Kenyan Orphanage Seeks Court Order To Force Schools To Admit HIV-Positive Children
A Kenyan judge on Wednesday ordered the Kenyan government and Nyumbani Home -- the oldest and largest AIDS orphanage in the country -- to develop an agreement that would allow HIV-positive children from the orphanage to be admitted to area primary schools, the AP/Yahoo! News reports (Tomlinson, AP/Yahoo! News, 1/7). Nyumbani on Wednesday sought a court order against the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the attorney general's office to force state schools to admit HIV-positive children, Nyumbani attorney Ababu Namwamba said (England, Associated Press, 1/6). In addition to allowing the children admittance to the schools, the lawsuit seeks an official government declaration that it is discriminatory for schools to refuse to admit a child on the basis of HIV status (Reuters, 1/7). Rev. Angelo D'Agostino, founder of the orphanage, said that five Nairobi-area primary schools have refused to admit children from the orphanage despite a law providing for free primary education for all Kenyan children. Karega Mutahi, a senior education ministry official, said that the law allows for "equitable and nondiscriminatory access to education" for all children, including those who are HIV-positive. D'Agostino said that the schools have made excuses for not admitting the children, often claiming that they are too full and do not have room for them. D'Agostino said he does not blame the government for the problem but rather the teachers and parents of children attending the schools, adding, "What we are hoping to do is educate the public that the government is against this discrimination, too. There's a lot of ignorance" (Associated Press, 1/6).
Meeting Planned for Thursday
Namwamba, the Ministry of Education, the Nairobi City Directorate of Education and the Attorney General's office were scheduled to meet on Thursday to try to resolve the matter, according to the AP/Long Island Newsday. According to Namwamba, the court has given the parties one day to work out a deal. "Our demand is simple: we want these children to be in class," Namwamba said, adding, "If we don't get this, we'll be back in court on Friday" (Tomlinson, AP/Long Island Newsday, 1/7).