AIDS leaves Mozambique pupils without teachers

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MAPUTO, Oct 12 (Reuters) AIDS has left a generation of pupils in Mozambique without teachers as the pandemic is killing more than 1,000 teachers each year, Education Minister Aires Aly said today.

Aly said at least 100 teachers in each of the southern African country's 11 provinces died from HIV/AIDS every year.

This is the first time the government has given details of teacher deaths as a result of HIV/AIDS. Previously, authorities only gave broad indications of how the disease affected the civil service.

The Education Ministry estimates that about 19,200 teachers and more than 100 senior education officials will die of AIDS this decade.

''AIDS has left a whole generation of pupils without teachers,'' the minister told Reuters.

Rural areas were most affected with one teacher often having to educate more than 100 pupils in a class, far from the government aim of 35 pupils per class.

About 16 per cent of Mozambique's 19 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Each day about 500 people, mostly between 14 and 29 are infected.

The government, which is presiding over an economic boom, has put in place HIV-prevention programmes in schools and hospitals and has embarked on a literacy programme.

But critics say those efforts remain sporadic and confined to the capital Maputo.

Aly said the disease is the single biggest threat to the development of the education sector.

''HIV/AIDS is our priority battle, it is the biggest enemy that we have in the education sector. We are talking of over 100 teachers in each of the 11 provinces who die due to AIDS and this is a huge number given our shortage of human resources'', Aly said.

The government plans to recruit 9,000 additional teachers by 2010 and establish additional education training programmes.

Aly said HIV/AIDS has caused Mozambique's life-expectancy rate to plunge to 35 -- among the lowest in the world.

REUTERS PD KN1933

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