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Educating through TV

By Alexa Gordon

In Durban, South Africa, Keyan Tomaselli is the leading expert on entertainment education. His goal has been to utilize entertainment technology to educate the people of South Africa about the prevention of HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.

On Thursday, Nov. 7, Tomaselli visited the College to speak about his work in South Africa with a presentation, “Fighting AIDS and Gender-Based Violence in South Africa: The Success of Entertainment Education.”

Tomaselli founded and has been director of the Centre for Communication, Media, and Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa since 1985.

Tomaselli discussed the overall use of public health communications in relation to South African culture.

He said that due to the patriarchic nature of African culture in general and the lack of modern technology throughout the continent, the HIV/AIDS battle has been a nearly impossible one to beat — nearly.

Through using entertainment education, Tomaselli has been successfully educating the people of South Africa over the past 30 years about not only prevention of HIV/AIDS, but also the prevention of gender-based violence and the promotion of responsible partnering.

Tomaselli said that the use of this new kind of education is extremely crucial to the people of South Africa due to the continuously increasing HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“His ability to inform and educate so many people in ways that have never been done before is extremely innovative,” senior history major John Preuss said of Tomaselli.

He also talked about how prior to his is work with entertainment education in the mid-’90s, the only education that the 44 million people affected by HIV/AIDS were receiving was through pamphlets created by mass media HIV/AIDS awareness programs. These pamphlets often miscommunicated a message due to culture and educational gaps between the designers of the pamphlets and their target audience.

Tomaselli said these materials “must appeal to people who are not hyper-literate,” something that previous campaigns were not doing.

Currently, Tomaselli is continuing his efforts with entertainment education by means of writing papers, books and talking to students at various colleges and universities in both the United States and Europe. He also teaches at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, where he is the chair of culture of Communication and Media Studies.

“Seeing how Keyan Tomaselli has done all he can to help the people of South Africa through modern technology is truly inspiring,” sophomore criminology major Julianna Mike-Mayer said.


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