EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGES OF AIDS ORPHANED CHILDREN AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS IN ABUJA

EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGES OF AIDS ORPHANED CHILDREN AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS IN ABUJA

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CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

1.1. Background of the Study

Nearly two decades ago, a human catastrophic disease, Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) came into being. The first report of AIDS came from the Centers of Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia (a public health body responsible for investigating epidemics and reports of new or unusual disease in United States) which described the cases of 5 young previously healthy homosexuals who had been treated in Los Angeles hospital for a rare infections of the lungs pneumocystic carinii pneumonia (PCP). " At the same time in 1981 came reports of 26 previously healthy homosexuals in New York and California who had developed a severe form of a rare malignant cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma. Eight of these patients died within 24 months of diagnosis …" (Daniels, 1987: 1-2).

The first reported case in the United Kingdom, in December 1981, was a 49 year- old homosexual in Bourne Mouth who presented AIDS nine months after returning from Miami. Since then, every country in the world has reported AIDS cases. UNAIDS has estimated that at the end of 1998, 33.4 million people, in the world were living with HIV/AIDS of which 22.5 million or 67% were in Sub-Sahara Africa. This number however increased to 40 million, by the year 2000, of which 90% were in developing countries. The reported deaths from the onset of the epidemic has reached more than 20 million world wide, including almost 3 million children under the age of 15 (UNAIDS, 2002). Parental death to AIDS has resulted in school dropout, labor exploitation, stigma and discrimination of AIDS orphaned children (Afework, Mebratu 2000). Regarding the number of children orphaned by AIDS, the data is frustrating as

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to UNAIDS report. It says this:

One of the most telling and troubling consequences of the epidemic’s growing reach is the number of children it has orphaned or seriously impacted. Today more than 13 million children currently under age 15 have lost one or both parents to AIDS, most of them in

Sub-Sahara Africa. By 2010, this number is expected to jump to more than 25 million (UNAIDS, 2002: .3)

In Sub-Sahara African countries the infection rate is just in the rise. In addition to death toll, HIV/AIDS is also attributed to poverty. As the death of the most productive section of the population increases due to AIDS, economic deterioration and a decrease in per capita is inevitable. A recent study estimated that Africa's income growth per capita is being reduced by about 0.7 percent per year because of HIV/AIDS. Had the HIV prevalence not reached 8.6 percent in 1999, African's income per capita would have grown at 1.1 percent per year - or nearly three times the growth rate of 0.4 percent per year achieved in 1990-1997 (World Bank, 2000 b in UNAIDS, 2001)

The World Bank report further explained the role of AIDS as a cause of poverty and poverty as a contributor to AIDS. The general linkages between AIDS and poverty would be cited as impact indicators that help to portray the effects of AIDS on poverty .Such effects include decrease in growth rate of per capita income, increase in the number of AIDS orphans ,and their corresponding poorer nutrition and lowered school attendance rates, reduction in output and cash income in house holds of an AIDS death, and increases in household out -of-pocket health spendings (UNAIDS, 2001)

The impacts of HIV/AIDS on the education of orphans have been studied in various countries of Africa. Studies in Uganda have shown that following the death of one or both parents, the chance of orphans going to school is halved and those who go to school spend less time there than they did formerly. In another study of high prevalence countries like Central Africa Republic, Cote d'Ivoire and Zambia, AIDS is eroding the supply of teachers,there by


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increasing class sizes, which in turn is likely to reduce the quality of education.

The negative outcomes of HIV/AIDS to education have been seen from pupil, teacher, and school perspectives.

At the level of the pupil, there have been declines in enrollment, increases in dropouts, and gradual increases in absenteeism. Students who had lost both parents have been less well-dressed and less-well fed. Many students are at risk of exclusion, abuse, discrimination, and stigma (IIEP, 1993; UNAIDS, 2002). UNICEF has recently reviewed the effects being orphan have on schooling and child labor in 20 Sub-Saharan African countries. In all countries, children aged 5-14 who had lost one or both parents were found less likely to be in school and more likely to be working more than 40 hours a week. A National Survey on the Prevalence and Situations of AIDS Orphaned Children in NIGERIA has been conducted in collaboration with children, youth and Family Affairs Department (MOLSA), UNICEF, and an Italian Co-operation (2003), using a total sample size of 2683 children and adults. The income generating activities of both AIDS orphan and non-AIDS orphan children were studied. The data showed that 16% and 21%, respectively were engaged in various economic activities. The finding seem to be contrary to one's expectations, but due to other supportive data like weak provision of food, high prevalence of begging, and stigma against AIDS orphans, it is highly probable that community members prefer to employ non- AIDS orphans compared to AIDS orphans.

In the same study the educational status of AIDS orphans had been examined and subsequent analyses revealed that 93% of both AIDS orphans and non-AIDS orphans were enrolled in elementary schools once upon a time. But after the death of their mothers or both parents a significant number of them were forced to dropout of school. As the results of the study indicated, 17.7% of non-AIDS orphans dropped out of school compared to 11.9% of AIDS orphans following the death of mother's. No statistically significant difference was


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observed between the two groups .However, the reasons seem to be to their inability to pay school fees and, buy school uniforms and materials.

A survey of 649 orphaned and 1,239 non-orphaned children in Kenya found out that 52% of orphaned and 27% non-orphaned children were not in school for such reasons(UNAIDS, 2002). Generally, from the above studies one can conclude that the

education of AIDS orphaned children is highly threatened, and there is a need of finding a way out to mitigate the problems.

Teachers' death from HIV/AIDS has resulted in the deterioration of the provision of quality education to both orphans and non-orphaned children. While many countries lack reliable data on AIDS-related deaths and HIV prevalence among teachers, already available evidence points to an increased teacher mortality rate because of HIV/AIDS. The death of one teacher can deprive a whole class of children from having education. As estimated 860,000 children in Sub-Sahara Africa have lost their teachers to AIDS in 1999 (Kelly, 2000d, in World Bank, 2002).

As some studies in some African countries revealed, HIV/AIDS has escalated the shortage of teachers' supply in schools. A report of the World Bank (2002),for example, has stated that in Central Africa Republic 85 percent of the teachers who died between 1996 and 1998 were HIV positive, and on the average these teachers died 10 years before they were to retire (UNAIDS, 2000a). In Zambia 1,300 teachers died in the first 10 months of 1998, compared to 680 teachers in 1996 (Kelly, 1999). In Kenya teachers' deaths rose from 450 in 1995 to 1,500 in 1999.In one of Kenya's eight provinces 20 to 30 teachers die each month from AIDS (Gachuhi, 1999).Besides, HIV/AIDS, has generally resulted in teachers' absenteeism, and lowered motivation to teach when they feel sick. It has also increased the proportion of untrained teachers, and led to their reluctance to be transferred to, or remain in, heavily affected districts.


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At school level strain and stress have been reported because of the increasing number of orphans. The distress and isolation experienced by these children, both before and after the death of their parent or parents, have strongly been exacerbated by the shame, fear and rejection that often surrounds people affected by HIV/AIDS. Because of this stigma and the often -irrational fear surrounding them, children are denied access to schooling and health care (UNICEF, 1999).

In the Convention on the Rights of the Child, education for the child especially at primary level is considered compulsory and freely available to all. Article 32:1 says that

state parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development (1992:47)

This article highlights the all round support a child should receive from the society. Similarly as was stated in the Salamanca Conference, children who are AIDS orphaned

are included in special needs category. The Conference passed resolutions that community-based rehabilitation (CBR), Education for All and inclusive educations have all common roots, and children labeled in special needs group should secure access to basic human rights whether in education or health (Salamanca Conference, 1994).

NIGERIA is one of the Sub-Sahara African countries that are heavily affected by HIV/AIDS pandemic. Death from HIV/AIDS has been increasing since the start of the epidemic in the early 1980s. The number of AIDS orphans is still increasing at alarming rate. Due to the pressing needs of educating AIDS orphans, government, non-governmental organizations, and the community at large need to join hands so that timely solution (s) can be sought.

1.2 Objectives of the Study

The experiences of other countries have shown us AIDS orphan children are by and large


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out of school. Ensuring that orphan children receive education presents one of the greatest challenges to governments, nongovernmental organizations, donor agencies, and local communities. Achieving Education for All is held as one of the Millennium Development Goals. Efforts to achieve universal access to education are almost always based on the education sector and encompass all formal, non -formal, informal, and popular education.

Some countries have devised strategies to educate AIDS orphans. For example, to increase access to the formal system, Malawi and Uganda have eliminated primary school enrollment fees (for up to four children per household). In Zambia there is a still levies fee, but orphans are eligible for a subsidy. Some countries have community schools, established by local communities -often with NGO support, to benefit the non- formal sector. Neither fees nor uniforms are required; timing of teaching can be adjusted to local needs. Distance learning using media such as radio is an option increasingly used for educating out-of-school children and youth. Distance education for primary school children has been used in a mentored group setting in eight countries and has reached a national scale in three countries (World Bank, 2002).

This study is, therefore, intended to investigate issues related to the education of AIDS orphan children with focus on:

-          educational problems of AIDS  orphan children

-          Possible educational approach ( es ) to AIDS orphans. More specifically the study is intended to investigate

-          the living conditions of AIDS orphaned children

-          the academic status (achievement level) of AIDS orphans as compared to pre-parental death.

-          School attendance or dropout rate of AIDS orphans.

-          the educational efforts AIDS orphan children make to be successful in school


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-          the needs, values and motivations of AIDS orphan children to learn

-          the deficits AIDS orphans have and the solutions being undertaken.

1.3. Statement of the problem

Among other things one of the worst impacts of AIDS to young adults is an increase in the number of orphans. Some children lose their father or mother to AIDS and many more lose both parents. In NIGERIA there were an estimated 980,000 AIDS orphans by 2002 and this number could increase to 2.1 million by 2014 (MOH 2000). Though the data reported at different times are inconsistent, the MOH (2002) report of AIDS orphaned children shows an increase in number. In 2002 there were 1.2 million AIDS orphans and this number would increase to 1.8 by 2007 and 2.5 million by 2014. On the other hand , the latest estimates of UNAIDS (2002) have pointed out that 3.8 million orphaned children existed in NIGERIA by 2002. Of these, almost 1 million children are AIDS orphans. (i.e. 26% of the total orphan populations). By 2010, about 2.16 million children will be AIDS orphans, representing 43% of the 5 million estimated orphans. In a survey conducted in NIGERIA on the prevalence of AIDS orphaned children, sampled children and adults were drawn from major cities, small towns and rural areas. The prevalence rate of AIDS orphans were 14.69% in major cities, 16.67% in small towns, and 14.77% in rural areas. At alpha 0.05 ,there is no significant difference across the three strata implying that HIV infection is increasing the rate of AIDS orphans similarly in all the three sites (MOLSA, UNICEF, and Italian cooperation, 2003).This is a very big and shocking number, compared to the country's economic growth. For a country like NIGERIA, providing adequate food, clothing, health care and schooling for this huge number of AIDS orphans is almost impossible.

The study has been carried out in ABUJA. Therefore, we looked into the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans in the city. The HIV prevalence in ABUJA has increased from about 17 percent of the adult population in 1997 to 20 percent by


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2001 and has stabilsed at that level since then. A recent report of MOH shows the HIV/AIDS prevalence rates of some urban areas in which Bahir Dar stands first with 23.4 percent, followed by Jijiga 19 percent and Nazerath third with 18.7 percent. The prevalence rate for ABUJA in this report is 15.6 percent (MOH, 2002), which is different from the former report (HIV/AIDS in A.A., 1999). By 1999, the cumulative number of AIDS deaths from the beginning of the epidemic were estimated at about 53,000. Over the coming 15 years, 1999-2014, an additional 554,000 persons in ABUJA are likely to die from the disease, which could result in a cumulative total of about 697,000 deaths by 2014 (HIV/AIDS in ABUJA, 1999)

Like wise ,the number of AIDS orphans would rise quickly from 20,000 in 1999 to over 64,000 in 2004 and to more than 145,000 in 2014 (HIV/AIDS in ABUJA 1999).This makes it very hard to care for and provide them with necessary facilities. As a result the number of street children will rise and child labor will become more common as orphans look for ways of survival. Orphans often lose the necessary financial, material and emotional support that they need for successful schooling.

Based on the report presented above, currently more than 20,000 AIDS orphans exist in ABUJA. Except for mere prediction, no one can say for sure how many of them are in school and how many out of it. which ones are living with whom, and what kind of support which of them receive from where.

The Federal Democratic Republic of NIGERIA developed an HIV/AIDS policy. Under the general strategies, the Ministry of Health has been delegated to provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Education in the curriculum development & implementation of HIV/AIDS / STDS education beginning from the primary level, including the youth out of school in rural and urban areas. Again in the strategic Framework for the National Response to HIV/AIDS in NIGERIA 2000-2004, the objectives of the Education Sector Development Program (ESDP) are


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stated. Among the objectives, one is increasing the enrollment ratio from current 35% to 50%. In the strategies for achieving this objective, promoting the girl child education and supporting orphan education are mentioned. In order to realize the objectives set in ESDP, the Ministry of Education has developed HIV/AIDS Education program in which it has put a detailed work plan for the years 2002 -2003. The document narrates how and when HIV/AIDS education are to be integrated in the curriculum and co-curricular activities. The overall objectives set for HIV/AIDS education program by the MOE are as follows:

•       to contribute to the National effort to prevent  HIV/AIDS

•       to promote behavioral change that prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS

•       to develop knowledge & understanding of HIV/AIDS among students & the staff of

MOE

•      


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