In 2004, Hope Educational Foundation developed its first program/curriculum, iMatter, at the request and with the support of local partners in Swaziland and the Ministry of Education. iMatter, based on research results of the most effective HIV and AIDS prevention strategies and key drivers of HIV and AIDS in Swaziland, was developed to address the threat of HIV and AIDS to children and youth in sub-Saharan Africa. Swaziland currently has the highest adult HIV prevalence rate in the world – 26%, and while there is some evidence of infection rates slowing, more than 42 percent of women attending antenatal clinics are HIV positive.
Through strong government and community support, educators and curriculum specialists from Swaziland and the U.S. began development of the iMatter curriculum in 2005, deploying a field test in 2006 and rolling out the curriculum in Swaziland in 2007. That first year, iMatter was used in 37 schools with over 24,000 learners. This 10 lesson, age-appropriate HIV AND AIDS prevention material focuses on HIV and AIDS prevention by targeting the underlying causes of the epidemic which had been identified through field research and include: lack of self-worth, diminished value of individual life, failure to consider consequences, failure to plan for the future, and the importance of making good choices at each stage of development. Other drivers of HIV and ADIS included cross-generational sex, sexual abuse and lack of HIV and AIDS prevention knowledge. According to Dr. Banu Khan, head of the National AIDS Co-coordinating Agency in Botswana, countries such as Swaziland and Botswana have the potential to become the first human nations to face extinction. For further reading on this devastating crisis please see our research paper: Responsible Design for Social Change.
In partnership with Teen Challenge Ministries in Swaziland and Hope Education Swaziland, iMatter has reached 46,000 primary school age children through volunteer teachers from local communities presenting the iMatter curriculum in local schools.
A comprehensive survey of 933 primary learners in Swaziland confirmed that iMatter was effective in teaching children about HIV risk factors. The survey also showed significant increases in expressions of self-worth after receiving the lessons. iMatter learners also demonstrated an increased knowledge of HIV AND AIDS, a better understanding of their choices today affecting their future, and the importance of making healthy choices. Today the iMatter Swaziland program has been completely phased out and handed over to local entities where it has been adapted and altered accordingly to fit specific communities.