Number of vulnerable children regularly attending school

How to use this indicator

Vulnerability caused by HIV and AIDS has negative effects on school attendance among children because they correspond with an increased likelihood of prejudice and poverty, which can jeopardize a child’s chance of completing a school education. Failure to complete school can lead to increased chance of higher-risk sexual behaviors and increased vulnerability to HIV. Children in school are less likely to acquire HIV. This indicator tracks the effectiveness of programs for vulnerable children in ensuring both children affected by and living with HIV stay in school. Data for this indicator should be analyzed in conjunction with the numbers of vulnerable children receiving education support services (see the indicator definition here). It is important for schools and community-based organizations to collaborate with community workers to ensure that children stay in school and are identified for education support or parenting skills counseling if there are barriers to attendance.


Number of vulnerable children who are currently attending school during the reporting period

Unit of measure



Sum results across reporting period

Method of measurement

Depending on country context, vulnerable children may be defined as follows: a child below the age of 18, who because of circumstances, lacks access to the basic needs and resources in the areas of safety or protection, stability, education, and health that are necessary for optimal growth and development. This category can also include the following subpopulations of children, depending on the population a project targets: children who have lost one or both parents; children with chronically ill parent(s); children of members of key populations; child victims of abuse and exploitation; abandoned children; children living on the street; children born out of wedlock; unaccompanied and separated children; internally displaced and refugee children; children of migrant workers; children of asylum-seekers; children in labor camps; child victims of sexual exploitation; children in armed forces; children in residential care facilities; children in alternative care; or children who engage in illegal behavior, are stigmatized, or under the control of others.

Community workers should ask caregivers this question directly and verify with children ages 10–18, following consent from their caregivers. Community workers should ask whether the child is currently attending school, when visiting during the reporting period. The community worker can clarify the regularity of attendance by asking whether the child has missed any days of school in the past month. A child who misses 20 percent of school days during the past month should not be defined as regularly attending school.

Data source

This information is regularly tracked by vulnerable children programs through comprehensive family care tools, graduation checklists, vulnerability assessment and household/child service forms, child counseling forms, enrollment registers, infant indexes, and school monitoring forms. Information also gathered included reasons for missing school, regular attendance, and current enrollment.


  • Sex
  • Age (4 years and below, 5–9 years, 10–14 years, 15–17 years, 18-24 years, 25+ years)

Depending on the official entrance age to primary education, primary school can start for children between the ages of 5–7, with the entrance age for most countries falling into the range of 6–7 years old. Preprimary school can begin as early as age three, depending on the country, although worldwide only half of children ages 3–6 years old have access to preprimary education. Therefore, age disaggregations for this indicator should depend on the country context and the ages of vulnerable children being supported for schooling and vocational training by vulnerable children programs.

Vulnerable children programs typically support children under 18 years of age, but there are other initiatives, such as Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored, and Safe Women (DREAMS) (which focuses on adolescent girls and young women ages 10–24) and Linkages across the Continuum of HIV Services for Key Populations Affected by HIV (LINKAGES) (which focuses on sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and transgender people 18 years and above) that provide services to young adults.

Data quality considerations

This indicator does not consider the extent of school attendance, or whether the child has been absent from school for prolonged periods during the reporting period. It is important to verify with the child but to do so with caution and following consent from the caregiver and the child. The number reported for this indicator should equal the sum of individuals in each disaggregation category. Only one type of age disaggregation should be used throughout, and overlap should be avoided.

Reporting frequency

Community workers should collect this information regularly, but they should monitor progress monthly with support from their supervisors. The indicator should be reported on a quarterly basis.

Data element

Vulnerable children school attendance


Vulnerable Children


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2013). Core Indicators for the monitoring and evaluation of education sector responses to HIV and AIDS in countries with a generalized epidemic. In Measuring the education sector response to HIV and AIDS Guideline for the construction and use of core indicators. Paris, France: UNESCO. Retrieved from

Chapman, J., & Parker, L. (2015). MER Essential Survey Indicators - MEASURE Evaluation. Presentation. Retrieved from

Filed under: VC
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