A constructivist counselling programme for assisting learners infected with HIV/AIDS to cope in schools
Kwatubana, Siphokazi Joanna
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The aims of this study were to investigate what the 'lived' experiences of HIV infected school-going learners are, determine how their psychological and physical well being are affected by HIV occurrences; investigate how their general functioning at school is, investigate the type of social support they get from their families, schools, communities and the society in general, and develop a constructivist counseling programme to assist these learners to realize their psychological and social strengths in order to succeed at school and in general life. The findings from the proceedings of the literature review indicated that HIV attacks the immune system, that is, the human body's defense against infection, and reduces the resistance of the body to all kinds of opportunistic diseases such as, inter alia, - weight loss, dry cough, recurring fever or profuse night sweats, profound and unexplained fatigue, swollen lymph glands in the armpits groin, or neck, diarrhea that lasts for more than a week, white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat, red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids, memory loss, depression, and other neurological disorders; tuberculosis, pneumonia, gastro-enteritis, meningitis and cancer which seriously affect the psychological and the physical well-being of human beings. Constructivism formed the theoretical framework of this research. Constructivist theory propounds that people create meaning from the interaction between their existing knowledge or beliefs and the new ideas and situations that they encounter, ideas and situations that can only be effectively found in social settings. The constructivist theory postulates that attending to counselee’s socio-cultural factors in the counseling processes provides counselors with a cognitive framework for understanding the major tasks and crises of each stage of human functioning development. Self-efficacy was highlighted in the literature review as an important psycho-social variable that may influence coping among persons with HIVIAIDS as it refers to personal judgments concerning the ability to engage successfully in specific behaviors that lead to specific desired outcomes. The findings from the proceedings of the empirical research revealed that living with HIV becomes a burden which infected individuals carry wherever they go and they find it difficult to separate themselves from the virus; learners suffering from HIVIAIDS do not seem to be doing well at school because of continual sickness due to being infected with HIV, their high rate of absenteeism, their fear of being stigmatised and being socially discriminated against, hopelessness and helplessness, poverty, lack of social support and care by educators which all contribute to their poor scholastic performance; lack of support from family members, members of the community and the school makes it difficult for these learners to live positively; and that those learners who became infected with HIVIAIDS as a result of sexual abuse seem to be eager to spread the disease, instead of using preventative measures. Based on the literature study on HIVIAIDS and constructivist counseling for assisting learners suffering from HIVIAIDS, as well as feedback on the interviews conducted with learner participants who were suffering from HIVIAIDS, recommendations, which could prove useful to implementation of effective constructivist counseling services in schools, were suggested.
- Education