HSRC, MRCSOUTHA AFRICA
Key finding: The overwhelming majority of educators (75%) did not drink alcohol in the past 12 months; 20% are classified as low-risk drinkers; and 5.3% are high-risk drinkers. Male educators (15%) are significantly more high-risk drinkers than female educators (0.7%). Alcohol consumption patterns seem to differ by race: male coloured educators (18%) and male African educators (16%) reported the highest levels of high-risk alcohol use
Alcohol abuse has serious health and social consequences. The study examines alcohol use and its relation to quality of life, as high-risk drinking may influence the health status of educators, which in turn has an impact on the quality of education.
In comparison to low-risk drinkers, high-risk drinkers were ill more often in the month before the survey, and were absent more often from work in 2003. And there is a strong association between alcohol or drug-use before sex, and being HIV positive, particularly among men.
The study finds that 75% of educators did not drink alcohol for at least one year; 20% are classified as low-risk drinkers; and 5.3% are high risk-drinkers according to the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) scores.
Male educators drink much more (150/0) than their female counterparts (0.7%); male coloured (18%) and African (160/0) educators are the highest consumers of alcohol; and whilst white male educators drink less at a time, they drink most frequently (71%). It also seems that the younger the educator, the more likely they are to drink alcohol. The highest levels of high-risk drinking (15.916.4%) are in the male age group of 25A4, compared to the drinking habits of 45-54 year old males (12.5%).
Educators teaching in schools located in urban formal areas (15.5%), and in particular informal urban areas (23.1%), had higher high-risk drinking levels than educators teaching in schools located in non-urban or rural areas (13.7%).
The percentage of high-risk drinkers among male teachers was above 200/a in five provinces
(Northern Cape: 240/a; Free State: 21%; North-West: 21%, Mpumalanga: 210/a, and Gauteng:
200/0), but much lower in the Eastern Cape (80/a) and Kwazulu-Natal (120/a).
The study says it is crucial to examine alcohol use and its relation to quality of life. High-risk drinking may influence the health status of educators, which in turn has an impact on the quality of education. In comparison to their low-risk colleagues, high-risk drinkers were ill more often in the month before the survey, and were absent more often from work in 2003.
The study recommends that the DoE works closely with the unions to develop an alcohol prevention campaign, targeting male educators, to reduce high-risk drinking and white male educators with high levels of low-risk drinking. Such an intervention may entail written information about the risks of drinking.
Depending on the severity of the problem, high-risk drinkers may need simple advice; simple advice plus brief counseling and continued monitoring; and referral to a specialist for diagnostic evaluation and treatment.
The DoE should consider implementing workplace alcohol prevention programmes to include primary prevention - which aims to keep alcohol problems from developing and is more cost effective - and secondary prevention - which seeks to reduce existing problems.