West African Education Ministers to meet on HIV/AIDS

Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- West African Education Ministers will meet in September to adopt a common strategy in combating the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which is also threatening the education sector.
Ghanaian Education Minister Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra Thursday that these countries share common borders with lot of movements resulting in the spread of the disease.
He said the Ministry has no means of knowing the number of teachers infected or dying of the disease, adding: "this is making it very difficult to determine its impact on the education sector.
" The Minister said a cumulative figure of 43,587 people had been infected with the virus in Ghana as at December last year.
Out of this, 17 percent are from tertiary and 12 percent from pre-tertiary institutions.
Ameyaw-Akumfi said the Ministry planned an educational programme to sensitise teachers, pupils, students and workers on the effects of the disease, starting with newly trained teachers, but that this would require more funds.
He noted that the disease is spreading at a fast rate in Ghana despite extensive educational programmes, with the youth, who are the future leaders of the nation, the worst victims.
The Minister said many people still do not believe that AIDS is real.
World-wide, an estimated 36 million people are living with the virus about a third of them aged 15-24.
Half of the five million people infected last year were under 25 years.
"This year, we are expecting 7,000 newly trained teachers and the cost involved in training a teacher is so high that the time has come for us to create the awareness for them to protect themselves from being infected and we believe that if we are able to get the teachers the students will be (reached)," Ameyaw-Akumfi said.
He said the teacher-to-pupil ratio is such that the loss of a teacher would be a very big blow to a whole classroom of between 35 and 60 pupils.
Already, the Ministry is dealing with a deficit of some 10,000 teachers, he said, adding that losing a teacher therefore means widening the gap.
The Minister called on students to abstain from sex a nd concentrate on their books, saying they have a long life ahead to enjoy themselves.

05 july 2001 14:08:00

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