Promoting Education for Vulnerable Children by Supporting Families: A Holistic Intervention in Uganda

Despite increased access to antiretrovirals, HIV and AIDS continue to impact millions across sub-Saharan Africa. In Uganda, stigmatization compounds the challenges of poverty and poor government service provision, often limiting children's school participation. Holistic family support interventions are a promising strategy to ensure that children enroll in and attend school. This article reports on the Western Uganda Bantwana Program, which worked with more than 1,000 families affected by HIV and AIDS with the goals of improving socioeconomic status, psychosocial functioning, and educational participation.

Bantwana provided training and materials for families to improve agricultural practices and marketing of their products, offered home visits for psychosocial support, and connected vulnerable families to social services as needed. Using Bantwana's child profiling data tracking 75 youth across 3 waves of data collection from 2009 to 2012 and 138 additional youth across 2 waves of data collection, this analysis revealed positive trends over time in economic well-being and psychosocial functioning, as well as possible impacts on school participation. These findings suggest that multifaceted, family-focused programs may be part of the solution to ensuring lasting educational access for vulnerable youth in Uganda. Given this encouraging preliminary evidence, further research using rigorous evaluation methods is recommended. World Education, 2015.

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