Lack of Education for Children in the East

by Shezna Shums

While the total number of IDPs has been recorded as 292,685 persons islandwide, providing education to the displaced children is a cause for worry.

One of the burning issues affecting these IDPs is education for their children. The pressure the IDP movement was having on schools converted into temporary shelters as well as existing schools having to accommodate extra children, and in some cases a drastic decline in school attendance owing to the tension prevailing in the area are causing concern to the authorities as well as parents.

The Eastern Province is currently facing difficulty in providing education to the students in the area, especially in Batticaloa.

Education is also one of the burning issues causing worry to NGOs. It was stated that 101 schools are currently closed while 17 are being used as IDP sites in the Batticaloa district alone.

Other schools within this district are under pressure to admit new IDP children with some schools having doubled their enrolment as more children arrive from new areas.

[Refugees waiting for breakfast at a school in Batticaloa]

Police records have also noted that since last Friday there has been a considerable decline in attendance of students at schools close to Batticaloa town.

The police records further showed that only 150 out of 3,000 students of St. Michael’s School had attended school that day, while 96 out of 2,000 students of St. Cecilia School also attended school. The trend was witnessed in other schools in the area as well. Only 500 out of 2,500 students of Vincent Ladies’ College had attended school while 500 out of 1,700 students were present at the Methodist Boys’ School.

Police inquiries had revealed that the reason for this absence was the Batticaloa District TNA MP P.Ariyanethiran’s statement that schools in Batticaloa should be closed to accommodate the refugee inflow into Batticaloa.

The other reason recorded by the police was the tension and anxiety mounted on the students by multi barrel attacks launched from the 233 Brigade close to Webber playground, the police statement read. []

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