Discrimination Against HIV-Positive Teachers Adversely Affects Education Sector in Uganda
Discrimination against HIV-positive teachers is having an adverse effect on the education sector in Uganda, the East African reports. According to the UNESCO Education Global Monitoring Report 2006, HIV/AIDS is the principal cause of teacher absenteeism and shortages, most notably in Africa. The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS fuels teacher absenteeism, as teachers want to reduce the amount of contact they have with their colleagues and students, "whom they perceive to be pointing fingers at them," according to the East African. A 2005 survey by Action Aid International Uganda -- carried out in the three districts of Bushenyi, Kampala and Katakwi in the western, eastern and central regions among primary and post-primary male and female teachers -- found that HIV-positive teachers feel pressure to excel in their positions because they believe their jobs are in jeopardy. In addition, HIV-positive teachers said harassment by other staff members keeps their morale low, the survey found. Teopista Birungi, secretary-general of the National Teachers Union, said the union is using the survey to launch "advocate campaigns" for teachers living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Assistant Commissioner for Personnel in the Ministry of Education and Sports John Baptist Ssemakula said, "The issue of stigma is something that has to be addressed over time because it is related to attitude change," adding, "It is not like switching a machine on and off. It requires enhanced and continuous sensitization through clear and smooth provision of scientifically proven information to demystify the conceptual minds of the public" (Musinguzi, East African, 10/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.