Taking the pulse of a sick doctor: A case study of HIV/AIDS -related knowledge, attitudes, and practices of education personnel in Malawi, Africa
This study seeks to understand the effects of HIV/AIDS on the education sector in Malawi, Africa and to assess its capacity to be an effective safeguard against the spread of HIV/AIDS. The study fills in gaps in the literature by analyzing the perspectives of educators at six levels of the hierarchy—from schools to the Ministry of Education—and assessing their professional, as opposed to personal, HIV/AIDS-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP). This study benefits international education and health specialists in the preparation and implementation of HIV/AIDS strategies.
The study utilizes a sequential, mixed-methods design in which qualitative data were obtained from 31 participants through interviews and focus group discussions and quantitative data were obtained from 207 respondents through a survey. The data were collected from representatives of the six levels of the hierarchy: teachers, head teachers, zonal advisors, district managers, division officers, and Ministry personnel. Teachers and head teachers represented 32 primary and secondary schools divided between one rural and one urban district in the southern region of Malawi. Descriptive statistics and cross tabulations were used to analyze the data.
The study shows that Malawi's education system is weak, with HIV/AIDS greatly affecting supply, quality, and psycho-social well being. To a lesser degree, demand and management are affected. The effects are strongly felt at all levels of the hierarchy. It was found that the sector is weakened through sickness and death, difficulty of replacing deceased teachers, the enormous financial burden of paying for educators' funerals and lengthy sick leave, and depression. Education personnel—especially those at the school level—are knowledgeable, have positive attitudes about their capabilities, and demonstrate a strong desire to provide teaching and counseling services to their students. Although HIV/AIDS has severely weakened the education sector, the self-reported high levels of confidence amongst Malawi's educators could enable them to take positive steps to change their own behavior and to influence behavior change in others, thus allowing them to play the role of "doctor" to help cure the rest of society of the ills of HIV/AIDS.
Human immunodeficiency virus--HIV;
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome--AIDS;
0573: Public health
0680: Health education
0700: Social structure