NESOHR delegation meets UN Rapporteur on education

[TamilNet, Friday, 01 April 2005, 10:25 GMT]
A delegation of the North East Secretariat On Human Rights (NESOHR) led by its Vice President Mr. K. Sivapalan (Attorney-at-Law), met with Mr. Vermor Munoz Villalobos, the Special Rapporteur on Rights to Education of the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) on Wednesday in Geneva. Mr. T. Mahasivam, member of the NESOHR also participated. The NESOHR delegation submitted a detailed report about the discrimination shown to Tamils and Muslims students in Sri Lanka in the sphere of education.

The Special Rapporteur assured the delegation that his institution would contact the Sri Lankan authorities and take necessary action to solve these problems, NESHOR sources said.

Ms. Mariyam Tebourbi Guerfali, Human Rights Officer of the UN Human Rights Commission also attended the meeting, sources said.

Excerpts from the report titled "Right to education of Tamils in Sri Lanka" follow:

"Education is one of the basic human rights. Equal opportunities in education also should be assured, irrespective of race, caste, religion, colour, ethnic and sex. In Sri Lanka, the Tamils and Muslims are discriminated in all respects, in the field of education."

"The Education Curriculum should be designed by taking into consideration the Socio Economical, Religious, Cultural and Political background of the students. This has not been done in the case of Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka. The National Institute of Education (NIE) designs curriculum in Sri Lanka. Curriculum and syllabuses are decided by the Textbook Committees of the NIE, which consists only Sinhalese."

"These textbook committees design the curriculum and syllabus based on the Socio Economical, Religious and Political background of the Sinhalese Buddhist students."

"These textbooks are prepared in Sinhalese language and then translated into Tamil Language. Even the translation, is not done by qualified translators who are competent in the subject."

"This results in textbooks with poor quality in language, grammatical and spelling mistakes. The history of Tamils and Muslims in this country are twisted and distorted in these Tamil medium textbooks."

"Furthermore the Tamil and Muslim students receive their Tamil medium textbooks much later than the Sinhalese medium students. For example, Grade 7 students are yet to be supplied with new textbooks based on a new syllabus and curriculum. Singhalese medium students were supplied with the new textbooks during the beginning of the school term in early January."

"The Sri Lankan government security forces had targeted the education institutions, with the motive of destructing the education development of Tamil areas. There are instances, where the schools were converted as military camps. During war period schools were bombed and shelled by government troops when they were in session. Since 1990 about 129 schools in the northeast were temporary closed down. About 144 schools were displaced and functioning under the shades of trees. About 471 schools were partly and completely damaged."

"There are 168 schools functioning, High Security Zones (HSZ). These schools should have been handed over by the Sri Lankan government forces, within six months of signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). But though more than three years have passed, not a single school has been handed over to the education department thus depriving right to education for several thousands of Tamil medium students."

"The Government of Sri Lanka has not taken any step to reconstruct the war-destroyed schools in the northeast inspite of several requests because of all of them are Tamil medium schools. But the GOSL has taken steps to reconstruct tsunami- destroyed schools because there are Sinhalese medium schools among them."

"There is a sever shortage of Teachers in the Tamil and Muslim schools. There is a shortage of 12,000 Teachers in the Tamil Medium and an excess of more than 10,000 Teachers in the Sinhalese Medium. This results in denial of equal opportunities in education to Tamil and Muslim students."


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