News clipping – The Mercury – 8 March 2011

Education Department launches Aids strategy

The all-inclusive approach to the Department of Basic Education’s Integrated Strategy on HIV and Aids could go a long way in alleviating the burden of Aids on the education system, stakeholders at a seminar to launch the draft document said yesterday.

Speaking at the launch of the department’s 2011-2017 draft Integrated Strategy on HIV and Aids yesterday, teachers unions and the South African National Aids Council and the School Governing Body Association applauded the effort by the department to harness their contributions, both for the draft document and the upcoming final report due in September.

The document seeks to bring whole communities into the fight against the epidemic, to promote access to information and alleviate the negative factors that include stigma and discrimination against the youth.

The integrated strategy is intended to guide the department’s response to HIV and Aids. It was drafted through consultation with education experts and provincial HIV and Aids coordinators.

Outlining the effects of HIV on the school system, Sadtu said high absenteeism and Aids orphans and vulnerable children placed a heavy burden on teaching.
“There is a huge need for psychological help and for the intervention of social workers, and we, the teachers, end up taking up that role,” union secretary-general Mugwena Maluleke said.

The strategy proposed that all training for educators includes HIV, which will ensure that information is readily accessible to all, he said.

The governing body association supports the strategy.
“Education is one of the over-all development levers,” the association’s chief executive officer Kathy Callaghan said.

By: Ntando Makhubu