AEGiS-IRIN: Education in Africa Threatened By AIDS UN Integrated Regional Information NetworkImportant note: Information in this article was accurate in 2001. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date.
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Education in Africa Threatened By AIDS

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks - July 27, 2001

According to a recent global conference on education, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a bigger effect on teaching than any other profession, and could wipe out the profession in Africa within 10 years, AFP reported on Wednesday. "The percentage of teachers who have died or carry the HIV virus is higher than for most professional groups," said Fred van Leeuwen, secretary general of Education International (EI).

The conference was held in Thailand and focused on teaching in the age of globalisation. This year, the conference also sounded the alarm over the effects of HIV/AIDS on the profession. Some 35-40 percent of secondary school teachers in Botswana are infected with the HIV virus, it said, adding that the incidence in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi and Zambia was also disturbingly high.

"Because of AIDS, there is a shortage of teachers," Pitso Mosothoane, representative of the Lesotho Association of Teachers was quoted as saying. News reports said the conference also highlighted concerns that teachers were abusing their position to sexually exploit children under their care, helping to fuel the transmission of the deadly disease. EI said that it intended to make HIV/AIDS prevention an integral part of its education mission. "Even before HIV-AIDS we had a shortage of teachers, but the pandemic has aggravated it," Japhta Radibe, representative of the Botswana Teachers Union was quoted as saying.

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