x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

School turns away diabetic student

The KHDA is investigating a private school that turned away a three-year-old child on the basis that he has diabetes.

DUBAI // A school that refused to accept a three-year-old boy as a pupil because he is diabetic has reversed its decision and said there was a misunderstanding.

The boy's father Samir Mohammed said his son had initially been accepted by the UK-curriculum school, but when he wrote to remind them that the child had Type-1 diabetes, the school said it did not have the necessary medical support to manage his son's condition.

In an e-mail to Mr Mohammed, a school representative said: "I have spoken in length with the nurse and we believe it would not be in the child's best interest to accept him. The school currently is unable to facilitate the medical care of your son."

Mr Mohammed and his wife give their son his insulin injections before he goes to nursery school and when he gets home. "There have never been issues with him in the past," he said. "We just wanted the teacher and nurse to be informed.

"During the registration we mentioned his diabetes, but the school told us to apply anyway, then denied him later on.

"The school now says my child was not denied a place because of his medical condition. They told me the reason was because it was already oversubscribed when they had offered my son a place, which was caused by an oversight.

"My son has now been offered a place at the school or we can have a full refund. My wife and I are not comfortable sending him there any more, so we have taken the refund.

"The school should have just told me they were full. I do not understand why they had to tag it to his medical condition."

Senior management at the school said there had been a misunderstanding and that the school follows an inclusive policy.

"Due to an administrative error one parent was informed incorrectly that there was no place for their child. This has now being rectified," said the director of the school.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), Dubai's education authority, said it would investigate the incident.

Dr Maneesha Phadke, a general practitioner at the Belhoul Speciality Hospital in Dubai who consults for 10 schools, said there was no reason to deny a place to a child with common paediatric problems.

"The school doctor and nurses are well equipped to take care of children with medical conditions that do not disrupt their day-to-day activities," she said.

Dr Phadke said all schools are equipped to take in children with asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, leukaemia and other disorders.

"The parent's co-operation is very important, which is why they have to fill out a form detailing the child's condition, symptoms, medication and dosage. They have to be transparent with the teacher and nurse."

In April, the Dubai Health Authority and the Emirates Diabetes Society formulated a nine-point School Bill of Rights for children with diabetes after schools were found to be discriminating against pupils with the condition.

The bill includes the right for pupils to take insulin injections whenever they feel it is necessary, and stresses the importance of giving diabetic pupils sufficient meal times, regular bathroom visits and adequate physical activity.

The bill's provisions are not yet compulsory, but health authorities in every emirate already require schools to employ qualified medical staff and keep stocks of approved medicines and injections, including inhalers and insulin.

In the capital, the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi insists that schools develop a medication policy and details steps for administering of medication, how to work with parents and keep records.

aahmed@thenational.ae