Decolonial Approaches to AIDS, Children’s Wellbeing, and Education in Malawi

  • Zikani Kaunda
  • Nancy KendallEmail author
  • Upenyu Majee
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


Children’s and communities’ quality of life in Malawi has been significantly and negatively impacted by the AIDS syndemic. Up to 10% of Malawian children now live with their grandparents in deeply resource-constrained households, where they face multiple threats to their wellbeing. International development organizations have responded to these threats with projects aimed at supporting vulnerable children’s education. This chapter utilizes decolonial frameworks to describe the key normative assumptions that shape these school projects and limit their utility in improving vulnerable children’s and AIDS-affected communities’ quality of life; and provides two case studies of alternative program efforts that destabilize these assumptions and mobilize new modes of community participation to transform vulnerable children’s individual, familial, and collective wellbeing.


Malawi HIV/AIDS School Participation Quality of life 


  1. Ainsworth, M., Beegle, K., & Koda, G. (2002). The impact of adult mortality on primary school enrolment in northwestern Tanzania (Africa region human development, working paper series). Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M., & Filmer, D. (2002). Poverty, AIDS and children’s schooling: A targeting dilemma (Policy research working paper 2885). Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  3. Alejandro Leal, P. (2007). Participation: The ascendancy of a buzzword in the neo-liberal era. Development in Practice, 17(4–5), 539–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrientos, A., Gorman, M., & Heslop, A. (2003). Old age poverty in developing countries and dependence in later life. World Development, 31(3), 555–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bennell, P. (2005). The impact of the AIDS epidemic on teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Development Studies, 41(3), 440–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cornish, F., & Ghosh, R. (2007). The necessary contradictions of ‘community-led’ health promotion: A case study of HIV prevention in an Indian red light district. Social Science & Medicine, 64(2), 496–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cornwall, A., & Brock, K. (2005). What do buzzwords do for development policy? A critical look at ‘participation,’ ‘empowerment’ and ‘poverty reduction.’. Third World Quarterly, 26(7), 1043–1060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. CRECCOM. (2006). AGSP report: Annual report. Washington, DC: Winrock International.Google Scholar
  9. Crush, J. (1995). Power of development. London and New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. DeJaeghere, J. (2004). Background paper for workshop 1: Quality education and gender equality. Paper presented at the International Conference on Education: Forty-seventh Session, Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  11. Dionne, K. Y. (2017). Doomed interventions: The failure of global responses to AIDS in Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Escobar, A. (2011). Encountering development: The making and unmaking of the third world. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Ferguson, J. (2002). Of mimicry and membership: Africans and the “new world society”. Cultural Anthropology, 17(4), 551–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ferguson, J. (2015). Give a man a fish: Reflections on the new politics of distribution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Foster, G., & Williamson, J. (2000). A review of current literature of the impact of HIV/AIDS on children in Sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS, 14(Suppl 3), S275–S284.Google Scholar
  16. Friedson-Rideneour, S., Kendall, N., & DiPrete Brown, L. (2015). Gender, wellbeing, and the ecological commons: Towards a participatory framework of wellbeing for women and girls. Madison, WI: 4W Initaitive.Google Scholar
  17. Gillespie, S., Haddad, L., & Jackson, R. (2001). HIV/AIDS, food and nutrition security: Impacts and actions. Paper prepared for the 28th Session of the ACC/SCN Symposium on Nutrition and HIV/AIDS. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).Google Scholar
  18. Guo, Y., Li, X., & Sherr, L. (2012). The impact of HIV/AIDS on children’s educational outcome: A critical review of global literature. AIDS Care, 24(8), 993–1012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haacker, M. (2016). The economics of the global response to HIV/AIDS. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hayward, C., Simpson, L., & Wood, L. (2004). Still Left out in the Cold: Problematising Participatory Research and Development. Sociologia Ruralis, 44(1), 95–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jirojanakul, P., Skevington, S., & Hudson, K. (2003). Predicting young children’s quality of life. Social Science & Medicine, 57, 1277–1288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Joshua, M., Ngongondo, C., Monjerezi, M., Chipungu, F., Liwenga, E., Majule, A., & Lamboll, R. (2016). Climate change in semi-arid Malawi: Perceptions, adaptation strategies and water governance. Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies, 8(3), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kadzamira, E., Maluwa-Banda, D., Kamlongera, A., & Swainson, N. (2001). The impact of HIV/AIDS on primary and secondary schooling in Malawi: Developing a comprehensive strategic response. Zomba, Malawi: Centre for Educational Research and Training (CERT).Google Scholar
  24. Kaunda, Z. (2017). Community participation in Community Day Secondary Schooling for orphaned and vulnerable students in Malawi in an era of shrinking community. Dissertation, University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  25. Kelly, M. (2001). Challenging the challenger: Understanding and expanding the response of universities in Africa to HIV/AIDS. A synthesis report for the working group on higher education, Association for the Development of Education in Africa [ADEA].Google Scholar
  26. Kendall, N. (2004). Global policy in practice: The ‘successful failure’ of free primary education in Malawi Dissertation, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  27. Kendall, N. (2008). “Vulnerability” in AIDS-affected states: Rethinking child rights, educational institutions, and development paradigms. International Journal of Educational Development, 28(4), 365–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kendall, N., Kaunda, Z., & Friedson-Rideneur, S. (2015). Community participation in international development education quality improvement efforts: Current paradoxes and opportunities. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 27(1), 65–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kendall, N., & O’Gara, C. (2007). Vulnerable children, communities and schools: Lessons from three HIV/AIDS affected areas. Compare: A Journal of Comparative Education, 37(1), 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kendall, N., & Silver, R. (2014). The consequences of global mass education: Schooling, work, and well-being in EFA-era Malawi. In Globalization and education: Integration and contestation across cultures (pp. 247–265). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.Google Scholar
  31. King, B., Burka, M., Winchester, M. (2018). HIV citizenship in uneven landscapes. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(6), 1685–1699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kothari, U. (2001). Power, knowledge and social control in participatory development. In B. Cooke & U. Kothari (Eds.), Participation: The new tyranny? (pp. 139–152). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  33. Maldonado-Torres, N. (2007). On the coloniality of being: Contributions to the development of a concept. Cultural Studies, 21(2–3), 240–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mashegoane, S., & Mohale, N. (2016). Parenting AIDS-orphaned grandchildren: Experiences from Lephalale, South Africa. Gender & Behaviour, 14(1), 6931.Google Scholar
  35. Mignolo, W. (2011). The darker side of Western modernity: Global futures, decolonial options. London, UK: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mkandawire, P., Tenkorang, E., & Luginaah, I. (2013). Orphan status and time to first sex among adolescents in Northern Malawi. AIDS and Behavior, 17(3), 939–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Moller, V., Roberts, B., Tiliouine, H., & Lotschky, J. (2017). Waiting for happiness in Africa. In World happiness report. New York, NY: Earth Institute.Google Scholar
  38. Mundy, K. (2016). “Leaning in” on education for all. Comparative Education Review, 60(1), 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Munthali, A. (2002). Adaptive strategies and coping mechanisms of families and communities affected by HIV/AIDS in Malawi. Prepared for UNRISD Project: HIV and Development.Google Scholar
  40. National AIDS Commission (NAC). (2010). Malawi statistics. Lilongwe, Malawi: NAC.Google Scholar
  41. Ndlovu-Gatsheni. (2012). Coloniality of power in development studies and the impact of global imperial designs on Africa. ARAS, 33(2), 48–73.Google Scholar
  42. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. (2013). Perhaps decoloniality is the answer? Critical reflections on development from a decolonial epistemic perspective. Africanus, 43(2), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Plaatjie, S. (2013). Beyond Western-centric and Eurocentric development: A case for decolonizing development. Africanus, 43(2), 118–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Portes, A. (1973). Modernity and development: A critique. Studies in Comparative International Development, 8(3), 247–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Quijano, A. (2007). Coloniality and modernity/rationality. Cultural Studies, 21(2–3), 168–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rahnema, M. (2010). Participation. In W. Sachs (Ed.), The development dictionary (pp. 116–131). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  47. Rock, A., Barrington, C., Abdoulayi, S., Tsoka, M., Mvula, P., & Handa, S. (2016). Social networks, social participation, and health among youth living in extreme poverty in rural Malawi. Social Science & Medicine, 170, 55–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rojas, C. (2007). International political economy/development otherwise. Globalizations, 4(4), 573–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Samati, M. (2010). The Ambassador’s girls scholarship program: Beyond access is attitude. Master’s Thesis, Brandeis University.Google Scholar
  50. Samoff, J. (1999). No teacher guide, no textbooks, no chairs: Contending with crisis in African education. Paper presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association Philadelphia PA, November 11–14 1999.Google Scholar
  51. Serpell, R. (2010). The significance of schooling: Life-journeys in an African society. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Singer, M., & Clair, S. (2003). Syndemics and public health: Reconceptualizing disease in bio-social context. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 17(4), 423–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stambach, A. (2013). Lessons from Mount Kilimanjaro: Schooling, community, and gender in East Africa. New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thangaraj, M. (2018). Silk, schools, special economic zones: The reconstruction of childhood, education, and labor in Kanchipuram, India. Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
  55. The Republic of Malawi EMIS. (2006). Education statistics 2006. Lilongwe, Malawi: Education Management Information System (EMIS), Department of Education Planning, Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.Google Scholar
  56. USAID. (2003). USAID project profiles: Children affected by HIV/AIDS. Washington, DC: USAID.Google Scholar
  57. Vandemoortele, J., & Delamonica, E. (2000). The ‘education vaccine’ against HIV. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 3(1), 6–13.Google Scholar
  58. Vavrus, F. (2003). Desire and decline: Schooling amid crisis in Tanzania. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.Google Scholar
  59. WHOQOL Group. (1995). The World Health Organization quality of life assessment (WHOQOL): Development and general psychometric properties. Social Science & Medicine, 46(12), 1569–1585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Participatory Engagement and Quality ImprovementZombaMalawi
  2. 2.Department of Educational Policy StudiesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations