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Performative Praxis

Teacher Identity and Teaching in the Context of HIV/AIDS

Mary Jean Baxen

It is widely recognized that the South African government’s exemplary HIV/AIDS education policy is not making the behaviour-changing impact that it ought. Why is this? What is actually happening in the school classroom?
In this book, Jean Baxen makes an important contribution towards understanding the complex interface between the HIV/AIDS education curriculum and what and how teachers are teaching in the classroom. Bringing Judith Butler’s theory of performativity to bear in an analysis of the pedagogic practice of a number of teachers in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga, the author shows how teachers’ personal conception of their role and identity as educators plays a vitally important role in filtering and shaping the classroom transmission of key information and attitudes.

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Introduction 13

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13 Introduction HIV/AIDS prevalence amid heterosexual populations in Sub-Saharan Africa is amongst the highest in the world. As one of the countries in this region, South Africa experienced an increase in its infected population from about 3.5 million in 1999 (World Bank, 2000) to almost double the number in a very short space of time (about 6.5 million in 2002 accord- ing to the ASSA model by Dorrington, Bradshaw and Budlender (2002). Figures from UNAIDS (2006) show the number of those living with HIV in South Africa to be at about 5.5 million (available at http:/data.unaids. org/pub/EPISlides/2007/071118_epi_revisions_factsheet_en.pd). Projec- tions of the pandemic’s potential devastation on the economic and so- cial well-being of the country are well documented (see Coombe, 2000; Dorrington, Bradshaw & Budlender, 2002; Barnett & Whiteside, 2002). The accuracy of these projections is not of consequence here. Suf- fice it to say that their significance is twofold: they indicate both on the magnitude of the problem and the consequences for government, in terms of planning at the systemic level and taking proactive steps to combat the disease and provide support for those infected and affected. In the wake of these projections, many strategies and programmes have been developed and implemented to educate the South African population against infection and to combat rates of infection. These have included, among others, the development of policies (national,1 provincial and local); mass media campaigns (television,2 billboards,3 newspapers); peer education, workplace training and support; and free access...

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