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Goa school shuts down over granting of admission to HIV-positive students

Panaji: A deadlock between the parent teachers association (PTA) and management over granting of admission to 13 HIV-positive students has forced the school authorities to temporarily close down the educational institution.

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The closure has now been followed by Green Goa Foundation, a local NGO, issuing notice to state education director Anil Powar, asking him to ensure that the HIV-positive students are not denied their right to education. An official of the Fatima High School in Rivona, a mining town located 50 km from here, told IANS that the school had been closed temporarily in view of the deadlock between the institution management and the PTA.

"The parents have been demanding that the students be removed from the school, which is clearly not only unreasonable but also not legal... the school has been shut until the matter is resolved," the official said wishing anonymity. The parents-teachers association of the Fatima High School has threatened a boycott if the institution's management admits 13 HIV-positive students.

The stand-off even forced the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights on to Monday direct both Goa Police and the South Goa district administration to ensure that the HIV-positive students are not denied their right to education.

The 13 students belong to a children's home called Nitya Seva Niketan located in the mining belt of Rivona in Quepem sub-district (45 km from here) and had been enrolled in an open school, before the nuns - who run the home - decided to admit them to a regular school this year.

Attempts made in June to admit the students to the Don Bosco-run school in Sulcorna village, located 50 km from here, also failed due to opposition from parents of students already studying there. Raison Almeida of the Green Goa Foundation claimed that non-admission of the students was a clear violation of their right to education.

"I have issued a notice to the education director to uphold the right of the students to education," Almeida told IANS.

In his notice, Almeida said he would be forced to petition the Bombay High Court bench in Goa if the education department doesn't ensure admissions to the HIV-positive students.

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