Children from HIV and AIDS Households Have Lower Enrolment, Higher Drop out Rates

20 Jul 2006

New Delhi, July 20, 2006 : The study is based on a survey spread over six states Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland. It covered 2068 HIV households and 6224 non-HIV households. A total of 2386 PLWHA were interviewed in the course of the survey.

Though education is acknowledged to be the first line of defence against the spread of HIV and AIDS, the epidemic has a large negative impact on education of children by affecting the access, demand, supply and quality of education, says a study, titled, Socio-Economic Impact of HIV and AIDS in India.

The study, undertaken by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and supported by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found that children from HIV households not only have a lower rate of enrolment than those from non-HIV households, but the drop-out rates are higher and school attendance lower for those who have not dropped out. The girl child was found to be more affected, being more likely to be withdrawn from school. Since most of the HIV infected persons are not only in their prime working age but are also often parents of young school-going children, the epidemic would have an adverse effect on many aspects of child well-being,” the study notes.

The impact of the epidemic on schooling was estimated by comparing enrolment rates, type of school attended, school attendance rate across HIV and non-HIV households.

More children from HIV households dropped out of school to take care of the sick or their younger siblings, assist in household chores or to take up a job as compared to non-HIV children. Reasons like `not interested in studies` and `education considered unnecessary was higher for non-HIV households, a clear sign that education is valued in HIV households and that they are forced by circumstances to withdraw their children from school.

Among the reasons for low school attendance, `parent unwell, `not paid fees and `had to look after younger siblings or attend to household chores was higher for children from HIV households than those from non-HIV households. Reasons like went out of station, to attend social function were higher for children from non-HIV households.

The percentage of children studying in government schools has been found to be higher in HIV households (63 per cent) than non-HIV households (55 per cent), an indication that the burden of medical expenses is cutting into education spending.