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General News of Thursday, 7 February 2008

Source: GNA

Teachers react to finger pointing

Accra, Feb.7, GNA - The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) on Thursday said the education against the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic would be complete if the whole spectrum of society could be targeted for its eradication It said the spread of the pandemic was neither the prerogative of any profession nor group of people and its education should be a wholesome activity.

A statement signed by Miss Helena Awurusa, Education for AIDS (EFAIDS) Coordinator of GNAT was issued in reaction to a statement reported to have been made by Mrs. Hilda Hagan, HIV/AIDS Focal person at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports at the Meet the Press and Policy Makers meeting where she urged children to report teachers who sexually abused them. It said, it was "rather unfortunate that the coordinator of HIV/AIDS at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports only mentioned teachers as if the teacher is the only one who can assault children sexually."

"There is a viable condition of service and code of professional conduct which dealt with teachers who contravened the code and besides that, there were also laws which dealt with people who violated the law and "GNAT has never protected any teacher who has abused a learner from the arms of the law.

"The teachers of this country are aware of the law and sexual assault, whether it is committed by a teacher or a parent is still a crime and should be condemned in its totality and children should be told how to go about reporting it." The statement said instead of blackmailing teachers, the Ministry of Education HIV/AIDS Centre should do a vigorous HIV sensitization of the Ghanaian society, give teachers the skills needed so that they are able to prevent themselves and their learners from HIV/AIDS infection. It said the Ministry should also provide a very safe gender friendly school environment, make HIV/AIDS education a subject studied in schools and to recycle children who did not qualify to enter the Senior High Schools into vocational schools instead of turning them onto the streets.

The statement said, "The Ghana Education Service (GES) as employer should employ qualified teachers, give them in-service training regularly and remunerate them handsomely so that they do quality teaching and should absorb the cost of anti-retroviral treatment for teachers and educational workers who are HIV/AIDS positive."

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