Village rejects SLA school offer

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 July 2002, 04:55 GMT]
The people of Morakkoddanchenai, 26 kilometres north of Batticaloa, Monday rejected an offer by the Sri Lanka army to construct a new building for the village children's education instead of vacating the local school under the terms of Colombo's cease-fire agreement with the Liberation Tigers in February this year. The SLA has been occupying the Morakkoddanchenai Government Tamil Mixed School, public market, post office, library, village council, the local temple and scores of private homes in the heart of the village for more than 12 years.

A conference was held in Morakkoddanchenai Monday around 2 p.m. attended by two SLA officers, more than four hundred villagers, three education officials and the Divisional Secretary for Koralaipattu South to discuss the future of the school.

The SLA representative told the village public that said the military would continue to keep the school and its premises but would build a new school building for them.

The public strongly objected to the SLA's proposal.

Village representatives told the SLA that the makeshift shelters in which children were compelled to study after the SLA took over the Morakkoddanchenai school in 1990 had to be shifted from place to place five times in twelve years. "No one cared for the plight of our children then," one of them said, addressing the conference.

"The children of the village now study in a building on a land bought by the people of Morakkoddanchenai. The building was put up with assistance from the World Bank. But the school here has neither water nor basic amenities. The space available here is not adequate for rebuilding a new school for the village."

"Therefore how do you expect us to believe that the state, or education officials or the ministry of education, none of whom cared to take any interest in the predicament of our children and our school all these years, will deliver on the SLA's offer?" village leaders asked, speaking at the conference.

"By coming to a compromise as suggested by the SLA we might lose the school and eventually not get the new one which the army is promising to build for us," they said.

Village representatives said they are planning to send a memorandum on the matter to United National Front government, SLA, the SLMM and LTTE.


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