Participatory Action Research in Supporting HIV/Aids Infected and Affected Learners

Participatory Action Research in Supporting HIV/Aids Infected and Affected Learners

Maphetla Magdeline Machaba (University of South Africa, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2642-1.ch013


Contemporary teachers face demands, amongst others fulfilling the diverse and changing roles in their everyday practice. The current roles of teachers are to evaluate teaching programmes. However, teachers often feel ill-equipped to deal with the demands placed on them. Although teachers generally have the will and inclination to help children, they often feel they lack the necessary skills to effectively deal with challenges such as HIV and Aids in the classrooms, participatory action research might be the answer for teachers regarding providing the necessary support for the learners. It provides influence of stakeholders and a higher level of support for the implementation of research findings. It can also be seen as an integrated activity that combines social investigation, educational work and actions. Its goal is to work with stakeholders to generate knowledge in order to initiate change. This chapter offers several examples of how researchers and practitioners are using participatory action research to select effective practices and support strategies.
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Introduction And Background

HIV continues to be a major global public health issue. In 2015, an estimated 36.7 million people were living with HIV (including 1.8 million children) – a global HIV prevalence of 0.8%. The vast majority of this number live in low- and middle- income countries. In the same year, 1.1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses. Since the start of the epidemic, an estimated 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. (UNAIDS 2016)

An estimated 25.5 million people living with HIV live in sub Saharan Africa. The vast majority of them (an estimated 19 million) live in east and southern Africa, which saw 46% of new HIV infections globally in 2015. Around 40% of all people living with HIV do not know that they have the virus. As of December 2015, 17 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) - up from 15.8 million in June 2015 and 7.5 million in 2010. This means that 46% of all adults and 49% of all children living with HIV are now accessing ART. (UNAIDS 2016).

The disease in a number of ways affects many children: they live with sick parents and relatives in households drained of resources due to the epidemic, and those who have lost parents are less likely to go to school or continue with their education (Risley & Drake 2007). Studies in the regions of Southern Africa and South-East Asia have found that HIV/AIDS negatively impacts both the demand for, and supply of education (Gachui 1999; Risley & Drake 2007). Orphaned children are either pulled out of school or not enrolled at all due to the financial constraints of their affected families, and have to assume responsibilities of heading or providing for households. In this respect, girls are more vulnerable. In Kenya, links were found between parental deaths and children's progress through school. In Tanzania, households that have experienced an adult death have been found to delay the enrolment of younger children in school, but try to keep older children enrolled. In Malawi, it has been shown that the death of an adult encourages children to marry earlier, drop out of school to help support the family, and take on informal labour schemes. In Zambia, it is estimated that more than 7 per cent of approximately two million households, are headed by children (Gachui 1999). The reduction in primary school enrolment has a domino effect on secondary and post-secondary enrolments as well.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has spread rapidly across the world to affect all nations. Not all groups, however, have been equally affected. HIV/AIDS has been particularly devastating to those sectors of society, which were already marginalised, powerless and vulnerable. It appears that a critical factor in the pandemic is the issue of power relationships. Those most affected are those who have little control over their lives. They are the most vulnerable to infection and the least able to deal with the consequences of the disease (Nelson & Wright 1995; Van der Vliet 1996). Just as the virus depletes the human body of its natural defences, it also depletes the individual and family of their resources and ability to cope (Lyons 1998). There is growing evidence that sustainable solutions for these kinds of problems cannot be found by experts alone. It is necessary for the people to be involved in finding their own solutions (Babbie & Mouton 2001). Thus the motivation for this study is based on the need to engage people living with HIV/AIDS in an empowerment process aimed at finding their own solutions.

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