Saturday, March 19, 2016

Factors Shaping the HIV-Competence of Two Primary Schools in Rural Zimbabwe

We present multi-method case studies of two Zimbabwean primary schools – one rural and one small-town. The rural school scored higher than the small-town school on measures of child well-being and school attendance by HIV-affected children. The small-town school had superior facilities, more teachers with higher morale, more specialist HIV/AIDS activities, and an explicit religious ethos. The relatively impoverished rural school was located in a more cohesive community with a more critically conscious, dynamic and networking headmaster. The current emphasis on HIV/AIDS-related teacher training and specialist school-based activities should be supplemented with greater attention to impacts of school leadership and the nature of the school-community interface on the HIV-competence of schools…

Below:  Draw-and-write. She is sitting while the others are playing. I feel sorry for Mona because the other girls don’t want to play with her because they say that she has HIV.

I wish to argue that poverty is a major contributor … It affects everyone’s morals, health and participation in school work. Teachers’ morale is also affected. Teachers’ status in the community is affected, as they appear to be depending on parents’ gifts/incentives … . Almost all schools closed in 2008 … At no other time had we experienced the same hardships. Since then, conditions of service have been poor. The teachers’ morale and commitment is very low. Moonlighting is common among teachers. The headmaster’s legitimate power over teachers is affected because his reports have no rewards in such an economy. Generally, trust is reduced because of the hardships. When school-based health workshops are offered, adoption and implementation is slow in difficult times. The influence of the teacher is comparatively lower when the job has a lower dignity. (Letter from Rural Headmaster to Researchers)…

Compared to the small-town school, the rural school was associated with many more references to morally bad teachers, varying described as drunk at work, absent or liable to administer harsh physical punishment to children.
Some teachers even come to school drunk. Sometimes one might can come drunk for a week, not coming for lessons. Another may be drunk and come for lessons but be very harsh towards the children, even if they have not done anything wrong, the teacher may beat them. (Rural focus group with HIV-affected pupils)…

Overall, our case study findings suggest that neither school was providing much support for HIV-affected children. Yet, as reported above, the statistical analysis found the rural school to have significantly higher levels of school attendance and well-being of HIV-affected children than the rural one. Whilst our research design prevents us from making linear claims or causal connections between our case study findings and these quantitative outcomes, our case studies have thrown up a series of interesting correlations. We use these as the basis for a series of tentative claims about the way in which features of the school and context might clash or support one another in ways that promote or hinder the likelihood of HIV-competence in schools. We look at features of the schools and their surrounding communities in turn, using the concepts of bonding and bridging social capital as a frame of integrating our findings. Bonding social capital refers to solidarity within a group (in this case the school), and bridging social capital to links between a group and external networks (in this case the school and the community) ()…

Full article at:

aDepartment of Social Psychology, The London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
bBiomedical Research and Training Institute, Zimbabwe
cSchool of Applied Human Sciences, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
dDepartment of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
eDepartment of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College School of Public Health, United Kingdom
*Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 207 955 7701.

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