Caught in culture? Cultural transformation through HIV/AIDS prevention education in Zambia

Case Studies & Research
Stockholm University
300 p., map

The study explores the role and contribution of education in developing a localized and relevant HIV/AIDS prevention strategy through a multi-voiced approach, involving the educational institutions, as well as the traditional leaders, community-members, including parents. The study comprised all public schools in one Zambian province from 2002-2008. The study explores, among other factors, the role of traditional culture in mitigating and exacerbating the spread of the disease. The study revealed the mismatch between the decentralized, national HIV/AIDS prevention education approach, as stated in the policy documents and the global UNAIDS, centralized and cross-sectoral strategies favored by the Zambian government. When analyzing the participatory approaches of the HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, predominantly, at the school-community level, the findings revealed that the traditional leaders, being legitimate leaders in their kingdoms, and the custodians of culture and traditions, were found to be gate openers to promote behavioral change and cultural transformation in their villages. The traditional leaders worked hand in hand with the schools and the villagers. Utilizing their traditional leadership structures, the chiefs sustained their cultural rites, e.g. cleansing, in order to chase away the evil spirits, by turning the rites into practices that do no put people at risk for contracting HIV.

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