The recent outbreak of AIDS in the densely populated region of Province Slovakia in Ukraine has caused widespread fear and apprehension in the people living in this area as well as throughout the world. Many educated westerners living in the cities of Kharkov, Luciano, and Haphazard, have been greatly affected by this disaster affecting the entire world. The news reports carried news of how the people of this region had ‘fallen victim to an epidemic’, which was spreading with alarming speed. Though there has been no confirmation as yet about a link between the Kharkov measles outbreak and the recent calamity, the fears it has created in the minds of several educated class people in Europe and the United States cannot be overlooked.
Since the turn of the millennium, the incidence of AIDS and other transmittable diseases has grown at a much faster rate than every other previous century. This has resulted in an unprecedented level of illiteracy across the globe, especially in low-income countries like the former Yugoslavia, India, China and Pakistan. Education is one of the most important instruments in combating the spread of AIDS. As the epidemic spreads with alarming speed across the globe, the role of education in reducing the levels of poverty is also becoming more important than ever. As in the case of the Kharkov measles outbreak, the levels of inequality have grown across the board, with children being affected by severe poverty and insecurity in rural areas. In some parts of Moldova and Ukraine to the level of income has grown in the last fifteen years but the vast majority of the population lives in poverty and remains illiterate.
The causes of the recent outbreak of AIDS and its effect on the level of inequality in education are complex. However, it has been suspected that the recent epidemic could have been brought about by the increasing levels of child labor across the globe. Child labor is considered as a primary driver of poverty and corruption in developing countries. Without children being employed in paid work, the possibility of an uneducated adult becoming infected with AIDS increases significantly, thus leading to increased levels of poverty and inequality.
Increased levels of poverty have led to the decline of enrollment rates in primary school across the world. Primary school is seen as a stepping stone for secondary school, which is the stage where students are expected to attain higher academic levels in order to acquire a university degree. A higher degree is seen as a means of increasing one’s qualification for a lucrative job market. With the prevalence of child labor and poverty in education, higher qualifications lead to better salaries and, subsequently, better employment opportunities. The increasing number of unemployed individuals worldwide is seen as one of the key reasons behind the outbreak of AIDS.
The decline in enrollment rates in primary school has also led to an increase in the ratio of adults to children in the workforce, which has resulted in a reduction in social protection among people in the community. This, in turn, has led to increased rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other health problems. A recent study by a prominent World Health Organization (WHO) organization estimates that AIDS currently affects almost 25 million people globally, including an estimated 10 million children. While the exact figures are yet to be verified, studies show that the rising trend of AIDS may be attributed to the increasing number of children in poverty as a result of decreased educational levels.
Education is seen as one of the most effective ways to combat poverty, which is one of the factors behind the spread of AIDS. Efforts by governments to improve education levels, as well as by civil organizations aiming to eliminate poverty and child labor, are seen as contributing to the prevention of AIDS. Efforts by WHO and other international organizations have led to many educational programs being introduced in countries where there are higher proportions of people living in poverty and in areas where child labor is prevalent. For example, the Bill of Rights for Children and its European counterparts, the European Community’s campaign against child labor, Aiming for a Healthy Europe and the Swiss campaign on child labor, which serves almost two million children.
In addition to efforts by governmental institutions to combat poverty and eradicate child labor, there are also efforts by organizations and individuals to eliminate the risk of contracting H.I.S.S., AIDS or any other disease caused by exposure to H.I.S. such as HIV/AIDS. The number of children in poor economic conditions who contracted H.I.S.S., while only a small proportion were infected with AIDS, makes these diseases particularly notable in relation to the pandemic. Efforts by organizations aiming to eliminate poverty have helped reduce the number of children working in hazardous occupations, but efforts aimed at eliminating child labor will always be a challenge. One reason why poverty is such a significant and yet relatively easy to prevent the cause of H.I.S. is that a large number of children are born into families where the mother is forced to work in hazardous occupations during pregnancy or childbirth.
The decreasing poverty rates across the world are allowing more families to afford educational facilities for their children, increasing overall educational opportunities for the next generation. However, the problem of child labor and the lack of an enabling environment to encourage children to pursue education remains a major barrier to education. One way to encouraging educational development through poverty is by ensuring that families have access to quality education. This can be done through investments in infrastructure and setting up appropriate environments to enable children to gain an education. It may also be possible to improve conditions in the home to make it conducive to learning.