10.08.20-Education is a Human Right

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) is gravely concerned and disappointed by the current circulating Public Notice from the Ministry of Education & Skills Development; Department of Tertiary Education Financing of August 8, 2022; CALL OF APPLICATIONS REPUBLIC OF CUBA SCHOLARSHIP TENABLE IN THE ACADEMIC YEAR 2022/2023.

Eligibility criteria number 5, states that candidates should be healthy and have official documents attesting that he/she is free from HIV-AIDS and any other transmittable diseases. We postulate that this criterion is discriminatory against people living with HIV/AIDS. It undermines the call by the Global AIDS strategy of 2021-2026, result 5, which states that; “Stigma, discrimination and other human rights violations in the context of HIV both reflect and drive the inequalities that undermine HIV responses. Everyone, including people living with and affected by HIV, should enjoy human rights, equality and dignity[1].”

While we are aware that this is not a Botswana Policy, we hold Botswana government equally responsible for exposing her citizens to such stigmatizing and discriminatory policy and practice.

Access to anti-retroviral treatment by people living with HIV has increased life expectancy and productivity of individuals through proven viral suppression thus limiting the HIV transmission. Therefore, there is no scientific basis for excluding people living with HIV from accessing educational opportunities even outside the country.

Criterion number 6 is equally discriminatory against female candidates by excluding them on the basis of pregnancy. This is in contravention of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which obligates states; To refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation[2] “. It therefore undermines the ability of young women to enjoy their right to Bodily Autonomy and Integrity.

We therefore submit that the Botswana Government , through the concerned Ministry reject this call for application as it goes against the principles of promoting, protecting and fulfilling human rights of all persons.

For more information, contact BONELA on:

Katlego Sechele at ksechele@bonela.org or 72282025

Cindy Kelemi at cindyk@bonela.org or 72385054

[1] https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/global-AIDS-strategy-2021-2026_en.pdf

[2] https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/convention-elimination-all-forms-discrimination-against-women