Teachers' awareness of the Ministry of Education HIV/AIDS workplace policy:A Case study of some selected high schools in Southern and Eastern Provinces
Chipemba, Marian Mpongosa
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This study was set to find out teachers' awareness of the HIV/AIDS workplace policy. It was conducted in four schools in Southern province, Kalomo and Monze High schools designated as urban, Kabanga and Macha High schools designated as rural and in Eastern province, Ndake and Petauke High Schools designated as rural and urban respectively. The data was collected using Questionnaires for the teachers and face to face interviews for the headteachers and DEBs. A sample of 90 teachers was selected for the study of which 68 responded favourably. Six headteachers and three District Education Board Secretaries (DEBS) were selected for the in-depth interviews.The findings revealed that MoE had made considerable efforts in disseminating the contents of the policy to teachers in both urban and rural schools. Most teachers were aware of the policy and its provisions, although some especially those in rural areas were not.Further results revealed that since the inception of the policy, deaths among teachers due to HIV-related illnesses had reduced tremendously and that headteachers had taken a proactive role in giving care and support to infected teachers who had made some disclosure. On the other hand behaviour change was reported by some teachers who disclosed that they had gone for Voluntary Counselling and Testing.However, it was learnt the issue of stigma prevented others from coming out in the open to disclose their status. This resulted in them getting little support from their schools as the'ir privacy was respected. All-in-all the steps taken by MoE in coming up with the policy in 2004 are bearing fruits although there lies a big challenge in the implementation process which most teachers during the study expressed disappointment with. It was hoped that more awareness would be raised on the contents of the policy which might further reduce HIV-related illnesses and deaths and thereby increase the teacher-pupil ratio and productivity in schools. For sure teachers were a key and valuable resource in the education sector thus Government cannot afford to continue losing them after their training at great cost.