​​​HIV&AIDS in the West Africa and the Education Sector Response: First deliverable

Partners have come to the conclusion that EFA will remain a distant objective if the HIV&AIDS epidemic is not stopped. Africa is the most affected continent with more than 2/3 of people living with HIV&AIDS. With a prevalence rate of 4.3% in the adult population (Population Reference Bureau), West Africa is relatively less affected but the risks of explosion are real and the role of the education sector becomes more relevant (Table 1).

One of the first deliverable of the partnership is a survey conducted with Ministry of Education Focal Persons. Results are given in table 2 and will be regularly updated. The data gives an overview of the current response and covers four thematic areas:

Sector Policy Planning and Management Prevention Orphans and Vulnerable Children Countries report the existence of a national HIV&AIDS strategy (revision is underway in Mali). Although HIV&AIDS is addressed in the national strategy or in the Education for all National Action Plan (EFA-NAP), not all countries have a separate HIV&AIDS education sector plan. Also, a sector policy is only reported in Liberia and Senegal.

Support is underway in the region to map education and HIV&AIDS actions in various policy and planning instruments e.g. National AIDS Strategic Plans, Education Sector Plans and other relevant documents, to develop a typology of planning documents and to provide draft guidelines for education sector planning for HIV&AIDS aligned to achieving EFA in the ECOWAS region.

In terms of management and planning an interdepartmental committee is in place in 11 of the 16 countries. All Education Ministries have designated focal persons who have HIV&AIDS coordination activities with a more or less organised secretariat.

Management tools are not widely available. Specific HIV/AIDS and Education indicators are lacking and these need to be elaborated (teacher attrition, absenteeism…) as well as using computer models to forecast the impact of HIV&AIDS on the education sector.

HIV&AIDS prevention is mainstreamed in the curriculum in most of the countries but not as a stand-alone subject. The primary and secondary levels are targeted with the tertiary sector remaining to be invested in.

Teacher training programmes and messages designed to help teachers protect themselves as well as complementary approaches are reported in almost all countries.

Caring and support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children figures in EFA-NAP in all countries to meet EFA goals but focal persons interviewed reported a limited response from their departments mainly due to the lack of available data.