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School to pay mother Sh650,000 for expelling pupil with HIV

Education
 Court awarded the mother Sh400,000 for discrimination and a further Sh250,000 as compensation. [iStockphoto]

A school has been ordered to pay the mother of a Grade Two pupil Sh650,000 for stigmatisation and discrimination. 

The HIV and Aids Tribunal ruled that Najah Primary School in Garissa was wrong to kick out the 12-year-old child over his HIV status.

The pupil was on medication when he enrolled in 2019 and had devised ways of taking ARVs without other students knowing.

The parent had tasked the boy’s elder brother who was in the same institution to ensure that he took the medicine without fail and at the right time. But when the school got wind that the minor was HIV positive, the administration sent the minor home.

The woman testified that the school even offered her Sh10,000 to withdraw the pupil from the school. However, she said the institution only sent Sh600.

The woman said that the boy dropped out due to depression. Despite being sued, Najah and one Mohamed Noor never responded to the case.

The five-member tribunal led by Carolyne Mboku found that it was unfair and illegal for the school to kick out the minor because of his HIV status.

Mboku said there was evidence that Najah had paid the money in a bid to have the mother transfer or withdraw the child.

“It is therefore our finding that for the respondents to demand the minor to be transferred out of the school upon learning of the minor’s HIV status was indeed to discriminate against the minor clearly contravening Section 32 of the Act,” the Tribunal ruled.

The Tribunal observed that people living with HIV who experience stigma are more likely to delay enrollment into care than people who do not perceive stigma. 

Further, it stated that when people living with, or at risk of, HIV are discriminated against in healthcare settings, they go underground.

“This seriously undermines our ability to reach people with HIV testing, treatment and prevention services. Stigma and discrimination is an affront to human rights and puts the lives of people living with HIV and key populations in danger,” they observed.

They noted that the woman had testified that the boy no longer goes to school as a result of Najah’s action.

“It is quite unfortunate that a minor of 12-year-old could be discriminated and stigmatised to the point of not going to school by the school administrators which in fact goes against the best interest of the minor,” the Tribunal observed.

They awarded the mother Sh400,000 for discrimination and a further Sh250,000 as compensation for the suffering caused by the school.

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