Yesterday in Washington,
DC a group of African doctors,
nurses, teachers and education advocates gathered to call for livable wages for
millions of teachers and health workers around the world. At the event
organized by Oxfam International, Gene Sperling, Director of the Center on
Universal Education, spoke about the need for more teachers and education as a
tool for ending the cycle of extreme poverty. Joining him was a teacher from Malawi, a doctor and nurse from Uganda, and
Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance.
Rachel Nataylia, a nurse who specializes in women’s care, explained
how in Uganda
she was the only one working in the hospital and often delivered up to 20
babies at once – with no assistance – and for only $150/month. In Uganda she was
also caring for her sibling’s children who were orphaned by AIDS. Unable to
live off of $150, Rachel was forced to move to the US. Though she misses her home, she
says at least she can send money back and help her family.
With the crisis of AIDS hitting Africa harder than any other
continent in the world, countries like Uganda
can’t afford to lose their nurses and teachers. There, people like Rachel are
Teachers and health workers are the backbone of education and
health care systems. They work hard everyday to help save lives, yet in the
poorest countries they are paid starvation wages. Last year rich countries
promised to increase their aid by $50 billion by 2010. If this money was spent
on health and education, every child could be taught by a qualified teacher and
treated by a trained nurse.