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Moving towards inclusive education policies and practices? Basic education for AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children in Zambia
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Dr Sue Robson
Robson S, Kanyanta BS
International Journal of Inclusive Education
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The global spread of HIV and AIDS has presented a major threat to development, affecting the health of the poor and many aspects of social and economic development. The greatest impact of the epidemic has been felt in sub-Saharan Africa, and Zambia ranks among the worst hit countries. The Free Basic Education Policy in Zambia upholds the right of all children to a universal basic education. This study explored staff and student perceptions of the impact of the epidemic on access to, and the quality of, basic education for AIDS-affected children, orphans and other vulnerable children (OVCs) in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia, where the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate ranges from 34 to 40%, and life expectancy has dropped to 33 years. Data were collected from education personnel in six districts of the Copperbelt with the highest prevalence of HIV and AIDS and from staff and students in six schools. The data indicated a range of factors that adversely affect the access to, and quality of, education for AIDS-affected children and OVCs. Factors related to attendance and school completion; teachers and teaching; quality of learning; strategic planning, policy and school development are discussed. A positive outcome of this study was that students, teachers and other professionals freely discussed issues concerning the impact of the HIV and AIDS epidemic on education in a context where such issues are commonly met with silence or denial. The data enhance our understanding of the current crisis in education and the challenges ahead for targeted development of more proactive and inclusive educational policies and practices in Zambia.
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