The education of children and youth merits highest priority in a world afflicted by HIV/AIDS. It merits priority because a good basic education itself ranks among the most effective—and cost-effective—means of HIV/AIDS prevention. School children are a “Window of Hope” into the future. Nearly all school age children are free of HIV/AIDS infection, even in the worst affected countries, and if they remain free of infection as they grow up they could change the face of the epidemic within a generation. Education is an effective “Social Vaccine” against HIV/AIDS. The risk of HIV/AIDS infection is more than halved for young people, particularly girls, who stay in school and complete a basic education. The Global Campaign for Education has estimated that some 7 million cases of HIV/AIDS could be avoided by the achievement of Education for All.
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Why is HIV/AIDS and school important?
The capacity of the education sector to deliver the “Social Vaccine” is reduced by the impact of HIV/AIDS. The epidemic is damaging education systems by killing teachers, increasing rates of teacher absenteeism, and creating orphans and vulnerable children who are more likely to drop out of school or not attend school at all.
The education sector has a central role in the multisectoral response to HIV/AIDS. But current evidence shows that the education sector response by both countries and agencies has often been slow and inadequate. This does not appear to reflect a simple lack of resources: although the overall resource envelope may be inadequate, those resources that are currently available (e.g. from the World Bank Multi-Country AIDS Program and from the Global Fund) are underutilized by the education sector. Indeed, few education systems have begun to address HIV/AIDS systematically and many countries have yet to develop a formal strategy for an education sector response to HIV/AIDS.
At the request of countries affected by HIV/AIDS, the UNAIDS Inter Agency Task Team (IATT) for Education was established as a mechanism for coordinating action on AIDS and education among the UNAIDS co-sponsors, bilateral donors and Civil Society. In 2002, the IATT established a Working Group, coordinated by the World Bank, with the specific operational aim of helping countries to “Accelerate the Education Sector Response to HIV/AIDS in Africa”. Working with country teams, the Working Group identified four key areas for support:
Key elements of this activity include sub-regional and national workshops that bring together education, health and national AIDS teams to share good practices and develop more effective strategies that result in implementation at the school level. The workshops are a point of entry for dialogue to:
promote sectoral leadership
identify gaps in knowledge and build capacity
share information and build networks
strengthen stakeholder coordination
identify new resources for the education sector
How does the World Bank support HIV/AIDS and education?
In developing countries, the World Bank is focusing on developing stronger links between education and other sectors, especially health, to mainstream HIV and AIDS in new programs, and on making resources for HIV and AIDS available to the education sector. Since November 2002, education teams from 34 national governments and 49 State governments in Africa have sought the assistance of the Working Group to assist them in undertaking situation analyses, and strengthening education sector strategies, policies and work plans. The work has focused on five key thematic areas:
At the request of countries affected by HIV/AIDS, the UNAIDS Inter Agency Task Team (IATT) for Education was established as a mechanism for coordinating action on AIDS and education among the UNAIDS co-sponsors, bilateral donors and Civil Society. In 2002, the IATT established a Working Group, coordinated by the World Bank, with the specific operational aim of helping countries to “Accelerate the Education Sector Response to HIV/AIDS in Africa”. Working with country teams, the Working Group identified four key areas for support: donor coordination, leadership in the education sector, capacity building, and sharing of information on good practices in sectoral responses to HIV/AIDS.
Who does the World Bank work with on issues of HIV/AIDS and education?
The Bank partners with a number of donors, bilateral institutions, and non-governmental organizations in the area of HIV/AIDS and education. Recent projects have been undertaken in cooperation with partners such as the Development for International Development (DFID), United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Children's Education Fund (UNICEF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the Partnership for Child Development (PCD).