The Directorate of Education (DoE) has ordered all city schools to ensure that “no child affected by HIV-AIDS is denied admission, if otherwise eligible for admission to any class in the school”.
The DoE direction — to all government, government-aided and unaided-recognised schools — came after a “citizen’s petition” was sent to the education departments of all states, Director Education Amit Singla said.
“We consulted the Health and Family Welfare Department and the Law and Justice Department to understand its (petition’s) implications,” Singla said.
The DoE order also said “the identity of such children should be kept confidential so that the child is not discriminated (against) in any way in the school,” and “such children should be given all the benefits for which he/she is eligible, as a normal child”.
The order has been marked for “necessary compliance” by all schools.
Singla said the order is in concurrence with provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, and the Delhi Right to Education Rules, 2011. He said the DoE, at present, does not hold any information regarding HIV-positive children in any school.
City schools welcomed the DoE decision, calling it “a step in the right direction”.
L V Sehgal, chairperson of the National Progressive School Conference, a body of the private-unaided schools of Delhi, said: “Things will not change unless schools take the initiative to include such children in the mainstream.”
Madhulika Sen, chairperson of Forum of Public Schools, said: “I totally believe that no HIV-positive child should ever be denied admission in any school. We will all comply with the DoE order.” She said “if need be”, the school will start sensitisation programmes for its teachers “like with any other new initiative”.
Sehgal said schools should ensure a friendly environment for such children. “Treat it like any other illness,” Sehgal said.
Singla said schools will have to take up the responsibility of sensitisation of teachers and making infrastructure adjustments, if required. “The RTE Act also states that schools have to take up these responsibilities themselves,” he said.