This study has as its starting point the central contention that the implications of the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa affect a wide range of societal structures including all levels of the education system. \ud This multilevel qualitative case study of Botswana’s education system sets out to complement national quantitative HIV/AIDS impact studies. Using the draw-and-write technique and unstructured and semi-structured interviews, the study examines the impact of HIV/AIDS on the pupil, classroom, school and contextual levels, as experienced by primary age pupils, teachers, head teachers, regional educational officers and officers at the ministerial level, in high HIV/AIDS prevalence areas. The analysis of data reveals that HIV/AIDS does not only have an impact on orphans and vulnerable children, but affects the majority of children’s psychosocial well-being, perception of self, hopes, beliefs and aspirations for the future, as well as, teaching, learning and the management of learning. Moreover, the impact of the pandemic influenced many of the factors that have been shown to correlate positively with pupils’ achievements in School Effectiveness (SER) research. \ud The findings of the study thus challenge SER’s goal of universality and its narrow focus on academic outcomes. Consequently, the researcher argues that HIV/AIDS needs to be regarded as a contextual variable that not only influences processes and pupils’ outcomes at all levels in the education system, but also as variable that must necessitate a shift in the goals, content and role of education, in order for schools to be regarded as ‘effective’ within the context of AIDS. The study identifies a number of academic and affective educational outputs, outcomes and processes that should be integrated into the primary school phase in order for pupils and schools to not only mitigate the impact of the pandemic but in order that they can become active change agents in reversing the current AIDS trend. The researcher proposes that through a synthesis of the School Effectiveness and the Educational Indicator Research Paradigms, effective process variables can be identified, measured and monitored against relevant outputs and outcomes to support the process of turning the HIV/AIDS trend around
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