Education system in disarray
[TamilNet, Saturday, 21 March 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Education in the island of Pungudutheevu, lying off the Jaffna peninsula, has sunk to abysmal levels today with only four out of the fifteen schools on the island functioning, said sources in Jaffna.
The schools now functioning at Pungudutheevu - the Pungudutheevu Maththiya Maha Viththiyalayam, Ganeshananda Viththiyalayam, Kamalambikai Viththiyalayam and the Sri Subramaniyam Girl's School - have a total student population of only 750.
There are no teachers at any of these schools teaching mathematics, English or even Tamil. Most of the teachers travel to Pungudutheevu from the Jaffna Peninsula. The bus from Jaffna reaches the island only around 11.00 a.m. making it difficult for classes to be held according to the usual school timetable.
This has forced the school to be supervised by mainly volunteer teachers of the area. In the event the volunteers being absent, students of the General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) class look after the younger school children.
The Department of Education of the Jaffna District advised the school to overcome the shortage of teachers by recruiting retired persons to the staff. But no one was available to fill the vacancies.
The high standard of education in the Jaffna District, which was proverbial during colonial times and in the first two decades of the post-independence era, led to quotas being imposed by Sri Lankan governments after 1972 on admission to universities to limit Tamils students entering the institutions of higher learning in the country.
Today, the war has led to tremendous pressure being put on students in the Jaffna District and automatically limiting students from pursuing their high school education.