Nature of the Issue:
are two important aspects to understand -
can have an enormous impact on education in the most HIV/AIDS
(ii) At the
same time, education can have an enormous impact on HIV/AIDS prevention,
care and support, especially when supported by other strategies
and other sectors
HIV/AIDS Education and Lifeskills
The impact of HIV/AIDS on education
has had an impact on the education sector primarily by
demand for education,
the supply and quality of education, and
management of education systems.
Chikanga, a health worker from the small health clinic in Nyakomba,
Zimbabwe, teaches students at the local Chatindo Primary School
about HIV infection and AIDS
Impact on demand
the epidemic began, 3.8 million children have already been
infected with HIV, and over two-thirds have died, and the
epidemic has already reversed gains in infant and child mortality
rates and overall life expectancy in the worst affected areas.
HIV/AIDS incidence has increased, the most affected areas
are beginning to witness a decrease in the overall demand
for education in terms of basic education enrolment rates,
vocational and adult education, and tertiary education facilities.
has increased and access has been limited or denied to many
young people due to additional HIV/AIDS-related demands; e.g.
coping with personal illness, caring for family members, trauma
related to illness and death in the family, discrimination
and stigma, reduced family income and income-generating needs,
and/or declining financial support from parents. A high percentage
of these drop-outs will likely be orphans, street kids and
working youth with very limited resources and few clear incentives
for entering the education system.
For marginalised young people such as girls, orphans, street
kids, out-of-school youth and working youth, the impact of
HIV/AIDS is exacerbated.
HIV/AIDS can reverse achievements in gender equality in education
– girls tend to bear a greater burden in terms of care-taking
responsibilities, in addition to domestic chores and the tradition
favouring education towards boys. Moreover, infection rates
among girls as young as 13 have risen, thereby reducing their
likelihood of benefiting from, or completing, their basic
education. Pessimism about the value of education can emerge
where public confidence in the quality of education is low
and the strain of poverty favours income generating skills
over schooling, especially as HIV/AIDS adds to the economic
burden of families providing for orphans from other relatives,
or of child-headed households.
Impact on supply and quality
has caused greater inconsistency in the supply of quality educational
services where teachers are in poor health, caring for others,
or not well trained. Irregular teacher attendance, and the depletion
of trained teachers directly related to HIV/AIDS, have been a
source of great aggravation to already struggling education systems.
quality of education decreases in terms of both teaching processes
and content, where trained teachers are in short supply
epidemic has highlighted inadequacies in curricula which are not
designed in content or delivery to address the many sensitive
issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. Consequently, the introduction of
essential life skills critical for students to handle HIV risk
contexts has often been inhibited, and in some cases prohibited.
HIV/AIDS has appeared in curricula, it has tended to be inadequately
addressed with an over-emphasis on information and a marked under-emphasis
on attitudes, values, and skills, particularly those related to
human sexuality and social norms, including gender issues.
general, AIDS has not been factored into educational planning.
In some cases existing policies and practices reinforce discrimination,
neglect human rights and personal safety, and fail to improve
poor working and learning conditions. In some cases human resource
management policies and practices may undermine the health or
welfare of staff, especially those related to recruitment, training,
and compensation, which may overlook factors such as the need
to be close to family or medical services.
The emergence of HIV/AIDS has diminished the value of long-term
sectoral planning, and existing management practices and budgets
have struggled to cope with the additional demands imposed by
HIV/AIDS due to high turnover and diminished capacity of staff.
The impact of education on HIV/AIDS
programmes work with young people, especially where they are reinforced
and supported by other strategies and other sectors.
Well implemented programmes can not only delay the start of sexual
activity but also reduce the number of sexual partners and raise
contraceptive use among those who become sexually active.
exceptions exist, HIV/AIDS-specific education has been disappointing
in developing countries due to a lack of comprehensive strategies,
including: an over-emphasis on information and a lack of skills
based education linking knowledge, attitudes, values and psycho-social
skills; a lack of teacher training and ongoing support; and inadequate
policy and structures to support consistent and high quality coverage.
UNICEF Policy: To promote effective HIV/AIDS prevention through
and young people are a priority for HIV/AIDS prevention. The majority
of this group is HIV-free.
prevention needs to be a component of all quality education programmes.
needs to be addressed within the context of other issues relevant
to children and young people, such as human rights, discrimination,
healthy lifestyle, relationships, reproduction and other sexually
programmes need to focus on ‘prevention’ and need to be skills-based
- with a balance of life skills, attitudes and values, and information
- which is age-appropriate and relevant to children and young
and learning about HIV/AIDS prevention needs to be highly interactive
with broad participation of young people, teachers, and surrounding
prevention programmes work best where they are supported by other
strategies - such as policies and health services - and reinforced
by other sectors.
strategies for reaching the many children and young people not
attending school regularly must be a priority within education
systems, and across sectors.
UNICEF is working across agencies to maximise progress on preventing
HIV/AIDS and reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS, especially through
the strengths UNICEF has in education.
for All Increasing school attendance and completion must
be a priority to increase the number of students benefiting from
school-based HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
Friendly Schools All environments for children need to
be ‘friendly’ – inclusive, effective, healthy and protective, and
gender-sensitive. Encouraging UNICEF country programmes to adopt
a wide-ranging approach to school improvement processes, which is
inclusive of the needs of those affected by HIV/AIDS, will contribute
to a rights-based, child-friendly school, and ultimately more effective
teaching and learning.
Focusing Resources for Effective School
Health: A ‘FRESH’ Start Strengthening School Health programmes
will provide a strong foundation for HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.
The FRESH approach focuses on prevention through skills-based HIV/AIDS
prevention education, supportive policies, and related health services.
HIV/AIDS education Supporting the improvement in quality
of teaching and learning processes through more widespread training
and implementation of skills-based approaches will enhance the effectiveness
of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. Adequate training and ongoing
support of teachers and other facilitators, as well as the improvement
of teaching and learning materials will be required to maximise
School based HIV/AIDS and life skills lessons conducted across
Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Caribbean, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam.
that young people in Senegal, Zambia, Thailand, and Uganda show
increasing HIV/AIDS knowledge, more positive attitudes and some
behavioural change and risk reduction.
National curriculum reform in South Africa including addressing
teacher HIV/AIDS risk, as well as teacher training and support
increase quality and coverage of skills-based HIV/AIDS prevention
programmes in and out of school to achieve national scale – including
improving the way that HIV/AIDS is handled within curriculum,
and especially through the training and support of teachers and
intersectoral collaboration to reinforce and supplement the reach
and quality of education strategies.
Increase multi-strategy support to education programs, especially
through intersectoral action, such as through the use of concurrent
media strategies and policy support.
evaluation and monitoring in quality and quantity of programme
evaluations, and disseminate findings widely.