Teachers living with HIV launch strategic plan

AIDS2The Network of Teachers and Educational Workers in HIV and AIDS, Ghana (NETEWAG) has launched their 2015-2020 strategic plans to educate teachers on the need to prevent HIV, its stigmatization and discrimination.

According to the Plan, even though research has not been undertaken in Ghana to establish the number of teachers living with HIV and AIDS, reports from the HIV Secretariat of the Ministry of Education confirm the impact of the epidemic on the educational sector and catalogues measures in operation, to confront the issues which includes giving a voice to teachers and educational workers living with the virus.

The recent HIV stigma index study conducted among 427 people living with the virus across Ghana confirms that stigma and discrimination is still an issue that demands continuous attention.

It was found out from the results that as many as 159 of the 427 respondents (37.2 per cent) had been aware of being gossiped about once, a few times or often, about a fifth (94 persons equivalent to 22 per cent) had been verbally insulted or harassed.

Also, a tenth (44 persons equivalent to 10.3 per cent) had been physically harassed or threatened, a little below a tenth (41 persons equivalent to 9.6 per cent) had been excluded from social gatherings and family activities and 38 persons (equivalent to 8.9 per cent) had been physically assaulted.

According to NETEWAG, following the implementation of this framework, a number of teachers living with the virus have been identified, their needs mapped and supportive mechanisms established with financial and technical assistance from development partners and other stakeholders.

Mr Joseph Adomako, Chief Director of Ministry of Education, who officially launched the Plan in Accra told members of the network not to fail to respond comprehensively to problems of HIV and AIDS to prevent falling short of the Educational sector and its objectives.

“Classrooms will become empty with a high number of infected teachers and learners absenting themselves from school, and school going children especially girls will have to stay away from school to give care and support to their sick parents.

“Funds which would otherwise go into the provision of education supplies will go into HIV and AIDS related programmes which will make the country fail in promoting human rights, social justice, and achieving the Millennium Development Goals on educational targets of Goals”.

Mr Adomako said since NETEWAG is a platform for advocacy and networking, more teachers will be bold to undertake HIV testing and counseling to know their status and still go on confidentially with their work.

The Chief Director urged members of the network and the general public to help fight stigma and discrimination to make the network vibrant and reassuring for those who fear to know their HIV status.

He expressed his profound gratitude to Partnership for Child Development for sponsoring the strategic plan development workshop and to UNESCO for the provision of financial support for the launching ceremony.

NETEWAG is a network of Teachers and Educational workers living with HIV with about 100 members that remains largely unknown and invisible.

Although it is opened to all teachers and educational workers living with HIV, it is evident that, majority of the target audience have not been mapped and recruited yet.

Source: GNA

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