A 13-year-old HIV/AIDS affected girl has been driven out of the hostel of a Central government-run school in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, allegedly on the insistence of other students’ parents, a child rights activist said.
The girl has allegedly been denied the right to stay in the hostel of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalay residential school for the last one year, although school authorities allowed her to continue her studies.
“It’s very unfortunate that authorities of a school run by the Ministry of Human Resources Development treated the child unfairly. The confidentiality of her HIV-positive status child has been breached. This led to violation of her right to privacy. Stigmatisation of this nature has undermined her dignity,” said child rights campaigner Biraja Prasad Pati.
Pati said that the school authorities took this action following opposition from parents of other students.
Navodaya Vidyalay Principal Parvati Pradhan, however, said, “The child has never been discriminated against. On health grounds, we had allowed her to study here while staying at home on her guardian’s request. We had done so purely on humanitarian considerations.”
The girl, who is good in studies, was recently promoted to standard nine, but because of the humiliation, her guardians have decided to seek transfer and admit her in the village school, she said.
She has stopped going to school after being denied hostel stay, Pati said, adding she goes to school only to write the examination twice a year.
“Our village is at least 45 kms from the school. We used to take her to school occasionally. But as the strenuous journey took a toll on her health, we later stopped it,” her family members said. “We have decided to enrol her in the village school in 9th standard.”
The girl lost her parents to AIDS long back and is presently being taken care of by her paternal uncle. Her younger brother is also an HIV/AIDS carrier.
“Denying education to children with HIV/AIDS is an offence as per Supreme Court order,” Pati said.
“I have petitioned the district collector and has sought action against the school authorities,” Pati said.
Kendrapara Additional District Magistrate, Dhananjay Swain, said, “We have received a petition which alleged discrimination against the child living with HIV/AIDS. The administration is inquiring into it. If the charge is proved, action will be taken against the school authorities.”