Fees bar African Aids orphans from schools

Estimated worldwide HIV infections: 57 569 638 at 12.30pm on June 2 2004.

School fees are preventing vast numbers of Aids orphans from getting an education and improving their future prospects, a United Nations official said on Tuesday.

While some African countries have outlawed fees, they typically resurface in other forms such as registration charges, limits on eligibility for subsidies and bills for books or uniforms, said Stephen Lewis, the UN special envoy for Aids in Africa.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which took effect in 1990, requires that children get a free primary education. It has been ratified by all but two of the 191 UN members — Somalia and the United States.

Yet ‘everywhere my colleagues and I visited, people talked of school fees as a bar to enrolment”.

Lewis said it was also clear that governments have no plans in place to deal with an expected ‘onslaught of abandoned, rootless, bewildered and despairing kids of all ages”.

The number of Aids orphans under the age of 18 around the world is expected to soar to 25-million by 2010, with the vast majority living in Africa, according to UN figures.

Source: http://www.alertnet.org/

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