06.08.2004 Education

UNAIDS interagency team for education established

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Accra, Aug. 6, GNA - Member Agencies of the UNAIDS Interagency Task Team for Education have established a Working Group to assist countries to accelerate their Education Sector Response to HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Working Group, a multi-partner effort involving countries, development partners, civil society and private sector aims to promote better understanding, stronger leadership and more effective national responses at all levels of the education sector.

These were announced on Thursday at a press soiree in Accra hosted by education experts attending a five-day sub-regional workshop on Education and HIV in Accra to accelerate education sector response to HIV/AIDS.

Mr Amadou Jallah, Sierra Leone's Acting Director General of Education, said the objective of the Group was to deliver the "Social Vaccine of Education" to achieve the Millennium Development Goals despite the impact of HIV/AIDS on education systems, so that every child could have quality education.

The Group would also network activities in the education sector in countries of the West Africa Sub-Region to strengthen the capacity of the sector to respond with timely actions to prevent learners and teachers from being infected with HIV.

To this end, countries in the Sub-Region are working with development partners for advocacy at the ministerial level to promote understanding and political leadership, share experience among the countries and promote understanding and planning of feasible action.

The countries are also networking with development partners to support and strengthen capacity at the country level for the education sector to develop and implement more effective response and gain access to resources intended for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

A major outcome of the Workshop so far has been the development of sub-regional network under the umbrella of the economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to engage the Ministries of Education of all the 15 member countries by November this year when Senegal would host the Second Sub-Regional Workshop on HIV/AIDS.

In a declaration, the participants called upon development agencies, bilateral donors and civil society to deepen and strengthen their support for education response to HIV/AIDS in West Africa. The participants asked in particular for the continuing support of the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank in their coordination of the UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team Working Group to accelerate the education sector response in West Africa.

It also asked for the support of UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Africa in its advocacy for the ECOWAS HIV/AIDS education priority programme. 6 Aug. 04

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