Students await Tamil leadership to end discrimination

[TamilNet, Sunday, 09 June 2002, 02:05 GMT]
Discrimination by successive Sri Lankan governments at all levels of education can only be ended when a Tamil leadership assumes responsibility for education in the north and east, the Tamil Eelam Student Foundation said in a statement released to coincide with the ‘Day of Uprising of Tamil students’ on June 6.

"Education is bedrock of life. Civilized societies expend great care, energy and resources in educating their young generations. Understanding the primacy of education, Tamil students are determined to establish the foundation and chart the course of our own education," said the statement.

"Education not only enables one to acquire knowledge, but more importantly prepares the young generation to confront life's challenges effectively and promotes high ideals including affirmation of equality in political, economic, social and civil rights of all people.

"Countries that have made rapid economic progress have recognized the importance of education and have given highest priority to increase educational standards of its student population.

"Education of Tamil students have been neglected for the last several decades. Due to discriminatory policies of successive Sri Lankan governments of the past Tamils students have been denied their rights to basic education.

"Aid from International Agencies have primarily been used for advancing the educational standards and infrastructure of Sinhala students and schools; many Tamil schools during the same period have been destroyed and in recent years have been occupied by the state's armed forces to the detriment of Tamil school children.

"The situation of Tamil students in North and East of Sri Lanka is in contravention to UN's proclamation 'Equality for all in education.' Tamil students' education takes place under shady trees, in dilapidated buildings and abandoned road sides. For decades, writing material, chalk and even black paint for black-boards were banned items.

"Only when the world outside recognizes the systematic pattern of discrimination by the Sri Lankan governments can the Tamil students raise their heads with dignity and honor.

"Only 5% of Tamil students who complete high school have the opportunity to pursue University level education. Sri Lankan governments have been ignoring severe shortage of teachers in Tamil areas and consistently refuse to provide permanent positions to volunteer staff who constitute nearly 50% of the teaching staff in Tamil schools.

"Shortage in Tamil medium books, publication of books containing deliberate inaccuracies in historical facts, grammer and spelling mistakes form a pattern adopted by the Sinhala governments to systematically destroy education in Tamil schools.

"Tamil students have risen to combat this discrimination and have shown their frustration and anger by participating whole heartedly in Pongu Thamil celebrations to expose the Sri Lankan governments' ploys to destroy the Tamil educational system. Time has come for Tamil students to rise up.

"Tamil students should assume the responsibility to define the educational system they need. Through this process, we will demand that our homeland, our nationality and our right to self-determination be accepted and respected.

"Discrimination can be only eliminated when the Tamil leadership assumes control of our educational system. Only when students unite, we ac expect that grievances of students will be addressed, and our mission towards achieving Tamil homeland and self-rule can be successful."

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