In this study an attempt was firstly made to define, describe and explicate the phenomenon of HIV/AIDS providing a basis for understanding the multidimensional nature, key characteristics and impact of HIV/AIDS in terms of its background, the current status as well as the future of the epidemic. Literature concerning HIV/AIDS in general, global and in particular the South African situation was discussed. Secondly the concept AIDS orphans was investigated after which grounding, description and explanation of the problems and needs of AIDS orphans were presented in order to give a clear picture of challenges faced by these children. Problems of orphan-hood such as legal and ethical issues, socio-emotional issues, educational issues, financial issues and child-headed households were identified. The study focused on early adolescent AIDS orphans therefore adolescence, as a life phase with specific emphasis on early adolescence was reviewed. Hereafter, the researcher presented a newly self-developed life skills programme for early adolescent AIDS orphans (i.e. AIDS ORPHANS LIFE SKILLS PROGRAMME) followed by all the empirical research findings, a general summary, conclusions and recommendations. The broad aim of the study was to develop and empirically test the effectiveness of a life-skills programme for early adolescent AIDS orphans. Two research questions and a hypothesis were formulated for the study. The research questions included: (a) what is the nature and prevalence of socio-emotional needs and problems of early adolescent AIDS orphans? (b) What are the life skills needed by early adolescent AIDS orphans? Accordingly the hypothesis of the study read: If early adolescent AIDS orphans undergo a life-skills programme then their skills will be enhanced in order to cope better with their socio-emotional needs and problems. In the context of applied research the type of research conducted in this study was intervention research. This type of research was relevant for this particular study because it is a problem-solving process seeking an effective intervention programme for the promotion of life skills for early adolescent AIDS orphans. In view of the fact that the AIDS orphan situation is a crises for the whole nation innovative preventative positive educational programmes for children orphaned by AIDS are deemed pivotal. The focus of this research study was two-folded using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The first phase of the study was qualitative and explorative in nature. The aim of the researcher was to have a broader understanding of the phenomenon HIV/AIDS, the socio-emotional needs and problems of and life skills needed by early adolescent AIDS orphans in South Africa. The focus of the second phase was to develop a life skills programme for early adolescent AIDS orphans, based on the information collected in the first phase of the study and then to empirically test the effectiveness of the newly developed life skills programme. The researcher used semi-structured interviews with a schedule to collect qualitative data during the first phase of the research. During the second phase, the researcher utilised a self-constructed group administered questionnaire to collect quantitative data before and after implementation of the life skills programme (pre-test and post-test). In order to explore the socio-emotional needs and problems of and life skills needed by early adolescent AIDS orphans, a phenomenological design seemed appropriate. The research design was selected to reach the first three objectives of the study, namely: To conceptualise theoretically the phenomenon of HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans, the specific characteristics, needs and problems of early adolescents as well as life skills for early adolescents; a) To explore and identify the nature and prevalence of socio-emotional needs and problems of early adolescent AIDS orphans; b) To explore and identify the life skills which AIDS orphans, in their early adolescent phase need to improve their coping capabilities; Qualitative data through semi-structured interviews with a schedule was collected. The sample thus included 40 respondents i.e. 10 social workers, 10 caregivers and 20 AIDS orphans. The empirical research findings based on the first part of the study confirmed that HIV/AIDS has forced vast numbers of children into precarious circumstances, putting them at high risk of becoming infected with HIV. AIDS orphans are especially vulnerable to HIV infection for a host of social and economic reasons including poverty, sexual exploitation, violence, and lack of access to HIV information and prevention services. The consequence of this is that children are often socially isolated and deprived of basic social services. The findings further confirmed that there are currently no life skills programmes specifically designed for early adolescent AIDS orphans in South Africa. Deficiencies in life skills contribute to the vulnerability and exploitation of these children. Life skills were viewed as crucial in improving the quality of life of AIDS orphans. Life skills can enable adolescents to develop sound and positive view of life. The researcher also applied the comparison group pretest-posttest design (i.e. a quasi-experimental comparison group pretest-posttest design) with respondents to reach the last three objectives of the study, namely: a) To develop a life-skills programme for early adolescent AIDS orphans; b) To empirically test the effectiveness of the developed life skills programme for early adolescent AIDS orphans; and c) To suggest practical recommendations for further utilisation of the newly developed life skills programme for early adolescent AIDS orphans. The researcher developed a life skills programme for early adolescent AIDS orphans namely AIDS Orphans Life Skills Programme. The evaluation of the self-developed life skills programme for early adolescent AIDS orphans was done by a self-constructed group administered questionnaire in the pre-test i.e. before implementation of AIDS orphans life skill programme, and post-test with both the experimental (30 respondents) and comparison group (30 respondents). The sample thus included a total of 60 early adolescent AIDS orphans and the empirical data was collected to include 2 measurements once before and once after the intervention (AIDS orphans life skills programme). The findings confirmed that there was a statistical significance difference in the experimental groups life skills (i.e. sense of identity and self-esteem, communication, assertiveness, self-awareness, coping and stress management, decision making, problem solving, conflict management and a healthy life style) with a 95% chance that the results were due to AIDS Orphans Life Skills. There was not statistical difference in the experimental groups critical and creative thinking skills. Nine out of ten key elements of AIDS orphans life skills programme were thus successful in that they promoted life skills amongst early adolescent AIDS orphans. AIDS orphans life skills programme is perceived as having had the impact that was hoped for.
Thesis (DPhil (Social Work))--University of Pretoria, 2007.