HIV & AIDS in Schools
The Political Economy of Pressure
Groups & Miseducation

By Barrie Craven, Pauline Dixon,
Gordon Stewart & James Tooley
December 2001
Institute of Economic Affairs
ISBN: 0-255-36522-5
99 pages
$24.50 paper original

HIV and Aids teaching is compulsory in British Schools but the content is not prescribed. Should teaching in such a difficult field, where there are disputes among experts, be left to secondary school teachers with no specialist knowledge? And is it right that the subject should be compulsory?

These awkward issues are confronted in this controversial paper which examines the materials being used by schools in HIV/AIDS teaching and how teachers are approaching the subject. The authors conclude that, because material provided by pressure groups, teachers are exaggerating the Aids problem and failing to stress the extent to which the risk of infection depends on behaviour. Rent-seeking by vested interests results in a serious distortion of the views presented to children.

The authors consider the extent of the Aids problem in Africa, as well as in Britain, pointing out anomalies in the data which lead to doubts about the conventional wisdom. Their conclusion about Britain is that HIV/AIDS teaching should no longer be compulsory. Either the law should be repealed or schools should simply drop the subject.

Education; Politics
Occasional Paper, No. 121

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