Literacy, Knowledge, and Worldview Transformation: A Pivotal Linkage and Primary Preventative Tool to Combat the HIV/AIDS Crisis

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF2 // This paper explored female adult literacy rates in Sub-Saharan African countries vis-à-vis the effort to limit rapid transmission of HIV/AIDS. Available data reveal that highest female adult literacy rates were in the southern African region: South Africa, 83.9%; Swaziland, 77.3%; Botswana, 78.2%; Lesotho, 92.9%; Zimbabwe, 82.9%, and Namibia, 79.8%, Zambia 69.1% (HDR, 2000). Despite the high literacy rates, these countries register the highest incidents of HIV/AIDS infection ratios compared to other African countries. In spite of the low moderate range female adult literacy rates in Mozambique, 27% and Malawi 44.1% (HDR 2000), these countries are also confronted with the devastation of high HIV/AIDS infection ratios. These researchers strongly argue that whether the literacy rate is high, moderate or low, literacy has limited functional applications in Southern Sub-Saharan Africa, and likely not just in this region, but also in many former colonies worldwide. This is attributed to the colonial legacy that deliberately entrenched minority interest for example in South Africa, thereby denying millions of an education or providing inferior education resulting in individuals functioning well below their potential and not being able to contribute to socio, economic and political life(UNESCO, Breda,2002).Historically varying explanations have been offered that include women’s subordinate role in patriarchal societies, their dependence on men for financial support, promiscuity, polygeny, polygamy, sexual networking, low condom use, poverty, ethos, lifestyle issues, poor health status, stigmatisation, denial of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, poor screening techniques of blood products and poorly sterilized medical equipment. However, low literacy and the lack of functional application of literacy appear to be primarily responsible for the HIV/AIDS catastrophe. Since health literacy deals with issues of cause and effect that requires general literacy to be very functional, large segments of the population have been denied education due to their inability to translate education into information that becomes power to them by making literacy real to their own life situation. This requires the acquisition of critical thinking and literacy skills that leads to informed decision making. Therefore, the functionality of health literacy is crucial and a prerequisite for socio-cultural transformation. The use of condoms is viewed as a first line of defence - primary prevention – that these researchers consider to be simultaneous expansions of the individuals’ worldview, but not a change in their behaviours and attitudes. Therefore, this paper argues that the later constitutes secondary prevention and that unless the individual and/or community’s worldview is transformed, any effort to combat HIV/AIDS will be futile. A Ten Points Of Excellence Multi-Sectoral Development Program and Practicum, a distance learning education model (TEPEMUSEDEP) utilizing an interdisciplinary approach is suggested as a strategy towards combating HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa and the global village. //