Ceylon Teachers’ Union Chairman Joseph Stalin speaks at the media conference, looked on by Dr. Tush Wickramanayake, Swarna Manchanayake, M.A. Shirani, and Sujeewa Priyadarshani. Picture by Hirantha Gunetileke
Ceylon Teachers’ Union Chairman Joseph Stalin urged education authorities to take measures to stop physical punishment and verbal harassment in schools.
He was speaking at a media conference, along with three parents whose children were affected by the punishments of teachers and a principal.
Stalin added that the Education Ministry and Provincial Education Ministries should introduce a proper mechanism to protect students from physical punishment and verbal abuse by teachers.
Despite several government circulars issued since 1907 to stop physical punishment in schools, physical punishment still takes place today in the school system, he said.
‘Stop Child Cruelty’ Chairperson Dr. Tush Wickramanayake said the Penal Code of the country should be amended to stop physical and mental punishment in schools.
She added that their organisation has made several proposals to the government concerning the protection of children from physical and mental punishment. Five proposals including amending child protection laws, introducing a National Child Protection Act, and monitoring international schools have been proposed to the government.
Swarna Manchanayake, a mother whose son was assaulted by a teacher, said the lethargic attitude of a former principal resulted in her going to court to seek legal assistance. Following the case, the teacher who had punished her son, received a prison term from the court.
“However, if the principal had taken impartial action when my son was assaulted by the teacher on several occasions, neither would this case have gone to court nor would the teacher have received a prison term. But the principal didn’t take impartial action,” she said.
M.A. Shirani said her daughter committed suicide as she was verbally abused several times by the former principal of John Kothalawala College, Kurunegala, in improper language in the presence of all students. She said she is not satisfied with the mediation of the Child Protection Authority in this regard.
“My daughter committed suicide as she couldn’t bear the mental stress that resulted from the abuse by the then principal,” Shirani said.
Sujeewa Priyadarshani, mother of the Chief Prefect of Maliyadewa Boys’ College, Kurunegala, asked the Education Minister and the Ministry’s high-ranking officers to appoint a permanent principal to the college, since the former principal of John Kothalawala College is the acting principal of Maliyadewa Boys’ College now. “He harasses students physically and mentally, levelling baseless allegations,” he said.