AIDS and other STDs are threatening families and communities throughout the world. Without the resources to adequately combat the AIDS crisis, countries like Cameroon are in dire need of assisstance in the form of accurate AIDS information. Prevention through education is the only viable solution. Unfortunately, the Cameroonian school system, with problems of its own, has not been able to fully satisfy this need. The "Teach English, Prevent AIDS" (TEPA) program (a creation of the U.S. Peace Corps) is now in place in many secondary schools throughout the country. The aim is to teach English and AIDS prevention simultaneously.

TEPA was created and is based on completely different educational philosophies and methodologies than the traditional Cameroonian school system. It also imparts ideas and concepts completely foreign to the Cameroonian culture, namely the rights and roles of women.

The program has been in place since 1992 without ever having been evaluated. The questions which now present themselves are: Is it working? What is the impact? How have knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and practices changed as a result of this program?

A quasi-experiential evaluation was held using intervention and control schools in two rural and two urban settings in the West province of Cameroon. A study was undertaken at the beginning and again at the end of the school year 1995-1996 in order to determine its effectiveness. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected using questionnaires, focus group discussions, observation, and interviews.

In certain areas positive growth of AIDS awareness, behavior change, and deterring practices were easy to determine, yet changes in the ultimate decrease in HIV infection will not be apparent for some time. It was learned that perhaps a most striking difference between students who participated in the program versus those who did not was an increase in self-confidence and other personal attributes which aid tremendously in the ability of secondary students to make mature and responsible decisions regarding their sexual practices.

This information is intended to provide a basis and offer suggestions in the future development of TEPA and/or the construction of further educational programs.


International Public Health