Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


In spite of numerous HIV/AIDS‐prevention education efforts, the HIV infection rates in Sub‐Saharan Africa remain high. Exploring and understanding the reasons behind these infection rates is imperative in a bid to offer life skills and moral education that address the root causes of the pandemic. In a recent study concerning effective HIV/AIDS‐prevention education, conducted in Tanzania and Kenya among teacher trainees and their tutors, the notion of mila potofu (defined by educators as ‘deceptive’ cultural practices) emerged as a key reason for educators’ difficulties in teaching HIV/AIDS prevention education in schools and for high HIV infection rates. Since these cultural practices cause harm, and in many cases lead to death, they are of moral concern. This paper outlines some of these cultural practices identified by educators, including ‘wife inheritance’, ‘sexual cleansing’ and the taboo against certain foods, and discusses how these practices contribute towards HIV/AIDS vulnerability. It then offers recommendations for classroom‐based life skills and moral education following Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development in understanding how ‘assimilation’, ‘accommodation’ and ‘adaptation’ can help people discard mila potofuin a culturally sensitive manner.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Moral Education