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Look after yourself : an analysis of life skills for preventing HIV/AIDS in sport for development and peace curriculum material Forde, Shawn Douglas


HIV/AIDS education and prevention are often described as one way that sport for development and peace (SDP) organizations can contribute to international development through teaching life skills and empowering individuals. However, there has been no critical analysis of how discourses drawn upon within SDP curriculum material construct and legitimize particular conceptions of life skills, representations of SDP participants, and strategies used to teach life skills. The purpose of this study was to conduct a critical discourse analysis of the curriculum manual entitled Live Safe Play Safe (LSPS) that Right to Play (RTP), a large international SDP organization, uses to train facilitators for its HIV/AIDS prevention program. Postcolonial theory and critical and decolonial pedagogy provided a theoretical framework to guide the critical discourse analysis. The findings show that discourses of risk, individualism and deficiency were drawn upon to frame health as a possession of individuals and HIV/AIDS as a threat to individuals’ bodies. Thereby justifying and constructing life skills as attributes that individuals needed to learn in order to protect their health and express their self-interests. These discourses largely emphasized individual responsibility and the management of risk, as opposed to the broader social and political constraints that individuals face. Identities of LSPS participants, particularly girls, were largely constituted through discourses of deficiency that represented them as being passive yet holding the potential to be empowered by learning life skills. Aspects of the manual drew from critical pedagogy; however, the overall approach to teaching life skills was rooted in discourses of deficiency and individualism that underpinned pedagogical strategies focusing on building self-interested and responsible individuals, while neglecting strategies that would engage communities in broader processes of social change. Suggestions for challenging the dominant discourses that structure SDP and decolonizing curriculum is provided in the conclusion.

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