No place for HIV+ orphans in classroom | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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No place for HIV+ orphans in classroom

In a world spending billions of dollars on AIDS awareness programmes, they are nobody’s children. Prakash Adhikari and Sushanta Patra, two orphans aged 14 and 10, were refused admission to class V in a government-aided school — Langalberia Suraj Smriti Vidyalaya — 10 km from Kolkata, because they are HIV+. Avijit Ghosal reports...

kolkata Updated: Nov 28, 2009 02:32 IST
Avijit Ghosal

In a world spending billions of dollars on AIDS awareness programmes, they are nobody’s children.

Prakash Adhikari and Sushanta Patra, two orphans aged 14 and 10, were refused admission to class V in a government-aided school — Langalberia Suraj Smriti Vidyalaya — 10 km from Kolkata, because they are HIV+.

Even appeals from the state Primary Education Minister Partha De and project director of State Aids Prevention and Control Society Sushanta Sen didn’t help.

According to the rules, HIV+ children can’t be denied education or treatment.

Langalberia Vidyalaya president Joydeb Nadu, however, defended the refusal. “I can’t go against the wish of the guardians. Moreoever, these students can fight with classmates, bleed and accidentally infect others.”

De admitted the denial of education to the boys, but refused to go into the details. “The department will try to ensure the kids get their right,” was all he was willing to say.

“A bigger tragedy awaits us,” said Kallol Ghosh who runs Anandaghar, the orphanage that houses 39 HIV+ orphans.

“Eight children of my home are supposed to pass class IV examinations in March. Will they too be forced to drop out simply because of the virus in their blood?” asked Ghosh.

He has been shuttling between the local panchayat leaders, the school headmaster, head of Bengal’s Aids Prevention and Control Society, and the education minister to get the two children admitted.

Ostracised by his family when he was five, Patra was rescued by Ghosh from a cowshed in Midnapore, about 180 km west of Kolkata, in 2005.

Despite clearing the class IV exams from Govindapur Kamini Devi Vidyalaya (a primary school in the same locality), both boys have been sitting idle for the past eight months at Anandaghar.