THE PERCEPTIONS OF STUDENTS IN AN OPEN DISTANCE LEARNING (ODL) INSTITUTION ON LIFE SKILLS AS AN HIV AND AIDS PREVENTION STRATEGY
AbstractMost people, including university students, are faced with the challenge of preventing infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). There is a need to ensure that students, future graduates and the future workforce enter the workforce as health-conscious citizens. This descriptive, explorative, qualitative study was conducted among students of the University of South Africa (Unisa), and it explored the students’ perceptions of developing life skills as an HIV and AIDS prevention strategy. Focus group discussions were used as a means of data collection. The data collected were subjected to content analysis. The perception of the students showed that life skills may play a crucial role in the prevention of HIV and AIDS. The study revealed that learning about life skills is absent from the students’ curriculum, and students want it to be included in their education. Some recommendations were made: the inclusion of HIV and AIDS education in the students’ curricula and qualification; student support services should provide services that go beyond the provision of medication and condoms to include counselling services for students on mental health, behaviour and general health; compulsory life skills workshops and educational sessions should be made available to students at the beginning of registration cycles; and topics for the life skills workshops should encompass aspects that are related to HIV and AIDS as well as those that are not HIV- and AIDS-related.
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