Education International
Education International

Press Release 8/2006: UNGASS - Special UN General Assembly on HIV/AIDS - Education is the social vaccine for HIV/AIDS

published 31 May 2006 updated 31 May 2006

EI is seeking stronger commitments on the key role of schools and teachers in HIV/AIDS prevention in the political declaration to be adopted at the close of the UNGASS meeting on 2 June.

Education International and the global unions attending the Special UN General Assembly on AIDS will be approaching government delegations today to seek support for the creation of a high-level G8 Working Group on HIV/AIDS. The Global Unions want G8 countries to honour commitments to deal with the damage HIV/AIDS has caused to health and education sectors, to provide for a considerable increase in resources for health and education services and to ensure proper prevention and treatment programmes.

The 2006 UN High Level Meeting on AIDS (31 May to 2 June, UN headquarters, New-York) is being attended by more than a thousand representatives of governments, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector for a major review of international efforts to fight AIDS. Delegates will consider recommendations on how to intensify prevention, treatment, care and support with the aim of coming as close as possible to the Millennium Development Goal of universal access to prevention and treatment by 2010. Education International is one of the civil society groups that have been granted special accreditation to the meeting. A hearing is being held today to provide an opportunity for EI and civil society to exchange views with Member States.

Wouter van der Schaaf, EI Campaigns Coordinator, will point out that it is utopian to propose educational solutions to the AIDS crisis without correcting the deficiencies affecting teacher recruitment, training and retention. “It is not realistic to even think about conveying knowledge and skills for an effective education on HIV/AIDS given the huge class sizes and pressures that so many teachers are facing today,” says van der Schaaf, adding that “teachers cannot be expected to pass on the knowledge and skills to combat HIV/AIDS when they themselves are facing decreased training and support.”

“Countries must take fix basic issues,” says van der Schaaf. “There is an indivisible link between the goal of Education for All and adequate education on HIV/AIDS; neither can occur unless the workforce issues of teachers are resolved.”

EI is implementing an EFAIDS programme with teachers’ union in 26 countries. The programme combines advocacy for Education For All (EFA) at national level with HIV/AIDS prevention in schools locally. EI has published a number of documents, including Education for all HIV and AIDS: The Teachers’ Union Response, as well as a report on teacher training in eight African countries entitled Training for Life: Teacher Training on HIV/AIDS.

For further information contact: - Delphine Sanglan: EI EFAIDS Officer: tel +322 224 0655 - Dominique Marlet, EI Press Officer, tel +32 477 506416 - Wouter van der Schaaf: EI Campaigns Coordinator, [email protected]