HIV/AIDS as a barrier to learning : exploring the lives of affected children in the Richmond district.
Currently in South Africa much emphasis is being placed on minimizing barriers to learning and maximizing participation to learning. Education White Paper 6 of 2001 draws attention to the barriers to learning in South Africa and highlights HIV/AIDS as one of the barriers to learning. This study, therefore, seeks to ascertain what barriers to learning impact on the lives of children affected by HIV/AIDS and what support exists for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Further, this study is part of a larger project commissioned by the NRF on the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on learning in the Richmond District. A participatory research framework was employed in this study using qualitative methods of gathering data. A structured participant interview schedule was devised using projective and drawing exercises to get participants to volunteer information. Six children from a Day Care and Support Centre in Richmond were selected purposefully as research participants. Three focus group sessions were held to gather the data from the participants. The data that was gathered was subjected to stringent content analysis from which topics and categories emerged which were used to report on the data. The data was analysed using critical theory in general and Young's theory of oppression in particular. The findings of this study confirm that poverty, issues pertaining to family responsibility, the emotional trauma of losing loved ones and the crime, violence and abuse that affected children are exposed to, all serve as barriers to learning. Further, the findings indicate that children are aware of the agencies from which assistance could be accessed. However, the financial assistance in terms of child support grants is not being fully exploited by those who qualify for it.