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How can schools help African children cope with the impacts of disease and poverty? An investigation of 'AIDS competent' schools in rural Zimbabwe

Children affected by HIV (themselves sick/with sick parents/orphaned) are particularly vulnerable to poor nutrition, mental and physical health, sexual abuse and poverty. It is the aim of this study to explore how schools in Africa can help HIV-affected children cope with disease and poverty. Survey data will be used to identify schools with varying levels of success in promoting the inclusion and support of children affected by HIV and poverty, examining links between school enrolment and child health and well-being. Detailed qualitative case studies - using a mix of qualitative research methods - of primary and secondary schools with varying degrees of success in providing a supportive environment for HIV-affected children, will be conducted to generate detailed accounts of 'best and worst practice' in relation to inclusion and support of boys and girls.

The study seeks to develop a model of the 'HIV competent school' - which optimises children's inclusion, support and health, even given poverty and political uncertainty. This model will constitute a resource for local, national and international health and educational professionals and policy makers seeking to promote the role of schools in tackling child poverty and disease in Africa.