The role of government aided secondary schools in alleviating HIV/AIDS stigma in Fort Portal Municipality, Kabarole District
This study titled "The role of government aided secondary schools in alleviating HIV/AIDS stigma‟ was carried out in six schools in Fort Portal Municipality, Kabarole District. The study was guided by three research objectives; to assess the role of schools in the implementation of government policies on HIV/AIDS stigma alleviation, to establish the role of schools in provision of counseling services to students experiencing HIV/AIDS stigma and to establish the role of government in funding programs aimed at alleviating HIV/AIDS stigma in schools. A cross-sectional design with both quantitative and qualitative research methodology was used to collect data from a randomly and some purposive selected respondents including students, teachers, teacher counselors, head teachers and the Municipal Education officer totaling to 382. The study also reviewed existing documents regarding the role of government aided secondary schools in alleviating HIV/AIDS stigma. The study found that in many schools, the role of implementing government HIV/AIDS stigma alleviation policies was not effectively carried out, with many schools failing to implement a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination of HIV/AIDS affected students. The study for instance found that the vice of showing preferential treatment to HIV/AIDS affected and infected students existed through direct discrimination for instance when students make negative comments and remarks about fellow students affected by HIV/AIDS, and through positive discrimination, for instance by sparing them from certain co-curricular school activities. This rather increased stigma among the students and also lowered their self esteem. The study concluded that although teacher counselors as agents of government in these secondary schools were appointed in all the schools, they failed to effectively carry out some of their obligations. This was because of the big enrolments of students due to the introduction of universal education, the double shift in some of these schools and lack of motivation from the government by way of extra allowance. The study recommended government provides increased funding of HIV/AIDS stigma alleviation programs to secondary schools, like provide teaching modules for teacher counselors, motivate the teacher counselors through special allowances, constructs counseling rooms for these schools and facilitate all Ministry Of Education officials at district, municipal and school level to effectively implement government programs on HIV/AIDS stigma alleviation. It is hoped that this in turn will go a long way to encourage the affected and infected students to have a high self esteem, attend school regularly and keep in school until completion.