This is commonly done in isiZulu whether the lesson is aimed at learning literacy in isiZulu or English.  The code is then analysed in discussion.  The educators follow a standard pattern in the discussion questions – what happens in the code / what are the feelings of the people in it and what do you feel about it /  do you know if this has happened in your community / what do you think should be done about it?

After the discussion, during which the educator usually provides information as well as discussion guidance, the literacy work happens.  It is based on what the topic was, and what the learners say about it.  Early literacy learners will analyse and synthesize one or two of their own sentences from the discussion.  More literate learners will be asked to work in small groups to summarise the important points of the discussion in writing.

New English learners will work from their own sentences to English sentences with new words explained, and then perhaps do a gap-fill exercise before writing out the new sentences and reading them to each other in pair-work.  But the sentences will be about the topic.

 A session for educators about human rights and AIDS ABET literacy and AIDS educators in training

Integration of HIV and AIDS with literacy learning

The educators in training on the HIV and AIDS course make a list of the AIDS topics they want to cover in literacy lessons.  Then in groups they plan lessons on the basis outlined above.  After the course they make their own lesson plans that incorporate some of the HIV/AIDS topics. We have a large number of sample lesson plans sent in from educators in the field.

In this way it is possible to integrate HIV and AIDS with literacy lessons.  Some of the topics identified by the educators for HIV and AIDS literacy lessons:

  • What are HIV and AIDS?
  • How to prevent yourself from getting the HIV virus
  • Voluntary testing and counselling
  • Living positively
  • Things people believe about HIV and AIDS that are wrong (myths)
  • HIV and AIDS stigma
  • How to care for sick people at home / feeding/  bed-bathing/ treatment of minor health problems like thrush in the mouth
  • How can we help people who are too sick to help themselves
  • Getting an AIDS disability grant
  • Insurance and HIV and AIDS

 Educators learning about hygiene on the AIDS course Educators learning to develop songs with learners about AIDS

For support material the educators use two discussion guides produced by Operation Upgrade, available in English and Zulu: Good Health Begins At Home, and the HIV and AIDS Community Support Facilitator Guide.  These suggest questions to guide discussion on a topic, and provide background information for the educator, plus some suggestions for action projects.  They are based on ‘talking pictures’ – A3 size line drawings illustrating the themes in the books.

This component of the Literacy against AIDS project has been particularly successful.  Many literacy learners have been able to interrogate information about the disease.  Some have said “Why didn’t you tell us before?  Now I know why my children died.”  People have been able to test the beliefs they held about AIDS, for example:

  • It is a women’s disease.
  • People with HIV have been immoral.
  • The deaths are caused by witchcraft.
  • If you touch an infected person, you will be infected yourself with HIV.
  • HIV is a death sentence – you might as well die now.
  • A dose of Nevirapine will cure the disease.   

In some situations adult learners have started community action projects to help others affected by the disease.  It is important to note that adult literacy learners are often those who are not part of other communication approaches about HIV and AIDS, as they do not read pamphlets or posters, and they may not have access to other mass media communications about the disease.  Certainly, like anyone else they need to be able to discuss such information and ask questions – and often the literacy class is the only forum they have for such enquiry.

After evaluation Operation Upgrade is confident that through literacy work the Literacy AIDS educators have been able to inform large numbers of people about HIV and AIDS, so helping to make people at community level better informed.  By 2009 Operation Upgrade has trained 324 literacy educators to understand this disease and to integrate knowledge about HIV and AIDS into their literacy teaching.

HIV and AIDS and literacy learning

The educators in training on the HIV and AIDS course make a list of the AIDS topics they want to cover in literacy lessons.  Then in groups they plan lessons on the basis outlined above.  After the course they make their own lesson plans that incorporate some of the HIV/AIDS topics.

EMSENI Community Centre

We have set up a community centre in KwaNibela, called Emseni Community Centre. (“Emseni” means Place of Kindness.) We have built two large rondavels there, one to accommodate our staff and visitors, and one for storage.

The UNESCO Confucius Prize

“The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy was awarded to Operation Upgrade of South Africa, for the “KwaNibela Project”, and continues the Organisation’s 40-year history of commitment and change.  Website Hosted by Pro Hosting Internet Services