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NATIONAL HIV/AIDS RESEARCH AND BEST PRACTICES CONFERENCE - page 14 / 103

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A.9.Profile of a SAFE School

Prof Moira Chimombo

Background: SAFE has developed an eight-year faith-based educational program, the WHY WAIT? Curriculum (Standard 5 through Form 4), targeted at HIV/AIDS prevention through promotion of life skills and character development. Since 1994, with Ministry of Education approval, SAFE has conducted regular training workshops to prepare committed teachers to teach WHY WAIT?. The Head of the largest primary school in Malawi, in Blantyre, was first appointed to the school in September 1998. He had already been trained as a WHY WAIT? teacher and trainer, and had implemented the program in his previous school.

Method: The purpose of this paper is to document the strategies the Head used to develop a safe environment for both girls and boys at the school and to get the cooperation of all the teachers. An additional purpose is to document the outcomes of this intervention. This has been done by interviewing the Head and several teachers; several pupils; District and Division Education officials; and parents.

Results: By the end of the 1998 school year, when the Head had been at the school only one term, over 120 girls had dropped out due to pregnancy. There were many other discipline problems at the school. From that time, the Head managed to turn the school around, and, since 2000, only one girl has dropped out as a result of pregnancy, and she was raped. The Head has intervened in a number of cases when guardians have pressured girls in their care into early marriages. He has assisted orphans to continue at school. He has persuaded the teachers to go for VCT. He has developed good relationships with the whole community.

Conclusions: A case study is a useful way of documenting the outcomes of efforts to encourage behavior change among primary school pupils, and even among their teachers. It is also useful for assessing the impact on the community.

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