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Document Abstract
Published: 2015

Factors shaping the HIV-competence of two primary schools in rural Zimbabwe

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School attendance often has positive impacts on the well-being of HIV-affected and HIV-vulnerable children in sub-Saharan Africa. In the context of the growing emphasis on the need for schools to go ‘beyond education’, international policy accords schools and teachers a central role in the care and protection of such children, particularly in relation to facilitating their school access and their health and well-being. However, much remains to be learned about (i) the readiness and ability of schools to take on these roles, and (ii) the impacts of wider contextual factors on school efforts.

This paper explores these issues through a multi-method study of two primary schools in a rural Zimbabwean province, one in a rural area and one in a small town. The rural school is located in a relatively settled rural farming settlement, and small-town primary school is located in a small roadside town. Compared to the small-town school, the rural school is associated with

  • higher levels of school attendance by HIV-affected children in its catchment area; and
  • higher well-being scores among HIV-affected children


The authors use the method of dichotomous case comparison, involving comparisons of very different cases, to flag up factors facilitating or hindering each school in providing support and care for HIV-affected children.

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