In a measure bringing considerable relief to students who have skin disorders, the school education department recently issued a circular to educational institutions on “admitting students affected by vitiligo/leucoderma”.

The circular, issued by D. Sabitha, principal secretary, has instructed the department that “no child should be discriminated on the basis of vitiligo/leucoderma.”

She has also sought an action-taken report in this regard, immediately.

The circular follows a petition from the Leucoderma Awareness Movement – India, submitted in July last year, after a student had to discontinue his B. Tech course at Kalasalingam University. The university had sought a second opinion about the condition of the student, who was speech and hearing impaired student and had vitiligo. He later rejoined the college after the issue was taken up by the media.

Soon after this episode, a boy in Tirunelveli with the same condition was given a transfer certificate by his school. The boy’s father, a government official, had sought the help of media, only after which the boy was allowed to continue at the school.

K. Umapathy, secretary of the Leucoderma Movement, said there were around 22 lakh students in the State who had vitiligo. “It is not a disease, and it is not contagious. It is merely a condition where there is a loss of pigmentation in certain areas of the skin. Recently, a herbal medicine was launched which has been proved to reduce the spread of white patches that come with the condition,” he said, He added that around 16 lakh people in the country have vitiligo.

“These children should not be allowed to remain under the sun for too long, as it could result in blisters on their skin. In Chennai, there is better awareness about the condition but in other places, students are forced to participate in sports or NCC,” he said. The organisation is also pressing for a similar circular from the department of higher education.

On March 29, students with vitiligo/leucoderma will participate in a mass painting campaign, thanking Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for the support she has given them, Mr. Umapathy added.

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