SCF to study Vanni children's plight

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 06 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Ten thousand school children from a total of 66,000 living in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) controlled areas, are unable go to school due to the war. These statistics were presented at a seminar in Trincomalee organised by the Ministry of Education, Cultural Affairs and Sports of the Northeast Provincial Council (NEPC), and sponsored by Save the Children Fund (SCF).

The seminar is the initial stage of an SCF project to identify the causes of children not attending school.

The reasons adduced for the situation included war, extreme poverty caused by war, displacement, poor transport services, and an ever enlarging student population in schools due to displacement, and demoralisation of teachers.

The substantial part of the SCF project will be a visit by the Vanni Education Appraisal team to the LTTE controlled areas for identifying problems of children in the 5 to 14 year age group.

The team which will also include two SCF consultants, Ms. Shan Campbell and Ms. Karen Eyres will visit the LTTE controlled areas in Kilinochci, Mullaitheevu, Vavuniya (north) and the Mannar mainland from 11th to 18th May.

Prof. T Ethirweerasigham, the former high jump champion at the Asian games, who is tipped to be the next Director Sports, Ministry of Education in the NEPC, will also accompany the team.

A large number of children in the Vanni are unable to study because school buildings in the region have been damaged or destroyed by SLAF bombing, taken over by the SLA or are being used to house refugees.

Large schools in the Vanni towns of Nedunkerni, Omanthai, Puliyankulam, Kanakaraya Kulam, Mankulam Ottisuttaan, and Kilinochchi have either been destroyed in SLA operations or are being occupied by SLA troops.

A large number of village schools in the areas affected by Operation Jayasikirui have also been destroyed or turned into military posts.

Despite several appeals by the government agents in the districts of the Vanni to repair the school buildings, little has been done because of the economic embargo on the region.

The GAs have also drawn the attention of the government to the predicament of school children in the area who donot have uniform material, textbooks, or furniture in their schools.

Tamil MPs have protested about the ban on teaching materials such as blackboard paint. The DPLF MP for Vanni, Dharmalingam Sidtharthan, has raised the issue in Parliament on several occasions.


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