oa Journal of Education - The hidden work of caring: teachers and the maturing AIDS epidemic in diverse secondary schools in Durban

Volume 38, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-479X



In this article we argue that, almost unnoticed, teachers are dealing with the consequences of HIV/AIDS in their schools and classrooms. By focusing on the pastoral care of teachers work with learners, we explore the ways that teachers understand the care component of their school work, and descriptionbe what they actually do for learners who are either infected or affected by AIDS. Many teachers are in some or other way involved in care work, but the conditions of schools determine the nature and extent of the care work that teachers are called to deliver. In most schools there are no staff employed specifically to provide counselling though well resourced schools often are able to employ counsellors to assist learners. Teachers in the schools with the least resources are frequently those required to provide the most demanding forms of support and care to learners. This article is based on interviews with secondary school teachers in the greater Durban area who are responsible for the delivery of the life orientation curriculum in their schools. It is these teachers who are in the frontline of pastoral work although other teachers perform pastoral work too. Teachers in under resourced schools, located in areas characterised by poverty, do a huge amount of work with learners. This work does not fall within the curriculum and cannot easily be measured. It does not count towards promotion nor is it noticed in any public way by the teacher hierarchy. But, we argue, it is this work that is cushioning learners from the trauma of loss that many are confronting. It is thus vital for the well-being of schools, even as it is hidden from public recognition.

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