The HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a significant impact on
the lives of children, in terms of both health and social
outcomes. In 2008, about 17.5 million children were
estimated to have lost one or both parents to AIDS;
14.1 million of them lived in sub-Saharan Africa.
Education is vital to securing children’s futures, and schools
can provide children with a safe, structured environment
in which they benefit from the emotional support and
supervision of adults. Disparities in school attendance
show that children who have lost both parents are less likely
to be in school than children who have two living parents
and who are residing with at least one of them. This gap,
however, is rapidly narrowing in sub-Saharan Africa.
The recent progress has been remarkable. In 14 of 16 sub-
Saharan countries that have an HIV prevalence of 2 per cent
or more and in which survey-based trend data are available,
the level of school attendance among children 10 to 14 years
old who have been orphaned has increased to near parity
with school attendance among children whose parents are
both alive and who are living with one or both parents.
These improvements may indicate that programmes such
as elimination of school fees and targeted educational
assistance to orphans and other vulnerable children
There is growing recognition that child-sensitive social
protection plays an important role in scaling up support
for children orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS and in
keeping these children in school.