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Goal 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Target 6.A. Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS


This indicator is defined as the ratio of school attendance of orphans aged 10–14 to school attendance of non-orphans aged 10–14 years.

School attendance is defined as the proportion of children in a given group attending school.

Orphans are defined as children aged 10–14 whose biological parents have both died.

Non-orphans are defined as children aged 10–14 whose parents are both still alive and who currently live with at least one biological parent.

The age of children is measured as of the last birthday.

Method of computation
To calculate the indicator, the school attendance rate of orphans aged 10–14 years is divided by the school attendance rate of non-orphans aged 10–14 years

The school attendance of orphans aged 10–14 years is calculated by dividing the number of children who have lost both parents and attend school by the total number of children who have lost both parents.

The school attendance of non-orphans aged 10–14 years is calculated by dividing the number of children whose parents are both still alive, who live with at least one parent and who attend school, by the total number of children whose parents are both still alive and who live with at least one parent.


HIV/AIDS is claiming the lives of many adults just when they are forming families and bringing up children. As a result, orphan prevalence is rising steadily in many countries. Fewer relatives within the prime adult ages mean that orphaned children face an increasingly uncertain future.

Orphans often encounter stigmatisation and increased poverty—factors that can jeopardize children’s well-being. Orphaned children and adolescents face decreased access to adequate nutrition, basic health care, housing and clothing. They may turn to survival strategies that increase their vulnerability to HIV. They are likely to drop out of school because of discrimination, emotional distress, inability to pay school fees, or the need to care for younger siblings or relatives or carers infected with HIV. It is important, therefore, to monitor the extent to which AIDS support programmes succeed in securing educational opportunities for orphaned children.


Data on school attendance of orphans and non-orphans are collected every 3–5 years through household surveys, such as Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and other nationally representative household surveys.

Nationally representative population-based surveys, such as MICS and DHS, are conducted by national statistical offices or other relevant government offices, in collaboration with international partners.


Data on this indicator are difficult to disaggregate by other characteristics because of the small sample sizes for orphans of both parents in many countries, especially in small or nascent HIV epidemics. The indicator could be disaggregated by age, sex, and urban and rural residence, if sample size permits.


This indicator is not a direct measure of schooling for children orphaned by AIDS. Given the difficulties in measuring the number of children orphaned by AIDS, the indicator is calculated on the basis of all orphans aged 10–14 years independently of the cause of death of the parents. However, it is believed that a high proportion of deaths of adults with school-age children in countries heavily impacted by the HIV epidemics is likely to be related to AIDS.

The indicator is limited to children aged 10–14 for comparability purposes, as age at school entry varies across countries. Also, the age-range 10–14 years is used because younger orphans are more likely to have lost their parents recently so any detrimental effect on their education will have had little time to materialize.

The definitions of orphan/non-orphan used for this indicator (both parents have died versus both parents are still alive) are chosen so that the maximum effect of disadvantage resulting from missing parents can be identified and tracked over time.

Due to coverage limitations, this indicator will tend to understate the relative challenges orphaned children face in attending school. Household surveys, that are the typical source of information for calculating this indicator, can miss children in unstable households, and orphaned children are disproportionately likely to be in such households. Also, children that are more likely to be orphans, such as those living on the street or in institutions are sometimes not recorded in household surveys.


Boys and girls are both affected. However, girls might be more likely than boys to leave school to care for ill parents and younger siblings. Other gender equality issues on education are elaborated under the indicators of Goals 2 and 3.


The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the international agency responsible for the indicator at the international level. Data for this indicator are collected through household surveys, such as Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), Behavioural Surveillance Surveys (BSS), and other nationally representative surveys. The results are reported regularly in the final reports of these surveys.

As part of a process of routine data quality control, survey results are checked for inconsistencies and to ensure that data are collected using a clearly defined population-based sampling frame, permitting inferences to be drawn for the entire population. UNICEF also conducts an annual exercise called the Country Reports on Indicators for the Goals (CRING) , in which data maintained in the global databases at UNICEF for all regularly reported indicators are sent to countries for validation and updating. Updates from countries must be accompanied by original source documentation, e.g. survey reports.

No adjustments are made to the data compiled from DHS, MICS and other surveys that are statistically sound and nationally representative. The lag between the reference year and actual production of data series depends on the availability and reliability of the survey for each country.

The data from household surveys used to produce the indicator are weighted according to the survey design to create a nationally representative indicator. No additional alterations are made to the data.

There is no treatment of missing values. When the information needed to calculate the indicator is not available, the indicator is not estimated.

Regional and global estimates are based on population-weighted averages weighted by the total number of children aged 10–14 years. These estimates are presented only if available data cover at least 50 per cent of total children 10–14 years of age in the regional or global groupings.




See “REFERENCES” for Indicator 6.1.

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