Education System in Southern Africa Suffering Because of AIDS-Related Deaths of Teachers
Thousands of teachers in Southern Africa are dying of AIDS-related illnesses, creating a crisis in the profession, South Africa's Sunday Independent reports. Two thousand teachers in Zambia in 2002 died of AIDS-related illnesses, according to U.N. Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa James Morris. The National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa said that educators are dying at an "alarming rate," according to the Independent. The membership of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union has fallen from 220,000 to fewer than 215,000 members, largely because of the number of AIDS-related deaths among teachers, SADTU President Willy Madisha said. "We are facing a disaster," as are union affiliates throughout Southern Africa, Madisha said. A study of the South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province released in March by the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division of the University of Natal found that a large number of teachers in the province were leaving the profession because of the disease. HIV-positive educators usually remained in service during long periods of illness, depression and trauma, the study found. Such conditions directly affect learning and teaching, the study said, adding that the total loss of teaching time, quality, continuity and experience will have important implications that will be "har[d] to monitor and measure" (Tromp/Naidu, Sunday Independent, 10/4). The report also found that while AIDS-related mortality among educators in the region was estimated to be about 0.64% in 1999, it is expected to rise to about 5% by 2010 (HEARD report, 3/28). "Simple arithmetic tells us that we cannot produce sufficient new educators in time to replace those likely to be lost to the system if we continue to train students for a full four years," the report said (Sunday Independent, 10/4). The study recommended that the South African government consider reducing the period of pre-service training for teachers, instituting incentives to lure back educators who are no longer working and providing antiretroviral drugs to prolong the productive careers of educators (HEARD report, 3/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.