Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg) (02.09.12) - Friday, February
A new study finds that two-thirds of South African sixth-
graders lack basic knowledge about HIV/AIDS.
"The results [indicate] that major alarm bells should be
ringing in South Africa [because] knowledge levels about HIV
and AIDS among around two-thirds of grade six learners in 2007
were below a benchmark defined as mastery of more than one-
half the official school curriculum," wrote study authors
Meshack Moloi and Mark Chetty. The findings are from the
latest Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring
Educational Quality report, which is based on research in 15
nations in 2007.
Socioeconomic status greatly affected HIV/AIDS awareness: 17
percent of lower-income students had basic knowledge levels
versus 65 percent of their wealthier peers. Large provincial
variations were seen as well, with Gauteng scoring high and
Limpopo low in student awareness of the virus.
"Before 2008 [Limpopo] did not have someone assigned to
specifically deal with HIV-awareness programs in schools, but
now we have a person to do that," said provincial education
department spokesperson Pat Kgomo.
South Africa's education leaders point to a dedicated HIV/AIDS
awareness budget and expanded programming since 2007.
"Recently the Department of Health has approached us on their
voluntary testing model which we are currently in discussion
to assist in addressing [HIV awareness levels]," said
Department of Education spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi.
To view the report, visit