Accra, Ghana, April 24, 2012
High incidents of death amongst HIV positive teachers could further worsen the teacher-pupil ratio and thereby weaken the educational system in sub-Saharan Africa. Like all members of the population, teachers are susceptible to HIV. In countries with high HIV infection rates, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa, this susceptibility is increasingly noticeable. Failure to address this situation would result in poor quality of education and also impede efforts to achieve the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
This has necessitated the meeting in Accra (April 24-26) of representatives of existing national associations of teachers infected and affected by HIV in WCA, HIV focal points of the Ministries of Education, teachers’ unions and key national and international stakeholders from about 12 countries. They are addressing challenges with the aim of strengthening teachers’ role in contributing to prevention efforts in the region and to ensure that teachers living with HIV can be supported through effective policies and programmes, protecting them from HIV-related stigma and discrimination as well as ensuring access to prevention and care.
According to UNESCO, the meeting is the result of the strong partnership established between Ministries of Education, UNESCO, ILO, the World Bank, UNAIDS, WHO, Education International, and Partnership for Child Development.
It is also critical to note the importance of sexuality education in HIV prevention among young people. It may not only provide value for money but, in some cases, major cost savings regarding the cost and cost-effectiveness of school-based sexuality education. Participants will exchange ideas and identify common key elements to improve coordination, advocacy and networking and strengthen links between Ministries of Education, Teacher Unions and Networks of positive teachers, a statement from the Ministry of Education indicated.
Expected output of the three-day workshop outcomes include a plan of action highlighting areas of work between teachers’ unions, MoE and HIV positive teachers’ associations, an agreement around the development of a policy framework on HIV and AIDS in the education sector to reflect R200 and protecting the rights of teachers infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and the creation of a sub-regional network of associations of teachers living with HIV and AIDS.
Cynthia Prah UN Information, Accra
Carl Ampah UNESCO Ghana