13,000 disappearances in 7 years: MP

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 April 1998, 23:59 GMT]
"Thirteen thousand people have disappeared in the Eastern Province since 1990. There are 8,500 widows in the East of whom 70% are between 18 and 21 years [old]. There are 6000 orphans," said Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) MP Joseph Pararajasingham at a meeting held this week at the Ramakrishna Mission in Colombo organised by the Past Pupils of Northeast District Schools Organisation.

Speaking at a seminar on education in the Eastern Province, Mr. Pararajasingham said that education could progress only when peace is established.

joseph_pararasasingam.gif"The Sri Lanka Government and the Tigers have to end the fighting for these gigantic problems to be resolved. Once this is accomplished, the Government should begin talks with the LTTE with third party mediation."

"It is impractical to think of a solution to the ethnic problem [only after] after marginalising the Tigers. To speak peace with the TULF or any other Tamil organisation after excluding the Tigers would be pursuing the unattainable" emphasised the TULF MP.

He said that 60% of the schools in the Eastern Province have been destroyed and that teachers cannot be punctual because of severe transport difficulties in the region.

"The ratio of students to teachers in Vakarai region in the Batticaloa District is 1:64. But the Sri Lankan national average is 1:24. The distribution of teachers in the District is uneven and no regular classes are held. There are no qualified teachers in accordance to the status of the school."

"The shortage of furniture and habitable buildings contribute to the backsliding of education in the east" Mr. Pararajasingham said.

"At present there is a shortfall of 3,500 teachers in the Eastern Province, but there are indications that the Government is making efforts to recruit 400 teachers. This is too little too late. Two hundred million rupees is needed to repair school buildings in the east."

"A merged north-east is the final goal. But it has to fulfill the aspirations of the Muslims too. Only autonomy and a homeland will be a final solution to this problem [a solution] that has been eluding us for 40 years" said Mr. Pararajasingham.

 

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