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HIV+ students sent off again

The five HIV+ children in Kottayam who were readmitted to the school they had been expelled from last year, were shown the door again following protests from the parents, reports Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2007 03:12 IST
Ramesh Babu

The five HIV+ children in Kottayam who on Monday were readmitted to the school they had been expelled from last year were shown the door again on Tuesday following angry protests from the parents of the other students.

The church-affiliated Mar Dionvsis LP School in Pampady has ordered the children, four girls and a boy aged between 5 and 11, to stop attending classes immediately after the angry parents threatened to pull out their wards. So now, they have to continue to make do with special classes at the orphanage Asha Kiran.

"The children, who were allowed to enter the school on Monday, were very happy. But as soon as they reached school on Tuesday, they were abruptly told to turn back," said Asha Kiran secretary YC Yohannan, who is relentlessly fighting a battle for the children.

Aids Control Society volunters, however, have said they would make sure the children attended school again on Wednesday.

"A fever has gripped the area and we have asked the children to stay away from the school till it subsides. We tried our best to convince the parents of the fellow students," said Elsamma Mani, the headmistress of the lower primary school. The Aids Control Society workers, though, termed this as an excuse to keep the children away from school.

The case highlights the stigma that the country's AIDS sufferers go through. The school, which has 65 students on its roll, readmitted the children this month after the state government threatened to withdraw its recognition. But the latest incident proves that even tough measures have failed to yield results.

The children had been studying without disclosing their HIV+ status, but the local media blew the lid when they splashed front-page photographs of the children attending a World Aids Day programme on December 1. The parents reacted and the school's response was to rusticate the children. Education Minister MA Baby and Opposition leader Oommen Chandy, in whose constituency the school stands, then tried their best to make the parents see light, but to no avail.