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

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Kelly, M.J
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University of Zambia
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 corflmunities, 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 mfection: by providing knowledge that wiU inform self-protection; fostering the development of a personally held, constructive value system; mculcatmg skills that wiU facihtate self-protection; promoting behavioiu- that will lower infection risks; and enhancmg capacity to help others to protect themselves against risk; 2. when infection has occurred: by strengthening the abihty to cop^ with personal and/or family infection; promoting care for those who are infected; helpmg 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, io 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 conditibns that render the transmission of HIV/AIDS less likely—conditions such as poverty reduction, personal empowerment, gender equity. It also reduces vuhierabiUty to a variety of factors, such as streetism, prostitution, or the dependence of women on men, which are a breeding groimd for HIV infection. In order to reaUse 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. mtegrate 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 wath oneself and with others; 4. manifest an in^roved 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 mclude more attention to counselling and care for its members, and to promoting care and compassion for people with fflV/AIDS, Attending to these things impUes that school m the fixture can no longer be school as traditionally known, that school in an AIDS-infected world cannot be the same as school in an AIDS-lree world. The seriousness of the situation in Sub-Saharan Afiica 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 coimtry's national education agenda.
Paper presentation to the All Sub-Saharan Africa Conference on Education For All - 2000
HIV/AIDS , Education