HUYE – The deputy Executive Secretary of the National Aids Commission (CNLS) Antoine Semukanya has asked district leaders to ensure that schools absorb students formerly sponsored by the Multi Country Aids Programme [MAP].
Speaking during a meeting that brought together partners dealing with HIV/AIDS related projects in Huye district on Monday, Semukanya said the phasing out of MAP activities should not affect the academic progress of the affected students.
The project MAP, working under CNLS wound up its activities last year. It had among other things taken responsibility of paying school fees for a number of students countrywide.
The end of its mandate meant that many of its beneficiaries especially students who had not completed school would drop out due to lack of fees.
Semukanya explained that the end of MAP project was prior communicated to all its beneficiaries but many failed to plan ahead.
“Many associations and cooperatives benefiting from the project failed to find alternative sources of funding in advance. They failed to plan ahead until the government decided to intervene,” he said.
He castigated organisations that dupe the local people into believing that they are the main sponsors of HIV/AIDS related activities when they (NGOs) all rely on government funding.
“You should be honest and tell the people you deal with that you depend solely on government funding,” Semukanya told representatives of the different associations working in the district.
Many associations, cooperatives and NGOs admitted to having scrapped off MAP beneficiaries from their lists after the latter’s termination of its funding.
“We had 100 students getting school fees under the Project MAP but we have since dropped them because we receive no funding,” said the representative of CARITAS; an organisation working under the Catholic Church.
Semukanya said that government will continue to provide Frw25,000 and Frw30,000 for students in day and boarding schools respectively. Beneficiaries are expected to top up the extra costs. He called for patience on the part of schools. He said that school fees arrears will be cleared soon.
Associations seeking to reverse Aids spread were advised to transform themselves into Cooperatives as a new directive and were supposed to follow district development programmes in all their interventions.
The district Vice Mayor in charge of Economic affairs, Ildefonse Gasana urged all associations, cooperatives or organisations to register under the district Joint Action Forum.
Failure to do this, he warned, will mean denial of the right to operate in the district. Such visits by CNLS officials are expected to be conducted countrywide in the next two weeks with a mission of ensuring that all partners of CNLS are well coordinated to harmonise their activities in order to benefit the intended beneficiaries.
According to a recent United Nations General Assembly Special Session Country Progress report, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS reduced from 191,437 in 2006 to 184,859 in 2007.