Panaji, July 12 :
The 13 HIV-positive students whose admission to a Goa school has triggered protests from a parents teachers association (PTA) last week, have been accommodated in another school. The PTA now wants 23 non-HIV students, who live in the same Church-run children’s home along with the 13 HIV-positive students, to be dropped from the school.
Several members of the PTA were demanding that the Fatima High School in Rivona, 50 km south of Panaji, should not allow 23 non HIV students to continue in school, Father Maverick Fernandes, a Church official who was involved in negotiations with the parents in a meeting held Friday told IANS.
“We tried to allay the fears of the parents about HIV. Some seemed to be convinced. We also informed them about the Supreme Court judgement which says that there cannot be discrimination against these students,” Fernandes said.
Fernandes said the 13 HIV students had been admitted to another school. The identity of the school has been kept secret, perhaps fearing another set of protests at the school where the 13 children have found admission.
The Friday meeting was attended by the state education department officials, chairperson of state commission for protection of child rights, school management and the PTA, but failed to resolve the deadlock, with as many as 40 parents resolving to withdraw their children from the school.
By evening 25 parents have already applied for a school leaving certificate, so that they could transfer them to other schools nearby.
“We tried our best to convince the parents. But we insisted that the students cannot be removed from school,” said Ramkrisnhna Samant, deputy director (education) South Goa.
BJP MLA Subhash Phaldesai, who also tried to convince the parents to let the 23 non HIV students to continue in school, said the 150 odd parents at the meeting seemed to be convinced until the last minute, when they consolidated and stuck to their demand.
“They wanted us to give in writing that the non HIV students will not be affected by HIV in the future. It is an unreasonable demand. It is extremely unfair. I feel for the children,” Phaldesai said.
The school management was forced to shutdown for a couple of days after the stand-off between the PTA and the school authorities.