Today on our investigative journalism segment we take a look at a case involving a child who has being shunned by certain educational officials due to misconceptions about a global health issue.
The Education Director of the North Western Province and several senior education officials are currently in China on a duty mission. If the poor understanding among these education officials on HIV Aids could be rectified at least in China, the fundamental rights of this child will be assured.
The injustice caused to this child who has been denied admission to a school due to rumours that his father had died of HIV Aids and that his mother too was HIV Positive, was highlighted by Action TV on February 13.
The reason for dening the child admission to the school that is most suitable for admission based on the distance from the school to the child’s home and the child’s family background, was explained by the school prinicpal.
Principal: “I know that child does not attend this school. Why dont you speak to the child’s parents.”
Reporter: “Is the child not given admission to this school because of the child’s mother?”
Principal: “Yes. It is definitely because of the mother. The Montessori was notified and the Montessori expelled the child. I sent three staff members from the school and said that this innocent child must be given admission to the school. However, I had to face numerous problems due to this request and I could not even report to school for a few days.
It is a globally accepted fact that one way of combating HIV Aids is by including affected individuals into society and by treating them as ordinary citizens.
Although it has been medically confirmed that this child is not HIV Aids Positive, he continues to be shunned by certain sections of society purely due to a misunderstanding and misconceptions about the disease.
If the billions of rupees that have flowed into the country for over a decade from global funds to combat and prevent HIV AIDS were used wisely, these common misconceptions in society, which are more dangerous than the disease itself, could have been prevented.
The Kuliyapitiya Zonal Education Director had also taken wing to China on Saturday after informing the child’s mother in writing about a decision pertaining to the child.
The Zonal Education Director had thus instructed the mother in writing to handover the child to probationary care. However, the decision to handover the child to probationary care rests with the judiciary, after taking into consideration a probationary report on issues regarding a child’s guardianship, security and nourishment.
Since the child in question does not face such issues, educating the Kuliyapitiya Zonal Education Director who has instructed that the child be placed in probationary care, about the law existing in the country concerning children, should have been considered before sending him on an official trip to China by spending public funds.
Prior to travelling to China, the Zonal Education Director had avoided meeting the child’s mother since Wednesday.
Incidentally, officials from the Kuliyapitiya Zonal Education office have not provided a response to allegations levelled by this mother who charges that the Zonal Education Director had obtained her signature for five blank documents.
The only education professional who has always stood for the rights of this child who has been labeled a HIV positive, is this child’s Montessori teacher who is on a continuous battle to ensure that his right to education is guaranteed.