Over 50 per cent students of a government school in Latur district of Maharashtra are staying away from classes as their parents and wards fear they may contract HIV/AIDS as some children affected by the disease are also studying there.
The Zilla Parishad (ZP) school at Hasegaon village, in this central Maharashtra district, is flooded with requests by parents for Transfer Certificate.
According to local sources, an ashram, managed by NGO Ahmi Sevak, is being run in Hasegaon village where the orphans, HIV positive and AIDS affected children are staying.
Ten students from this ashram, Sewalaya, are studying in the ZP school. Since the last few days there are rumours in the village that if anybody dines or plays with the HIV/AIDS patients, he/she may also get affected.
After these rumours, parents of many children applied to the Headmaster for TC.
When contacted, Headmaster Dharmraj Sathe said, "We will give admission to as many as AIDS-affected children as we can because we know AIDS does not spread by dining or playing together."
"We are trying our best to clear the doubts and misconceptions about the dreaded disease but the adamant wards and parents are in no mood to listen to us. The reason for TC mentioned by the parents is not justified and as such I am not going to issue TC on this ground," he said.
After the clarification given by Sathe, parents and wards of more than 50 per cent students have stopped their children from attending the school, which has around 300 students, school sources said.
Talking to PTI, Sarpanch and Chairman of Gramshikshan Samithi Bhausaheb Deshpande, said, "We are trying to clear the doubts of the parents but the number of absentees is on the rise. We are going to conduct a gram sabha (assembly of villagers) in which parents will be invited and the issue will be discussed."
Meanwhile, ZP Education Officer D Joshi, his deputy S Sonwane and other officials visited the village and had discussions with Sewalaya director Ravi Bapatley.