KERALA

HIV-positive children denied education



Staff Reporter

KOTTAYAM: Even as the world commemorated World AIDS Day on Friday last, four children, aged between four and eight years, all HIV-positive, have been denied permission to continue their studies at Mar Dionysius Lower Primary School, Pallivathukkal, Pampady.

The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) there issued an ultimatum that the school management would have to decide between two options: either take classes without the three girls and a boy or they would take their wards out of the school.

Says P.C. Yohannan Ramban, who runs Asha Kiran, a rehabilitation centre for the AIDS-afflicted: "My children were studying there from this June. On Monday when they went to school, the PTA leaders asked the headmistress not to allow them in. Though the school authorities tried to pacify the parents pointing out that my children were not a threat to any of their classmates, there was nobody to hear them."

Following this, the AIDS Control Board was informed and on Tuesday, they went again, this time along with the doctor at the taluk hospital as part of confidence-building measure, but the PTA was adamant.

"We do not want to create a rift in society and I have decided to take all of them out of the school. We at the Asha Kiran are getting the full cooperation of the local people and they know these innocents were infected while they were still in the womb," said Yohannan Ramban. "Five other students from the Balabhavan run by the Kottayam diocese of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church at Pothenpuram were also studying at the school. "I have taken them also out of the school as I do not see any difference between my children," he said.

The nine students are now continuing their studies at the Balabhavan with the help of teachers from BMM English Medium (Senior Secondary) School, Pothenpuram, also run by the Church.