The MASILINGANE project (named by the participating teachers themselves) originated from an HIV leadership initiative of the University of Columbia and the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). As a fellow on this MACAIDS funded project, my brief was to design and implement an HIV prevention programme with a gender focus. To this end, I designed a series of ten workshops.

Workshops 1-5:

The first five were focused on raising awareness around the link between HIV and gender; the teachers interrogating their own “habitus” (Bourdieu, 1977) around gender and how this might influence both their teaching and their leadership potential as ‘gender activists’.

Workshops 6-10:

The second five were aimed at supporting the teachers to identify a point of intervention in their schools, to decide on and implement action designed to improve the situation and to evaluate its success, as well as to consider how their learning could be integrated into their future teaching practices.

Masilingane participants

The gender-related topics they chose to address tell us what challenges education in the Nelson Mandela Metropole is facing at the current time:

  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Bullying and aggressive behaviour by boys
  • Peer norms of sexual activity as part of dating relationships
  • Abuse of drugs/alcohol
  • Violation of the rights of children, especially girls

Although these reports paint a grim picture of the reality faced by our teachers on a daily basis, more importantly, they also show us that there is HOPE and that teachers can make a difference.

Participating teachers in the project were expected to contribute to a 'research poster' as well as present their findings at a symposium.

Contact information
Prof Lesley Wood
Nelson Mandela University Research Associate
Tel: +27 18 299 4770 (mobile: +27 082 296 9202)