South Africa is one of the countries with the highest prevalence of HIV infection in the world,
particularly among the youth between the ages 15 and 24 years. The number of infections
among the youth in South Africa is still increasing and this does not exclude the youth under
study in the community of Eersterust.
The HIV and AIDS epidemic is affecting large numbers of adolescents, throughout South
Africa leading to serious psychological, social, economic and educational problems. Because
of the devastating effect and rapid increase of HIV-infections among adolescents, it has
become evident that not only government departments (Department of Health and
Department of Education), but also community-based educational support structures
(organisations) should share the responsibility by playing a pro-active role in awareness and
the curbing of the spread of HIV-infection among adolescents.
Various researchers have been focusing on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of
adolescents but limited research has been done on the contribution of community-based
educational support programmes with regard to creating awareness and the curbing of the
further spread of HIV-infection among adolescents. This study which seeked to address the
need for ongoing research in this field, attempted to investigate whether and how communitybased
educational programmes address the educational needs of adolescents within a
particular community, namely Eersterust.
In order to determine these needs, quantitative and qualitative descriptive research
approaches were utilized comprising of a questionnaire survey and focus group interviews.
The questionnaire survey explored the knowledge, skills, attitudes and sexual behaviour of the 916 participants. The results from the questionnaire were utilized to determine the
educational needs of adolescents.
Focus group interviews were conducted with 11 adolescents who attended the educational
support programmes at the Youth Development Outreach Centre and the Circle of Life
Centre. The latter are two community-based organisations in the community under study
(Eersterust). The focus group interviews were utilized to determine the views of the
adolescents with regard to the mode of delivery and effectiveness of the community-based
educational support programmes.
From the data in the questionnaire the educational needs of adolescents were identified and
compared with the content of the community-based educational support programmes of the
two community-based support structures. The findings revealed that the community-based
educational support programmes are to a large extent addressing the HIV and AIDS
educational needs of the adolescents under study.
The focus group interviews revealed that the participants are of the opinion that they find the
programmes interesting and enriching. They benefit educationally by attending the
educational programmes and they would recommend the programmes to other adolescents.
The findings indicate that the educational programmes are appropriate to address the HIV
and AIDS educational needs of the adolescents. The educational needs identified in the
empirical research are however not fulfilled because many of the adolescents do not attend the educational programmes. There are only a few adolescents who attend these
educational programmes. The latter might be a contributing factor to the high HIV-infection