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HIV/AIDS is conceptualised as having the potential to affect education
through ten different mechanisms: reduction in demand, reduction in supply, reduction in availability of resources, adjustments in response to the special needs of a rapidly increasing number of orphans, adaptation to new interactions both within schools and between schools and communities,
curriculum modification, altered roles that have to be adopted by teachers and the education system, the ways in which schools and the education system are organised, the planning and management of the system, and donor support for education.

Nevertheless, in
the face of the epidemic, education can generate hope because of its potential to work at the three levels where AIDS-related interventions are needed:

1. while there is as yet no infection: by providing knowledge that will inform self-protection; fostering the development of a personally held, constructive value system; inculcating skills that will facilitate self-protection; promoting behaviour that will
lower infection risks; and enhancing capacity to help others to protect themselves against risk;

2. when infection has occurred: by strengthening the ability to cope with personal and/or family infection; promoting care for those who are infected;
helping young people stand up for the human rights that are threatened by their personal or family HIV/AIDS condition; and reducing stigma, silence, shame, discrimination;

3. when AIDS has brought death: by help in coping with grief and loss, in the
reorganisation of life after the death of family members, and in the assertion of personal rights

In the longer term, and more generically, education plays a key role in establishing conditions that render the transmission of HIV/AIDS less likely—conditions such as poverty reduction, personal empowerment, gender equity. It also reduces vulnerability to a
variety of factors, such as streetism, prostitution, or the dependence of women on men, which are a breeding ground for HIV infection.

In order to realise its potential in these areas, the formal education system must

1. do better what it is supposed to be doing in terms of access and real learning achievement;

2. integrate sexual health and HIV/AIDS education into the curriculum for all educational levels;

3. ensure that every school member is adequately equipped with the relevant life skills, and that adequate learning takes place in the fourth ‘R’, that is, relationships with oneself and with others;

4. manifest an improved
human rights profile—in terms of its own procedures and actions and in terms of the curriculum;

5. extend its mission beyond the strictly academic to include more attention to counselling and care for its members, and to promoting care and compassion
for people with HIV/AIDS.

Attending to these things implies that school in the future can no longer be school as traditionally known, that school in an AIDS-infected world cannot be the same as school in an AIDS-free world. The seriousness of the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa calls for
the schools to be declared in a state of emergency because of AIDS, requiring emergency-type efforts, emergency-type responses. It calls for the HIV/AIDS crisis to be placed at the centre of each severely affected country’s national education agenda.

What HIV/AIDS Can Do to Education, and What Education Can Do to HIV/AIDS


The spread of HIV/AIDS in many of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa has greatly
exceeded the most pessimistic projections of a few years ago. At the end of 1998, 22.5 million people in our countries, including one million children, were living with HIV/AIDS (World Bank, 1999). If the 1998 infection rate repeated itself in 1999, the total number of people in Africa living
with HIV/AIDS could now be close to 27 million. Across our countries, AIDS is taking a devastating toll in human suffering and death. It is disrupting social systems, exacerbating poverty, reducing productivity, wiping out hard-won human capacity, and reversing development gains. Notwithstanding
the catastrophic effects that are already being experienced, the full consequences of the pandemic are still to be felt. The storm has been gathering for almost two decades. In many of our countries, it has yet to break with full force.

Some insight into what
this apocalyptic scenario means for a social sector can be gleaned from an examination of the potential multiple effects of HIV/AIDS on education, with special attention to the formal school system. But equally, we can gain the insight that through education there is hope of stemming the
apparently inexorable advance of the epidemic and of coping with its casualties. This paper sets out to examine these two aspects, what HIV/AIDS can do to education and what education can do to HIV/AIDS.

The Impact HIV/AIDS Can Make on

Analytic Framework

When a person is infected with HIV, the immune system breaks down, leaving the individual exposed to the hazards of a multitude of opportunistic illnesses. In the absence of preventive
measures, the education system in a country that is as seriously HIV-infected as many of those in Sub-Saharan Africa is also in danger of breaking down and being prey to myriad opportunistic problems. Our first task is to present an analytic framework, with a limited number of examples from
Zambia, that will help us grasp the multitudinous potential impacts of HIV/AIDS on the education system of a severely affected country. It is only when civil and public society come to grips with the fact that these are real possibilities, indeed that many are already wreaking havoc, that
appropriate action will be taken to control the situation.

Essentially, HIV/AIDS can be conceptualised as affecting education through ten different mechanisms (Box 1). Each of these is developed briefly and is accompanied by an illustrative example or
experience from Zambia.

Responding to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa

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