Effect of HIV/AIDS on children's attitudes toward learning: voices of teachers and caregivers in Western Kenya

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Date: May-June 2014
From: Childhood Education(Vol. 90, Issue 3)
Publisher: Association for Childhood Education International
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,150 words
Lexile Measure: 1180L

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The well-being of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS is often significantly compromised, as they are prone to discrimination, victimization, and exclusion from social and familial structures. The present study examines the effect of HIV/AIDS on children's attitudes toward learning, as perceived by teachers and caregivers. Teachers and caregivers from seven orphanage schools in Western Kenya participated in the study. The findings indicate how children orphaned as a result of AIDS arrive at orphanages with low expectations, lack of motivation, and poor attitudes toward learning, and how they benefit from a positive and supportive environment. The study contributes to the literature on children's physical, emotional, psychological, social, and academic experiences worldwide by adding to knowledge on the educational needs of children in difficult circumstances.

HIV/AIDS, an ongoing crisis of the new millennium, has a profound effect on human life around the world, and is particularly devastating for children. In addition to the loss of life, loved ones, and security, HIV / AIDS also has an effect on children's attitudes toward learning. This study examines that effect, as perceived by teachers and caregivers. Twelve teachers and eight caregivers in seven orphanage schools in Western Kenya participated in the study. Data were collected over three months using participant observation and interviews.

Findings from the study showed that many children arrived at the orphanages with low academic expectations, lack of motivation, and a poor attitude toward learning. For many children, the experience of watching their parents die of AIDS was quite traumatic, causing them to lose hope for a positive future. Other children had been forced to drop out of school as they took on responsibilities as caregivers or breadwinners. After the children had been in the orphanages for one or two years, the teachers and caregivers observed changes in their attitudes toward learning. These changes demonstrate how a positive and supportive environment can improve a child's attitudes toward learning.

The findings of this study on children orphaned by AIDS are of interest to educators, families, and policymakers. It contributes to the literature on children's experiences worldwide by adding to knowledge on the educational needs of children in difficult circumstances.

INTRODUCTION

Global Toll of HIV/AIDS

According to UNAIDS (2012), 34.0 million worldwide were living with AIDS and 25 million had died of AIDS at the end of 2011. Sub-Saharan Africa is most heavily affected, with a death toll of 19.4 million (United States Congress, 2010). Kenya has a population of 38.6 million, with a 2.8% annual growth (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 2010; World Bank, 2010). According to National AIDS Control Council [NACC] and National AIDS and STD Control Programme [NASCOP] (2012), 6.2% of the adult population and approximately 1.6 million people in Kenya were living with HIV in 2011.

HIV/AIDS Toll on Children

Many children have died or become orphaned by AIDS (Ssewamala, Neilands, Waldfogel, & Ismayilova, 2012). In 2012, it was reported that nearly six million children worldwide had died of AIDS and 16 million children were left orphaned (Byrant et al., 2012)....

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A369128876