A grade 7 class teacher of Vidyartha College Kandy has been accused of harassing, beating and torturing a child from the same class. According to reports, the teacher had even threatened to kill the child because the child’s parents had opposed the appointment of a treasurer to the school’s Parents Association on grounds that the treasurer who had held the position for many years was not carrying out the duties in an accountable manner. The victim’s father had then lodged a complaint with the police, however the police is yet to investigate the matter, despite the seriousness of the incident.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said that it had received information from Mr. K M M G Sudath about maltreatment of his oldest son. His child was tortured and harassed by his class teacher. Though he lodged a complaint with the Police, they have not investigated these fundamental rights violations. Later, his father made a complaint to several Educational Authorities. However, no investigation has yet been initiated. Presently the boy is not attending school due to continued harassments. The parents of the child seek justice for him.
IGP, Ministry of Law & Order and AG
According to AHRC, the victim (hereafter mentioned as ‘Child A’), is a student in grade 07 of Vidiyartha College Kandy. His younger brother is studying in grade 03 in the same school. The father is an entrepreneur who runs a small-scale business.
Child A’s class teacher, Ms. Himali Fernando, started harassing him because his parents were not in favor of the treasurer of the Parents’ Association. This parent held the position for many years without being held accountable.
On 16th February 2016, Child A, 11 years old, was assaulted by his class teacher with a CANE. She threatened to kill him if he said anything to his parents or any others about what was happening to him in her class. This beating was reported to the school Counselor. She was instrumental in covering up the incident and prevented the child from reporting it to the Principal.
However, the child’s mother noticed the scars on her child’s body while she was bathing him. The mother questioned the child about the scars. The child began to cry and spoke about the vindictiveness he suffered at the hands of his teacher. He specifically mentioned and identified the teacher by name. This entire incident was finally reported to the Principal. As a result, fearful? the class teacher Ms. Himali Fernando telephoned the child’s father and scolded him using filthy language.
His parents noticed that, with the continuing mental and physical harassment by the teacher, the child became discouraged in continuing his studies. He constantly expressed reluctance to attend school. After the Principal was informed about the harassments and the threats by the teacher, he did not take any positive measures to prevent this behavior in the future. No disciplinary action was taken against the teacher!
Finally, the parents decided to make a complaint to the Women & Child Bureau of the Kandy Headquarters Police Station. They lodged the complaint about the incident that took place on 16th February 2016, under reference W/CIB (2) 343/310. The parents of the child waited for the police authorities investigating the incident to take appropriate measures to provide justice for them. Needless to say, the complaint was neither investigated nor the accused warned. Instead, the police informed them that they were waiting for the Attorney General’s advice on how to proceed further with the case.
More than a month later, on the 30th March 2017, the Principal, Mr. Ranjith Rajapakse of Vidyaratha College, called for a meeting of the School Development Board. All the parents also attended the meeting. In the meeting the Principal publicly accused the parents, of two students, who had complained to the police about a teacher. He said that the good name of the school was diminished. He specifically requested the parents to take some action against the parents of these two students. During his speech, he clearly referred to the names of Sudath, his wife and the names of their children as well. Both Sudath and his wife were present at the meeting and recorded the Principal’s entire speech. Sudath made a further complaint to the Kandy Headquarters Police Station on the incident and informed the police about future threats leveled at them and their children. The complaint was recorded by the police under reference ACFB (1) 209/59. However, as expected, this complaint has not yet been investigated.
Later, dissatisfied, the parents went to the Kandy Regional Human Rights Commission (HRC).
Their complaint was recorded, reference HRC/K/187/17-A. The HRC has not initiated any investigation into the incident as of this date. Sudath made several other complaints to the Kandy Regional Director of Education and the Secretary of the Provincial Educational Ministry. He was looking for justice after his children and his family’s rights were violated. He made a suggestion to the authorities that they at least provide an alternative school for their children to continue their education. None of the above-mentioned authorities have started an investigation into his complaints.
Child A passed the scholarship exam in year 5. He was a competent child, excellent in his pursuit of educational and extra-curricula activities in the school. However, after experiencing the violent, unlawful series of incidents in school, he was reluctant to return there to study. At present, both of Sudath’s children are at home and not attending any school as a result of the clear violation of their basic rights to continue with their education. The Authorities, the Police and the Educational Department have continued the rights violations of the children by not investigating the crimes committed by the teacher and the Principal of the school. Sudath stated that the educational authorities are collectively working to protect their fellow teacher and the Principal of the school. His appeal for an alternative school for his two boys was rejected as well.
The rights of two children and their family were violated by the Educational and Police Authorities. The family demands justice.