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International News

Fees Bar African AIDS Orphans From Schools -- UN Aide

June 7, 2004

School fees are widely imposed in Africa and prevent many AIDS orphans from getting an education, according to Stephen Lewis, the UN special envoy for AIDS in Africa. Back from a tour of Ethiopia, Lewis said it was among African nations that have outlawed school fees under a UN treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which took effect in 1990. The treaty, requiring that all children receive a free primary education, has been ratified by all but two of the 191 UN members: Somalia and the United States. Such fees, however, typically resurface as registration or examination charges, limits on eligibility and expenses for books or uniforms, according to Lewis.

Ethiopia has 1 million AIDS orphans in its roughly 67 million population. Yet the government has no plan in place to deal with an expected "onslaught of abandoned, rootless, bewildered and despairing kids of all ages," Lewis said.

Lewis said school "is a real anchor for these kids. It prevents them from roaming the streets, it gives them some love and nurturing when they feel abandoned and have lost everything. There is something wrong that so many of them should be precluded from attending school."

UN figures show the number of AIDS orphans under 18 is likely to rise to 25 million worldwide by 2010.

"The world has never faced the prospect of tens of millions of orphan kids and societies so impoverished that it is so difficult to absorb them," Lewis told a news conference. He said a continent-wide drive to abolish school fees is necessary. He is considering asking a coalition of private groups to campaign on the issue.

Back to other news for June 7, 2004

Adapted from:
06.01.04; Irwin Arieff

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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