Changing Norms about Life Skills and Sexuality Education through Empowerment: A study of public secondary life skills teachers’ experiences and perceptions in Zanzibar
Abstract: Formal life skills education, including topics related to sexuality, was developed in the1990s to prevent HIV/AIDS as well as a method to strengthen ‘good’ behaviours amongstudents in schools. In Zanzibar, life skills education interventions have duplicated inrecent years. However, it can still be difficult to discuss topics related to sexuality andharmful traditions such as early marriage, unintended pregnancies, and the shame ofcondom use is perpetuated. Children in Zanzibar may therefore approach adulthoodwith confusion and lack of knowledge.Teachers play an important, yet difficult, role to deliver formal life skills and sexualityeducation. This study focuses on how teachers in Zanzibar experience and perceive lifeskills education, including topics related to sexuality, in public secondary schools. Thedata is based on interviews with 10 life skills teachers at three chosen schools in thedistrict of Mjini Magharibi in Zanzibar. In my study, I have focused on norm changingand empowerment by looking at teachers’ perceived challenges of teaching life skillsand topics related to sexuality, their role and approach and the perceived impact thiseducation may have for the theirs’ and the learners’ empowerment.The results show that the teachers have the willingness to teach about life skills andtopics related to sexuality. The teachers are also a trust-worthy source of informationand advice for the learners. However, lack of material-, human-, and social resourcesand resistance from the community is slowing the implementation and changes innorms regarding life skills and sexuality education. The results also show positive impactsfor the teachers’ and learners’ empowerment through the knowledge in life skillsand topics related to sexuality, which strengthen earlier research.
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