Factors Affecting Education of Children Living with HIV and AIDS: A Case Study of Nyumbani Children’s Home, Nairobi (Kenya)
Odandi, N. Victor
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The role that education plays in the life of an individual human being cannot be gainsaid. There are a number of factors that influence children‘s access to quality education. One such factor today is the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The onset of HIV/AIDS has upstaged various aspects of the education sector. The sector has been adversely affected by this epidemic with the resultant effect that children are losing out on education due to the death of their parents. Some of these children are themselves infected with HIV/AIDS. It is this cadre of children who are infected that this study concentrated on. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the factors that hamper the academic progression of children living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya with a specific reference to Nyumbani Children‘s Home – Nairobi, Kenya. Specific objectives were to: Find out the challenges faced by Nyumbani Children‘s Home in providing education to the children living with HIV/AIDS; establish the innovations adopted by the home to circumvent challenges, find out the effect of the children‘s seropositivity status on their academic performance, investigate how the learners cope with their seropositivity status and establish successful interventions and lessons that can be replicated in similar programs elsewhere. The study design used was survey. Purposive sampling technique was used to select respondents for the study. Only children in upper primary classes were involved in the study plus seven workers. There were 3 types of questionnaires: One type meant only for the children, one for workers and the other for the management. Data obtained were analysed using descriptive statistics. Frequency distribution tables, pie charts and bar graphs were used in the presentation of the results and data were then analysed according to objectives, by percentages. On the gender composition of children infected with HIV/AIDS, 64.3% were male while 35.7% were female. On the gender distribution of caregivers, 43.8% were male while female were 28.6%. However, caregivers‘ gender composition is not representative since 28.6% of the respondents did not indicate their gender. The findings revealed that discrimination on the account of the child‘s seropositive status is one of the major challenges that hinder pupils‘ academic progression. Others cited are the children‘s health status, the government‘s unwillingness to take a proactive stand on the education of HIV positive children, lack of proper food and nutrition, over reliance on donors for funding thus causing donor fatigue which has a resultant negative effect on the education of the children. The findings also reveal that the children‘s awareness of their serostatus affects their performance. However, to mitigate against this, the caregivers offers them psychosocial support through periodic counselling. Also some members of the community come to visit them while others take them out for an outing. This offers them a sense of belonging. The findings of this study were used to make strong recommendations to the relevant authorities on how to improve the education of children living with HIV/AIDS. Among the recommendations made were that a serious HIV/AIDS awareness campaign should be mounted in all public and private schools, both primary and secondary, so as to create sensitization on the rights of HIV positive children.