The 28,000 schools across South Africa have huge potential to serve as 'gateways' for a range of services for children. This multi-year action-research project undertook to understand and facilitate an expanded role for school as 'nodes of care and support' to vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty. It aimed to help schools to mobilise role-players in their schools and communities to provide a greater level of care and support for children.

Over the past five years, the project has developed and tested an appreciative rights-based capacity-building approach to support vulnerable children. This was done in partnership with the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, provincial Departments of Education, the Catholic Institute of Education, Save the Children UK, the Little Elephant Training Centre for Early Education (LETCEE) and Class Act Educational Services. The capacity-building approach was captured in a pilot version of the Champions for Children Handbook: How to build a caring school community (see link below), which has been tested in different research sites.

Alongside the capacity-building interventions, the project collaborated with other organisations that are working in and through schools to strengthen care and support. The Caring Schools Network (CASNET) and STOP AIDS NOW! partnership in particular were important platforms for sharing ideas and strengthening the work to support child well-being.

The implementation of the capacity-building approach was described in a booklet (linked below) that was published in English in collaboration with the Catholic Institute of Education. It was also published in French for use in Francophone countries in Africa.

Between 2010 and 2012, work extended into the SADC region through two consultancies. The first, with MIET Africa and the SADC secretariat, was to do a policy review in all member states and develop a framework for Care and Support for Teaching and Learning.

The second was with the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) to develop two modules for a teacher certificate that will be offered at teacher development institutions in several countries in the region. The rich findings from testing the project’s Champion for Children’s Handbook informed the certificate course materials.

The project was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; IBIS, the Humanities Instituut Voor Ontwikkelingengssamewerking (HIVOS) and STOP AIDS NOW! 2011 activities were made possible by consultancy fees from the SADC secretariat, viat MIET Africa, and from REPSSI

Further reading

The Journey of Hope: Creating a network of care for the children of Luckau village
Children's Institute & Catholic Institute of Education 2009

Champions for Children Handbook: How to build a caring school community
Pilot edition: pdf version | html version
Rudolph N, Monson J, Collett K & Sonn B 2008
Children’s Institute & South African Democratic Teachers Union.

Champions for Children Handbook to mobilise caring school communities
Rudolph N 2008
In: Child Rights in Focus, issue number 7, March 2008.

Strengthening schools as nodes of care and support: Report on the Education Policy Roundtable
Hosted by the Children's Institute, Cape Town, 28 - 29 July 2003.

The role of schools in addressing the needs of children made vulnerable in the context of HIV/AIDS
Giese S, Meintjes H, Croke R, Chamberlain R 2003

Health and social services to address the needs of orphans and other vulnerable children in the context of HIV/AIDS - research report and recommendations
Giese S, Meintjes H, Croke R, Chamberlain R 2003
Report submitted to HIV/AIDS Directorate, national Department of Health, January 2003.
Children's Institute, University of Cape Town and national Department of Health, Pretoria.