Shunned, the boy a school doesn’t want

Shanghai Daily - - TOP NEWS - Zhang Xuanchen

A SIX-YEAR-OLD or­phan has been barred from a pri­mary school in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Au­ton­o­mous re­gion be­cause he is HIV-pos­i­tive.

Par­ents of other chil­dren had protested at his ad­mis­sion, China Youth Daily re­ported yes­ter­day.

The boy, iden­ti­fied by the alias “A-Long,” leads a soli­tary life, do­ing ev­ery­thing from cook­ing to laun­dry for him­self in Ni­uchep­ing Vil­lage in Li­uzhou City since he was di­ag­nosed soon after AIDS killed his fa­ther in July. The same dis­ease had ear­lier claimed his mother and has re­sulted in the boy be­ing shunned by oth­ers.

Re­lief from the Li­uzhou gov­ern­ment and so­cial do­na­tions en­sure that A-Long has enough food and water. How­ever, his ed­u­ca­tion has emerged as the lat­est prob­lem for the lit­tle boy, who reached school age this year but is not be­ing al­lowed to sit in a class­room with his peers.

Be­fore his sta­tus was re­vealed, the boy was able to fin­ish one term of preschool class in a pri­mary school. But the school de­nied him ad­mis­sion to the grade one class when the new term be­gan in Septem­ber after some 200 par­ents had signed a pe­ti­tion in protest.

The school’s prin­ci­pal, Chen Xiyou, said they had re­ported the sit­u­a­tion to higher author­i­ties but hadn’t re­ceived a re­sponse.

A mother, who signed the pe­ti­tion, said her child could eas­ily be in­fected with the ill­ness in one care­less bump or fight with A-Long, and this, she said, was too dan­ger­ous.

Some par­ents also said they would trans­fer their chil­dren to other schools if the boy was al­lowed in.

Now the lit­tle boy is learn­ing to read and write at his run­down home, with his grand­mother visit­ing him once or twice a month. A-Long, whose only com­pan­ions are a dog and a flock of chick­ens, told China Youth Daily he used to have many play­mates in preschool classes. But now his friends didn’t want to know him.

“I don’t know why,” A-Long said, too young to un­der­stand the to­tal change of at­ti­tude.

A-Long’s sit­u­a­tion has given gov­ern­ment author­i­ties a dilemma.

Tang Jinx­iong, a lo­cal of­fi­cial, said it would be ig­nor­ing par­ents’ con­cerns if they pushed the school to ad­mit A-Long.

“The best way to solve this prob­lem is to send A-Long to a spe­cial cen­ter with qual­i­fied teach­ers and med­i­cal staffers. How­ever, there is no such place yet in Guangxi,” Tang said.

Six-year- old AIDS or­phan A- Long, not his real name, finds com­fort in his only friend, his dog, at his run­down home in a hill­side vil­lage in Li­uzhou City in south China. The boy, an HIV car­rier, lives alone, do­ing his home chores and even tend­ing a small veg­etable plot by him­self. A- Long lost both par­ents within a year and has been kept out of school after par­ents of other chil­dren raised a pe­ti­tion against him. — China Foto Press

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