"Opening locked doors": evaluating peer education in schools in the Western Cape province: a mixed methods longitudinal study
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Peer education has long been seen as a key health promotion strategy and important mechanism to challenge and shift youth behavioural norms, especially for those issues not easily discussed between adults and youth. Deutsch and Swartz, (2002, p. 37) have described how peer education achieves this though providing a safe place for candid and genuine examination of attitudes, choices, and situations. Over many years of programme implementation, globally and in South Africa, empirical evidence regarding its efficacy has been difficult to obtain. At best peer education programmes have been shown to aid peer educators in a number of important ways but evidence for change in those who take part as peer learners has been elusive. This report provides an evaluation of a peer education intervention funded1 by The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (The Global Fund), and implemented by the Western Cape Department of Health and Western Cape Department of Basic Education in collaboration with various NGOs (known as implementing organisations) along with technical assistance and monitoring provided by the Centre for the Support of Peer Education (CSPE). Fundamentally the study asked what doors do peer education open that are not usually opened in the course of teacher-led educational interventions. This study answers this question by showing how this
peer education programme in particular has opened doors regarding increased levels of knowledge and discussion amongst youth, improved measures of self-efficacy regarding sexual decision making and heightened sensitivities amongst young people regarding their need for help and support.