Namibia Education Officials, Teachers Gather at Conference on HIV/AIDS Policy in Workplace
Former teachers, directors and officials from the Namibian Ministry of Education last week gathered in Walvis Bay, Namibia, for a conference to address issues related to the country's HIV/AIDS policy for the education work force, New Era/AllAfrica.com reports. The conference focused on a July 2007 draft of the policy. Participants aimed to develop a plan to apply the policy to the education sector and review a draft strategy to address teachers' absenteeism.
Speaking at the conference, USAID Program Development Specialist Dalene van der Westhuizen said that absenteeism of teachers and the reduced number of employees in education, as a result of the spread of HIV, had resulted in a lower quality of teaching and learning in the country. She said many teachers and employees either had developed the disease, had to look after a family member with the disease or had to miss work to attend to the funerals of those who had died.
About 38,000 Namibians are employed as managers, education professionals and support staff by the Ministry of Education, the country's largest single employer, New Era/AllAfrica.com reports. "It is clear that if we want to slow down and ultimately stop the epidemic we have to focus on keeping people from getting infected in the first place," van der Westhuizen said (Tjatindi, New Era/AllAfrica.com, 7/2).