School reopened in Omanthai HSZ
[TamilNet, Thursday, 17 July 2003, 11:15 GMT]
"For the many children who were displaced, denied of basic education and forced to eke a living selling nuts along A9, this event marks an important turning point in their lives," said Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Vavuniya district Political Head, Sengathir, speaking at the opening ceremony of Omanthai Mahavidyalayam in the High Security Zone (HSZ), sources attending the function said.
Six years ago during the Sri Lanka Army's (SLA's) Jeya Sikurui offensive in Vanni Omanthai Mahavidyalayam was closed and temporarily functioned in Kovil Kunjukulam.
Vanni district parliamentarians K.Rajakuganeswaran, N.Sivasakthi Anandan joined Vanni district Government Agent (GA) k.Ganesh in ceremoniously opening the school building. School Principal M. Arasaratnam presided the opening event.
Northeast Commissioner of Education, Ms.V.R.A.Oswald, Assistant Commissioners of Education, Education Council Vavuniya District Head, S. Gnanam, President of Union of Civil Organizations, S.Thevakularajah, Vanni District Head of All Ceylon Tamil Congress, K.A.Senthilnathan, Function Organizer S.Gnanapragasam, several Education Officers, School Principals, Sri Lanka Military and Police officers, representatives of Mine Clearing NGOs, children, parents and residents of the area participated in the opening ceremony.
"Jeya Sikurui brought enormous hardship to people of this area. Many have to run for safety leaving their belongings ending up as refugees. Current climate of peace and the on-going rehabilitation show promise to bring normalcy to many shattered lives.
"However, there has been only limited progress to daily lives of war affected people even after six rounds of peace talks. Education has suffered while efforts to bring normalcy are delayed," added Sengathir.
GA Ganesh said that efforts are underway to completely rehabilitate the buildings of the school. He added that adequate funds are available through the Asia Development Bank's (ADB's) North East Community Restoration and Development Project (NECORD). Security forces have allowed functioning of the school and the Omanthai Hospital in their original premises and developent of Omanthai town will start soon, GA added.
Parliamentarians Rajakuganeswaran and Sivasakthi Anandan promised that they will provide every support to rebuild the school to its old state when the standard of Omanthai school was in par with the best schools in Vavuniya with a special student hostel.
Ms.Oswald said that the Omanthai Mahavidyalayam is the 59th school in the Vavuniya North Educational district that have started functioning in the original locations. Further, all schools in the Nedunkerni district have moved back to their original locations, Ms.Oswald added.