The National Council of People Living with HIV/Aids (Nacopha) has called on the government to take action against schools labelling school children living with HIV/Aids.
The call was made in Dar es Salaam at the weekend by Nacopha chairman Vitalis Makayula at a press conference saying early March, this year, the media reported on the practice of discriminating against pupils living with HIV/Aids by marking their school uniforms with a red mark in Kibaha District, Coast Region.
He said the practice was also prevalent in other parts of the country including Iringa, Tanga, Mara, Kigoma, Mwanza and Mtwara regions. “We are still investigating if there are other schools doing the same,” he said.
He said he was deeply saddened by such a practice, which was a clear violation of human rights particularly to people living with HIV/Aids. “This contravenes the Constitution of the United Republic, policies, laws, government seculars and international conventions and protocols on human rights that Tanzania had ratified,” he noted.
According to him, Nacopha is very much concerned about negative psychological, mental, academic and social effects on children.
Moreover, he said it was distressing to learn that even teachers condoned such an untoward practice.
“The teachers have acknowledged that the practice has been there for a long time but they have not been instructed by any higher authority to do it,” he noted.
Furthermore, Nacopha has found out that despite the reports on the practice in some parts of the country, there is no ministry concerned about the welfare of the children including the ministry for children’s affairs such as the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT), Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW), the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children (MCDGC), Prime Minister’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Governments (PMO-RALG), and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MJCA).
Even when Nacopha met with MoEVT apart from showing shock about the information, the ministry acknowledged that there were no guidelines instructing school authorities to label pupils with any health problem.
For his part, Service Health and Development for People Living Positively with HIV/Aids (Shdepha) Managing Director Joseph Kato said the labelling of primary school children on their school uniforms with a red stripe on their shoulders wasn’t proper at all.
Kato said: “Two pupils have already left school in Rufiji District because of being labelled by red stripes on their uniforms as children with health problems and some even wished to shift to other schools.