AIDS is the number one killer of the country's teachers, contributing to a serious shortage of primary school instructors, a recent UNICEF study has found. In 1996 and 1997, HIV/AIDS was responsible for over 85 percent of the teacher deaths for which the causes were determined, and 80 percent in
the first 11 months of 1998, the study found. Some 107 primary schools were closed between 1996-98 due to lack of teachers. The pandemic was having "important repercussions on the CAR education system", which was already in a "deep and serious malaise" due to growing shortages of teachers, delays in the payment of salaries, low morale and significant demographic pressure. "At the time of the study, to our knowledge, no
teacher living with HIV was benefiting from anti-retroviral treatment," the study said, adding that those living with HIV/AIDS were often absent from class due to their precarious health.
The teachers who died of AIDS from 1996-98 had worked an average of 18 years, according to the study. "Without the HIV/AIDS infection, 25,000 more children aged between 6 and 11 years could have been educated over the past three years," the study said. Based on the same calculations, the study projected that some 71,520 children, including 27,977 girls, would be deprived of their basic education between 1997-2005 exclusively because
of the impact of HIV/AIDS.
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