Education said central to Tamil cause

[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 September 2002, 16:35 GMT]
“The National Institute of Education (NIE) discriminates against Tamil medium education, distorts the island’s history taught in schools and is dominated by Singhalese. We can develop and improve our education system when the interim administration for the Northeast is established,” said Mr. Ilankumaran, head of the Education Division of the Liberation Tigers, addressing the inaugural meeting of the Jaffna Education Development Society (EDS) Sunday.

“After 1954, one had to be an oppressor of Tamils to become a leader in the south. But today one has to work with the Tamils to become a leader in the south. This shows the success of our struggle. And education is central to the Tamil struggle for justice,” Mr. Ilankumaran, further said.

Mr. Ilankumaran (‘Baby’ Subramaniam) is one of the most senior members of the LTTE.

The NIE, a key arm of the Sri Lankan government’s Ministry of Education, formulates and prepares syllabuses and textbooks for all schools in Sri Lanka.

The EDS was responsible for reviewing and improving teaching and learning standards in Jaffna between the 1990 and 95. The institution became defunct when the Sri Lanka army took over Jaffna in 1996.

The EDS also published special textbooks and prepared syllabuses with a view to “rectifying politically motivated distortions of the island’s history, environment, and resources,” in the Sri Lankan education system.

In the Vanni, the Society prepares educational resources in Tamil for subjects such as marine technology that are taught only to Sinhala medium students.

Mr. Ilankumaran deplored that Jaffna’s educational standards have fallen. “It is time for the intelligentsia of the district to rally round to take immediate steps to uplift the standard of education. An action plan should be implemented to arrest the decline in the quality of education in the peninsula,” he said. Higher education will be given the highest priority and developed with extreme care and urgency under the interim administration, according to him.

Addressing the gathering, the head of the LTTE’s political division for Jaffna, Mr. Ilamparithi said, “a Sri Lanka army officer was able to order that the Pt. Pedro Hartley College and the Methodist Girls’ High School be closed and summons school principals for meetings in the school. The army officer in Pt. Pedro has no right to do what he did. The Government Agent of Jaffna should be the chief administrator of the district under normal law. But military rule continues in Jaffna. However, we are cautious not to create a climate where war can erupt again.”

The Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian Mr. M. K Sivajilingam said that Jaffna’s education declined during the last six years of military rule. He added that since the SLA is still occupying many schools it is difficult to address the serious educational issues and arrest the decline.

Four resolutions were passed at the meeting:

1. The Sri Lankan military should leave schools and their surroundings under terms of the Ceasefire Agreement between the GOSL and the LTTE.
2. Education through computers should be implemented in the Northeast too.
3. The SLA should vacate the Tellipalai Union College and the Vasavilan Central College. The SLA should shift its high security zone beyond the schools’ environs.
4. More Tamils medium teachers should be appointed in the northeast to meet shortages.

The meeting was held at the Jaffna Zonal Education Centre in Nallur.

The five zonal directors and the additional provincial director of education for the Jaffna district attended the conference. Leading educationists of the north also participated.

A twelve-member committee was appointed to formulate an action plan to put into implementation immediately.

Prof. K.Shanmugathas of the Jaffna University was appointed as the Chairman of the committee with Rev.Bernard, Principal of Jaffna St. Patrick's College as his deputy.


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