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Tuesday 20 December 2005
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ZAMBIA: HIV/AIDS affecting quality of education


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]



©  IRIN

Zambia's gains towards achieving Universal Primary Education has been threatened by HIV/AIDS

JOHANNESBURG, 2 June (PLUSNEWS) - HIV/AIDS is having an impact on teacher absenteeism in Zambia, which in turn is affecting the quality of education, according to a new World Bank study.

'Teacher Shocks and Student Learning: Evidence from Zambia', found that when teachers were absent as a result of illness, the level of learning was affected.

"In a country like Zambia, with very high HIV prevalence, shocks due to illnesses and funerals can lead to long absences and substantial declines in teaching performance," said the study, which surveyed 182 schools in four of the country's eight provinces. It found that the illness of either the teacher or members of their family accounted for more than 60 percent of absences.

Statistics from the National AIDS Council indicate that in a population of 10 million, about two million Zambians are living with HIV, of which half are believed to have already developed AIDS.

The World Bank research also cited reports which had found that the number of teachers lost to HIV/AIDS increased from two per day in 1996 to four or more a day in 1998, representing two-thirds of each year's output of newly trained teachers.

"Consensus is building that teachers constitute a school-level resource that parents find hard to substitute at home - it is possible that parents do not have the time or skills to teach their children at home. Further, the agency costs of hiring teachers in a market may be high, and such costs may be accentuated due to low overall levels of learning in low-income countries," the report commented.

Peroshni Govender, a researcher with the South African Institute for International Affairs who has studied the impact of HIV/AIDS on education across Africa, observed: "Countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe face having the gains made towards achieving Universal Primary Education by 2015 reversed, unless they stabilise the devastating impact of AIDS.

"A dangerous cycle is setting in: AIDS is decreasing the opportunity for children to become educated, and less education deepens poverty, which in turn increases the vulnerability to infection," she pointed out.

"We know that Zambia is not able to train substitute teachers fast enough to keep pace with the rate at which it is losing teachers to HIV/AIDS, because it does not have the resources to do so - we need to look at the problem holistically," said Hassan Lorgat, spokesperson for the South African chapter of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), an international NGO coalition.

According to Lorgat, developed countries and the International Monetary Fund should help to ease the financial burden on low-income countries through debt cancellation, to allow them to divert resources to stabilise institutions of learning.

In the interim, Lorgat said, the GCE advocated training volunteers identified by local community leaders to provide educational support to the students in the absence of teachers.

Govender said governments needed to create a climate where teachers could disclose their HIV status without fear of discrimination or the threat of losing their jobs. She also noted the need to intensify national antiretroviral treatment rollouts.

[ENDS]




 
Recent ZAMBIA Reports
AIDS herbal remedies come under microscope,  20/Oct/05
Community benefits from free ARVs,  13/Sep/05
Agencies step in to address HIV/AIDS in prisons,  5/Sep/05
Civic groups call on MPs to be more proactive in HIV/AIDS fight,  1/Sep/05
Community group project funds ARVs,  30/May/05
Links
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
Guinéenews
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Youth against AIDS
Making a Difference for Children Affected by AIDS

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