The formation of a critical, compassionate citizenry: the inculcation of HIV/AIDS curricula into South African Higher Education

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28 p.

There have been numerous programmes internationally and continentally that involve the careful and sometimes not too careful inculcation of HIV/AIDS awareness into curricula. The majority of these have centred on adolescent programmes because, naturally, it is generally perceived that this age group is both sexually active and adventurous in so far as they are exploring boundaries that are simultaneously sexual, political and social. As the Love Life campaigns have proved, the adolescent and especially the early adolescent is a notoriously difficult age group to address effectively. The unique cultural sensitivities that can be particular to a small group make reaching this group very much a hit and (more often) miss affair.The period of late adolescence/early adulthood brings with it a growing responsibility and a greater opportunity. It is thus a period of social acculturation that settles the student into more steadfast sub-cultural groupings that may not meet with the unconditional approval of mainstream society but, at least, are becoming more consolidated and recognisable. As far as the student is concerned, this makes the introduction of AIDS awareness into the courses he or she studies intellectually easier provided that this kind of learning does not clash with the specific inclination of the sub cultural belonging.Higher education differs from schooling in one major respect - the comfort zone of the school, the many years of habitualised learning and the pace of learning is replaced by a foreign, larger environment where the demands made upon the student are such that learning occurs at a greater speed and in a less secure environment. This means that the curriculum that they are confronted with must not only appear relevant to the present circumstances but also useable in later life. Moreover, it must also contribute to the formation of a critical, compassionate citizenry: a graduate that is able to think conceptually and critically about the world around him or her, that has the capacity to act compassionately towards those less fortunate and equipped to take his or her place in the betterment of the nation.

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