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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Rights, responsibility, and culture in Botswana HIV and AIDS education

Scott Pulizzi, MA, Education Development Center, 55 Chapel Street, Netwon, MA 02458, 16176182609, spulizzi@edc.org


Early HIV interventions in Botswana were designed for individual behaviour change independent of social context. Safer sex and gender safety were presented in a way that seemingly discredited all traditional practises. This approach was divisive, especially among age cohorts, and nationally demoralising.


A new approach – using old values – was needed for effective HIV education; preventing new infections, fighting AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, and promoting gender equity. The Botswana Ministry of Education, BOTUSA (a partnership between the MOH and the CDC) and Education Development Center, Inc., developed materials based on the Botswana principle of ‘Botho' or humanness. ‘Botho' teaches respect for other's rights, oneself, and is a call to social responsibility. Over 200 activities were developed for learners for grades 1 – 12. The interactive skill-building activities emphasize how one's actions ramify in the family and community. The materials allow for infusion and integration of HIV messages into a broad array of subjects such as moral education and language, rather than just health or science.

Lessons Learnt:

A qualitative evaluation of the pilot process in 42 schools, 115 teachers and over 7,000 learners revealed that western approaches based solely on individual change were not as effective at motivating learners as the environmental change approach based on ‘Botho' and Botswana culture.

Next Steps:

The partners will conduct a national roll out so that by the end of 2006 all schools in the country will have materials and trained teachers.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Change, Culture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Policy Perspectives on Human Rights and Attention to HIV/AIDS Issues

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA