Life skills education: Reducing sexual risk behaviour among young women in South Africa? Analysing the effect of life skills education on life skills knowledge, sexual risk behaviour and HIV prevalence
Abstract: South Africa is considered to be the epicentre of the HIV pandemic and its women are disproportionally affected by the disease. A key strategy to prevent and mitigate the spread of HIV infection is the implementation of life skills education in all primary and secondary schools. The purpose is to increase the knowledge and skills on sexual and reproductive health by providing education, care and support among young people. This thesis analyses the long-term impact of being exposed to two consecutive life skills education programs, implemented in South Africa between 2000 and 2011, on the level of life skills knowledge, level of sexual risk behaviour and HIV prevalence among young women. The main hypothesis tests whether exposure to the life skills programs decreases the level of sexual risk behaviour through increased level of life skills knowledge. Subsequently, also decreasing HIV prevalence. The method used is the difference-in-difference, which estimates the effect of the programs across cohorts based on the year of birth and initial level of life skills knowledge across municipalities. The effect of the programs is compared between individuals with little or full exposure to the programs and individuals with no exposure. The findings suggest that the life skills education programs did not have statistically significant effect on the level of life skills knowledge, level of sexual risk behaviour or HIV prevalence. Thus, concluding that the programs have not yielded the desired and anticipated outcomes as specified in this research.
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