Children as health educators : the child-to-child approach
This study explores the Child-to-Child approach to health education. Child-to-Child claims that children can be effective promoters of health. The thesis provides an analysis and criticism of Child-to-Child, comparing theory with practice in the Little Teacher Programme in Botswana. It examines how Child-to-Child has sought to keep abreast of new thinking and to respond to experience and considers the extent to which its ideas have been implemented. It explores whether primary school children can be effective health educators and seeks to identify factors enabling or inhibiting their effectiveness. Research questions are focused in three main areas. First, what is meant by the Child-to-Child approach to health education? What does Child-to- Child mean theoretically? To what extent has current thinking departed from the original conceptualization of the approach? What does Child-to-Child mean to the practitioners of the Little Teacher Programme in Botswana and how successfully have they applied its ideas and methods? Second, how effective can children be as health educators using the Child-to-Child approach? A field study of the Little Teacher Programme is included to test the hypothesis that child educators can raise the knowledge level of preschool children and that performing their role can increase their own knowledge level. An extension of the main field study addresses a further question, what is the influence of the poor urban environment and of ethnicity on the effectiveness of children as health educators? Third, how can children be effective health educators and what factors enable or impede their effectiveness? The study considers how social, cultural and environmental factors may influence health behaviours. The study concludes that children can be effective health educators at the level of knowledge change but raises serious questions about the failure of Child-to-Child to take account of traditional resistance to some of its central ideas.