HIV/AIDS policy responses and their impact on alleviating the effects of HIV/AIDS on teaching and learning : a study of UMkhanyakude district schools, KwaZulu-Natal.
Human immunodeficiency virus infection/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a pandemic that has affected and continues to negatively affect different parts of our society. Education is one of the sectors that has not been left unscathed by the effects of the pandemic. Due to the pandemic many learners are orphans and there are fewer educators since HIV/AIDS directly and indirectly affects the whole social fabric. Thus education, as a system, is under attack by HIV/AIDS as the goal that education sets out to achieve, which is a better life for people, is being severely challenged. The issue of HIV/AIDS and its negative impact on the education process has been widely explored, with scholars such as Kelly and Bain (2008:8) highlighting the need for ‘serious engagement against the existence of ignorance, denial, stigma and discrimination - the contributing factors to the spread of the disease’. They argue that ‘education is a way of fighting ignorance, yet, ironically, the effects of the disease negatively affect the education system,’ (Kelly & Bain, 2008:8). HIV/AIDS is not an individual issue, but one of public interest and national concern. The government of South Africa has put in place policies and mechanisms of dealing with the challenge of HIV/AIDS in education. Yet no one scholar can claim to have conclusively examined the policy processes and possible gaps that may exist in those processes, as well as the implications these have on teaching and learning in rural primary and secondary schools. For this reason, this qualitative study was undertaken. Focusing on the rural schools of uMkhanyakude District. This research addresses the issue of educator awareness of HIV/AIDS policies. It also examines existing programmes for implementation of those policies as well as monitoring and evaluation of the implementation processes. While the study identified gaps in the policy implementation process, it established that HIV/AIDS policies are present in the schools and that educators are aware of their existence through a clear communication process. However, the study indicates that even though policies exist, gaps do exist when it comes to implementation particularly the ‘monitoring and evaluation’ aspect. In this regard, the study makes recommendations and areas for further research.