The implementation of HIV/AIDS policies in primary schools in the Umgeni North ward.
The 2003 UNESCO report indicated that the HIV/AIDS pandemic contributes to rapid breakdowns of existing structures that traditionally took care of the development of young children. There must be strategies to provide support, care and guidance to young children, families, parents and care givers that are directly or indirectly affected by HIV/AIDS. This is classified as interventions at the local level. There must be a conducive policy environment that allows safety nets and strategic interventions to take place, to grow and be inclusive (UNESCO, 2003:18). The death of parents and other family members leave children in a vulnerable state, some of whom enter the school system and are at the mercy of others. School based HiV/AIDS policies and programmes are necessary to protect these children. A two phase research design incorporating quantitative and qualitative methods was utilized in this study. The first part of this study was quantitative (audit of HIV/AIDS policies in 23 schools) and the second was qualitative, which comprised 2 focus group interviews. Findings from the quantitative audit from phase one of the study indicated that while primary schools attempted to comply with the National Schools policy on HIV/AIDS (DoE 1999), policy formulation, policy involvement, policy implementation (action plan) and policy review have not been conducted as per policy directives. Four major themes and various sub-themes emerged from the phase two qualitative focus group interviews with participants from two primary schools. Process of policy formulation and implementation, school based HIV/AIDS action plans, support mechanisms and challenges emerged as the factors associated with the formulation and implementation of school based HIV/AIDS policies in the Umgeni North Ward. Much of the phase one data is triangulated with data from phase two, hence the triangulated methodology. This study confirmed that in some schools, a fragmented relationship between the important stakeholders exists. This leads to the needs of those infected and or affected by the epidemic being treated in a vacuum. Hence, other intervention strategies are necessary. Institutional resources (educator support teams, funding, human resource and school nurse) as well as working closely with other departments are support mechanisms that can assist schools where children are infected and affected by the epidemic. In light of this, HIV/AIDS related problems pose a dilemma for educators to handle. Educators feel insecure as a result of lack of training, lack of support, poor policy directives and a lack of support mechanisms in the school environment to deal with HIV/AIDS related problems in the school context.