13 April, 2024

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Locals Petition Trustees Over Irregularities At Jaffna College

Colombo Telegraph has brought out several reports (Links: Report I, Report II, Report III) about the administrative malpractices at Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai since the fiduciary Trustees based in Boston who send money to the school reduced the funds allocated to Jaffna College for the first quarter of the year 2017 by 20% in January (Link: Letter). As we reported earlier, the Trustees reduced the allocations for the second quarter of 2017 as well by 20% (Link: Letter). In their last communication regarding reforms emailed to the Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Thiagarajah, the Chair of the Board of Directors, in July, the Trustees have expressed their dissatisfaction with the responses sent by the Board on the reforms they prescribed and conveyed their decision to reduce the funds for the third quarter of the year 2017 by 20% (Link: Letter). The Trustees also requested the Board to address the gaps in their responses before the 30th of September 2017. A decision on the allocation of funds for the last quarter of the year is still awaited.

Sumanthiran meets the Trustees in Boston

Bishop Daniel Thiagarajah

In the meantime, TNA Parliamentarian Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran met the Trustees in Boston when he was on an official visit to the US in September. Although an administrator of Jaffna College, who is often used by the leadership of the Board to manipulate the staff, alumni and the local community, was involved in spreading the rumor that Mr. Sumanthiran visited the Trustees at the latter’s request, the Trustees state they met Mr. Sumanthiran informally at the request of the Chairperson of the Board. A communication issued by the Trustees following the meeting indicates that matters related to Jaffna College and Uduvil Girls’ College were not discussed in detail at this meeting (Link: Letter). The Trustees have also clarified that their commitment to the goals of good governance and transparency at the two schools remain unchanged. Several old students of Jaffna College have condemned Mr. Sumanthiran’s unnecessary and biased involvement in the affairs of Jaffna College while appearing as the lawyer of the Chairperson of the Board in the court cases that the Chairperson is facing.

Locals petition the Trustees demanding an end to JDCSI domination

A few weeks ago, 210 locals from Vaddukoddai and neighboring villages who identify themselves as members of the communities that Batticotta Seminary and Jaffna College have served since the former’s inception in 1823 sent a petition to the Trustees about the administrative irregularities at Jaffna College (Link: Petition in Tamil, Link: English Translation of the Petition). In their statement, they have extended their support to the reforms prescribed by the Trustees. The petition notes that the community has lost faith in the current Board of Directors who, the signatories allege, are responsible for the mismanagement of the school.

M. A. Sumanthiran

The petitioners identify subject allocations, teacher recruitment, and the use of the College for the private business purposes of some administrators and teachers as some of the major problems that plague the school today. The petition sent by the community also notes that it is the private tuition centers rather than the school that helps their children obtain good grades in the public examinations. It thus repudiates the argument advanced by the Board and those who are close to it that it is because of the quality of education provided at Jaffna College that its students do well in public examinations conducted by the Department of Education.

The signatories have made it clear that Jaffna College should continue as a Christian institution, but as a non-denominational one that cannot be controlled by any single religious entity. The petition observes that concentration of powers in the hands of a few members of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (JDCSI) is the main reason for the problems that Jaffna College is facing today. The signatories also demand that the Trustees appoint a group of trustworthy individuals, which includes representatives from all the major Protestant churches in the North, eminent educationists, alumni and parents, to administer the funds sent to the school and that this body be eventually made the Board of Directors of Jaffna College replacing the current Board dominated by the JDCSI.

We reproduce below a long extract from the English translation of the petition (copies of the petition without the list of signatures were sent to various others including the Chief Minister and Minister of Education of the Northern Provincial Council and are now in circulation among the alumni) which details some of the current administrative problems at Jaffna College and the solutions proposed by the community:

Arbitrary decisions made by the Board of Directors of Jaffna College in the recent years have posed a threat to the integrity of the school and tarnished its reputation and image locally and globally. It is obvious that there have been many irregularities in the appointment of teachers for the past several years. Those who are close to the Board of Directors and their relatives have been employed at Jaffna College. Some teachers at Jaffna College are teaching our children subjects that they are not qualified to teach. For instance, those who obtained Science degrees are teaching in the Primary School. Subjects like English and Science in the senior school are taught by those who do not have appropriate qualifications or long-term training in teaching those subjects. Once Jaffna College was famous in the country for English education. But today, regrettably, those who teach English to our children lack basic qualifications in teaching the subject. The community finds it shocking that the administrators who handle the time table give no serious thought to the qualifications of the teachers when they make subject allocations. As the teachers fail to cover the whole syllabus within the stipulated timeframe, our children are forced to attend private tuition centers. As a result, they are unable to participate in extracurricular activities. It is the private tuition centers rather than the school that play a major role in helping our children obtain good grades in the public examinations today. The school has lost its purpose. Without proper upkeep, the buildings, laboratories and the playground remain neglected. We note with pain that some teachers even use the school for their private business purposes. 

Rajan Asirwatham

It is our firm belief that the quality of education provided by Jaffna College and the extracurricular activities conducted at the school will improve, if dedicated and competent persons are appointed to the Board, administration and faculty. This will also contribute to the development of our villages.   

We are aware that the Trustees, after carefully looking into the complaints about administrative malpractices that happened at Jaffna College in the recent past, reduced the funds allocated to Jaffna College for the first three quarters of the current year by 20%. You have also emphasized in your communications that the administration of the school and its Board should act in a democratic, transparent and truthful manner. The Board of Directors have not responded positively to many of your reasonable proposals for change; instead they are prolonging the deadlock in an irresponsible manner. The reforms that you have presented in your letters will lead to constructive changes. They are necessary for the development of the school and to preserve its integrity.   

You have repeatedly emphasized in your communications that the governance of the school should be conducted in a transparent manner. But the Board of Directors have not even provided a copy of the constitution of the Board to Mr. Kanagaratnam Sugash, the alumni representative to the Board and an eminent lawyer in Jaffna who hails from our village. We are aware that he made several requests for the copy of the constitution. This shows the lack of integrity on the part of the Board of Directors. We condemn this undemocratic conduct of the Board of Directors and note that at Jaffna College even the student leaders are elected democratically every year by the students of the school.    

In the meantime, we learn that parliamentarian Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran recently met some members of the Trustees of Jaffna College Funds in the US and held discussions with you on matters related to Jaffna College and its Board of Directors. Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran has no official connection with the school. He did not study at Jaffna College; nor had he shown any interest in the affairs of the school until recently. The decision to send someone who had no official role in the school to meet the Trustees reveals the dishonest nature of the Board of Directors. We are aware that Sumanthiran appears on behalf of the Chairman of the Board of Directors in the court cases that the latter is currently facing. We therefore consider Mr. Sumanthiran’s views on the school and the Board biased. 

Board members Dr. Chelvi Selliah, Mrs. Suganthy Vyrasinghe, Ms. Vijula Arulanantham and Rev. Pathmathayalan are based in Colombo. They do not engage the people in the village about their children’s education or the welfare of the school. Some of them come to Vaddukoddai only to attend the Board meetings. Ms. Vijula Arulanantham even tried to defend and justify the Board’s decision to change the long-standing tradition whereby the Principal of the College chaired the annual prize day. The meetings of the Board sometimes take place in Colombo. We wonder why the Board meetings of Jaffna College, a school situated at Vaddukoddai, should take place in Colombo.

When the Board comprises persons who come from different parts of the country, with diverse ideas, we agree that the school can benefit immensely from their expertise and experience. There is no doubt they can certainly contribute to the development of the school. But we suspect that the current Board nominates those who are outside of Jaffna, individuals who have no awareness of the history and the traditions of the College, and persons who have no understanding about and interest in the communities that benefit from the school as Board members with the hidden intention of weakening the local community’s stake in the affairs of the school. When people who do not interact well with the larger community that benefits from the school are appointed to the Board, it becomes difficult for us to bring the irregularities that happen at the school to the attention of the Board. This trend has made it possible for the leadership of the Board and a few other dominant individuals to act the according to their whims and fancies with sheer disregard for transparency and without a sense of responsibility towards the larger community.   

Jaffna College has contributed in many ways to the creation of a healthy environment in Vaddukoddai and the neighboring villages where Hindus and Christians could stand shoulder to shoulder and show respect towards one another in their everyday lives without threatening the diversity of the region. We are aware that the Board in their responses to your communications tends to create the impression that some of the reforms that you have presented are not appropriate for a Christian institution. We consider this as a tactic to cover up their dishonest practices.   

We, the people of Vaddukoddai, desire Jaffna College to continue as a Christian institution that gives importance to such values as love, mercy, honesty, truthfulness, respect for all and inclusiveness that Christianity upholds. We would like to note that even when the school was governed by trustworthy Boards in the past, it remained as a Christian institution.   

The people of Vaddukoddai and the neighboring villages who have been historically benefitted from the educational services offered by Jaffna College have lost faith in the current Board. Today, the Board has become a place for individuals who are dishonest and involved in corruption. Therefore, we, the people of Vaddukoddai, believe the Trustees should send their funds to the school through an alternative group of trustworthy individuals. It is our wish that an alternative body of this kind should eventually become the Board that governs Jaffna College.   

When Jaffna College was founded as a result of the efforts made by the people in the North, it was envisioned as a non-denominational Christian institution. The 1894 founding charter of the school states this vision clearly. Yet, over time, a majority of the positions on the Board came to be held by members of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India. The main reason for the problems that the school is facing today is that the powers of the Board are concentrated in the hands of a few members of a single church. In order to address some of the current administrative problems, Jaffna College should again be made a non-denominational Christian institute that cannot be monopolized by any of the churches in the future. The body that would govern the school in the future should include members of all the major Protestant churches in the North.   

This body should also include educationists. Many alumni of Jaffna College today work as academics at the University of Jaffna and other universities in Sri Lanka. Many others serve as Principals at state-run schools and officers and directors of Education at various levels. Some have retired after rendering their educational services for several decades. These educationists, too, can offer guidance to the administration of the College. Bankers among the alumni can assist the school in financial administration. Alumni members with expertise in Law can offer legal counsel to the school whenever needed. The school may also receive the services of those who are involved in human rights and social justice activism for its development. 

It is not necessary that all members of the governing body of the school should be alumni of the College. Parents must be allowed to play their due role in the new body. Towards this end, a Parents’ Association should be established at Jaffna College. 

Our community has many competent and honest persons with innovative thinking who can lead the school in line with the Christian values that it upheld in the past. We firmly believe they can take Jaffna College to greater heights. Such persons have no place in the Board of Directors today. While there are many such people in our community, this historically important educational institution is now regrettably in the hands of a group of individuals who are arrogant, selfish and have no concern for the school and the community that it caters to. Those of us from the region who have received education from this institution for several generations are saddened to see the current predicament of the school. We kindly request you to take all efforts to ensure that the school’s Board is in the safe hands of responsible persons. Only a change of this kind can usher in a progressive era at Jaffna College. In closing this message, we wish to state that we will certainly support all the efforts taken by the Trustees towards bringing about this change.

Enter Rajan Asirwatham

We reliably learn that Rajan Asirwatham, a prominent member of the Anglican Church, has been appointed to the Board of Directors. Asirwatham’s appointment has created mixed feelings among the alumni. Some argue that the appointment of eminent persons who are based in Colombo and are unaware of the malpractices in such areas as subject allocation and teacher recruitment will be used to create a positive image of the Board among the public and the Trustees. Others, who are optimistic, say that Asirwatham’s presence in the Board will force the other members, especially the leadership of the Board, to act in a more responsible way leading to changes in the Board’s conduct.

Irregularities in recruitment and subject allocations

At least eight teachers have been recruited since January 2014 when Rev. Dr. Solomon became the Principal of Jaffna College and many of them are teaching subjects that they are not qualified to teach in the Primary and Senior Schools today. Parents and the local community complain that the needs of the school were not taken into consideration when teachers were recruited. Instead, the Board of Directors and the present and past administrators of the school have filled up the carder positions with those who are close to them, their relatives, friends and children of retired teachers. It should be noted that a section of such recruits are Hindus. As a result, there is an excess of teachers for certain subjects whereas shortages have been observed for a long period of time for other subjects.

The following examples demonstrate this trend beyond doubt:

  1. Persons who are qualified in Carnatic Music and Bharatha Natyam are teaching Tamil to students in Grade 6 and 7 classes.
  2. English is taught to students in eleven out of the eighteen class divisions in Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 by persons who are not qualified to teach the subject.
  3. Media Studies and Agriculture in the GCE AL classes are taught by teachers who do not have degrees in those subjects.
  4. A person who obtained a diploma from the School of Agriculture in Kundasale is teaching science in the senior school to students in Grades 7, 8 and 9.
  5. Another teacher who is well-qualified in and has been teaching Home Economics and related subjects for more than three decades is now asked to teach Geography in addition to Home Economics.
  6. A recent B.Sc. graduate from the University of Colombo is teaching English in the Primary School while a person who was originally recruited as a non-academic staff and worked in the office for several years is now teaching Mathematics in the senior school, even though the latter has no proper qualifications in Mathematics. (A few others who were originally recruited as non-academic staff to work in the office, laboratories and library, due to their proximity to the administrators and Board members, were later given teaching assignments in both the senior school and primary school upon or before completion of their degrees.)
  7. A person who does not have any post-GCE A/L qualifications is teaching History and Civics in the senior school.
  8. Many teachers in the Primary School do not have a diploma in teaching Primary Education; nor have they undergone any training in that field.

It should be noted that some of these appointments and unscrupulous promotions were made during the tenure of the immediate past Principal of the school. But many members of the current Board including Bishop Thiagarajah, Ms. Vijula Arulanantham, Dr. Chelvi Selliah and Mrs. Indra Thavanayagam were serving the Board when the decisions to recruit and promote some of the above candidates were made.

It has also been confirmed that a few members of the teaching staff of Jaffna College do not have three (four in the old system) passes in the GCE A/L examination in one sitting. But they are paid a very high salary by the Board. We are also told that one or two persons sat for the GCE A/L examination and obtained three passes after being recruited to teach at Jaffna College.   

As a temporary measure to overcome shortages, trainees from the College of Education are invited annually to teach subjects like Science and Mathematics in the Senior School. But they teach at Jaffna College during the first two terms and the crisis resurfaces in the third term when their training period ends. The Trustees have requested the Board to include in the selection panel at least one officer appointed by the Ministry of Education to oversee recruitment. But the letter sent by the Trustees in July suggests that the Board is reluctant to follow this recommendation and wants to appoint only internal members to the recruitment committee. The Trustees’ letter says “the committee of three internal people [proposed by the Board] lacks the perspective of third party educational professionals that [the Trustees] have suggested”.

The alumni, parents, and the locals of Vaddukoddai and neighboring villagers say that the Trustees should ensure that qualified persons will be recruited to the teaching staff of Jaffna College in the future and that recruitment should be done on the basis of the needs and shortages observed at a given time rather than the personal preferences of the Board or senior administrators of the College. They also insist that the administrator who handles subject allocations and the time table give importance to the qualifications of the teachers.   

Availability of the minutes of Board meetings to the alumni

A newsletter was published recently by Jaffna College for its alumni all over the world (Link: Newsletter). In his message to the newsletter the Chair of the Board states that the alumni can view the minutes of the Board meetings in the Principal’s Office. When old students of the College approached the Principal to access the minutes, they were told they could view the minutes of the meetings held in 2014 and before, and that too only with the approval of the Chair of the Board. Sections of the alumni think that the newsletter has been used by the school to conduct a false propaganda among the Trustees and the larger community that the Board is transparent in its activities.

150th Anniversary Events

The Board’s decision to sponsor a workshop on creating a global alumni body and an endowment fund for the school during the proposed events in November to mark the 150th of anniversary of the public meeting held at Vaddukoddai in 1867 that led to the funding of Jaffna College in 1872 has angered the alumni (Link: Invitation). Colombo Telegraph learns that the Executive Committee of the Jaffna College Alumni Association (Parent Body) has declined to participate in these workshops; instead, it has demanded the Board to implement the reforms prescribed by the Trustees without further delay. Some alumni are of the view that the right thing for the Board to do at this juncture is making its activities transparent and democratic rather than indulge in splitting the alumni associations and resort to diversionary tactics that will not lead to a solution to the financial crisis the school has been facing for the past 10 months following the reduction of funds by the Trustees.

Code of conduct and violations

Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that a code of conduct was issued to the teachers recently. According to the document which the teachers were asked to sign, teachers are barred from conducting fee-for-service or private business activities that engage students as clients. However, in practice, some teachers continue to use the school for their private business purposes such as photography and catering. The conflicts of interests in these cases were repeatedly pointed out to the Board of Directors in the past but they have taken no steps to stop these practices.

Although the code of conduct prohibits the use of physical punishment, parents complain that students at Jaffna College are physically abused by some of their teachers. Recently, one such incident was reported to the Zonal Education Office in Valikamam. The Zonal Education Office has issued a warning to the teacher concerned. The code of conduct that is not properly implemented is another attempt on the part of the Board to defraud the public and the Trustees. A section of the old students expect that Mr. Rajan Asirwatham, the newest member of the Board, will give due attention to these matters and push the Board to put an end to these practices that tarnish Jaffna College’s reputation at present.

Constitution of the Board

We recently learned that a copy of the Constitution of the Board of Directors has been finally given to the Alumni Representative. In the meantime, the week that ended yesterday saw a constitution dated 10 October 2014 surface among the alumni (Link: Constitution 2014). It should be noted that the Chair of the Trustees Rev. Rick Huleatt mentioned in his letter (dated 17 July 2017) to the Chair of the Board that the Trustees were in receipt of the Constitution of the Board adopted on 10 October 2014. Alumni of Jaffna College that Colombo Telegraph spoke to recently have highlighted the following as the most important differences between the 2014 constitution and the one that was adopted in 1989 (Link: Constitution 1989). They also said the latest constitution they had been in possession of till the 2014 version was in circulation was the one that was adopted in 1989. We offer below some key differences between the 1989 and 2014 constitutions:

Articles and clauses newly introduced in the 2014 Constitution:

1. Jaffna College Undergraduate Department is brought under the constitution of the Jaffna College Board of Directors. All the moveable and immoveable assets of the Undergraduate Department of Jaffna College will vest in the Board of Directors of Jaffna College (Article V – e in the 2014 constitution)

2. A new provision to appoint any number of Deputy Principals and Vice Principals (See Article V – f in the 2014 constitution)

3. The Bishop of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India shall be the Chairperson of the Board by virtue of office. (Article VI – 1 in the 2014 constitution)

4. The Officers of the Board (Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer) may meet and take suitable action in the absence of meetings of the Executive Committee or of the Board, provided all such decisions are ratified by the Board at the next succeeding meeting of the Board. (Article VI – c in the 2014 constitution)

5. The following additions appear in the section on the byelaws:

*The Treasurer of the Board shall be the custodian of all funds belonging to the Board and shall receive all monies due from the Trustees or from other sources. He shall allocate to the College or for other activities under the oversight of the Board of Directors all funds provided in the Budget or as approved by a decision of the Board or Executive Committee.

*Correspondence/Communication with the Trustees: The Chairperson shall have sole responsibility for all correspondence/communications with the Trustees of Jaffna College Funds (TJCF) with regard to Policy, Finance and other related matters. Such correspondence/communication may be done in consultation with relevant persons as appointed by the Board and with regular reports to the Board. 

*Bank Accounts: The Board of Directors shall appoint the persons who will be authorized to operate Bank Accounts. (Some alumni are concerned about the inclusion of this clause which allows even those who are not members of the Board and have no connection to the school to operate the bank accounts)

Changes:

1. 1989: At least 50% of the Board members should be Sri Lankan Tamils (Article V)

2014: At least 50% of the Board members should be Sri Lankans (Article VI)

2. 1989: The Executive Committee shall present the full report of their work (Article IX – 2)

2014: The Manager shall present the full report of the work of the Executive Committee (Article VIII – b) (Note: The Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Thiagarajah is both the Chairperson of the Board and the Manager of the school at present.

Repeal:

The clause (Byelaw 6 in the 1989 constitution) whereby the Principal chaired the Prize Day and other functions has been repealed in the 2014 constitution.

For the first time in the history of Jaffna College, the Chair of the Board presided over the Prize Day in 2015. Many teachers of the school boycotted the Prize Day dinner as a mark of protest. The Prize Day program in 2016, 2017 mentioned the Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Thiagarajah as the Chairperson, though he was not present at the Prize Day.

In our first report on Jaffna College, we released a leaked constitution of the Board of Directors of Jaffna College adopted on the 26th of February 2015 (Link: Constitution 2015). The version that is now being circulated states that it was adopted on the 10th of October 2014. There are significant differences between these two versions of the Constitution. The following Articles and clauses that appear in the 2015 version are missing in the 2014 version:

1. Article IV – d: The Diocesan Council shall elect six (five according to the 2014 version) persons to the Board of Directors.

2. Article XI: The Principal shall be the chief executive of the College and shall be subject to and answerable to the Board.

3. Article XIX: The Board may appoint committees and sub-committees for the due administration of the College, its infrastructure and Assets. The Schedule includes the following committees: 

1. Infrastructure Committee

2. Admissions Committee

3. Academic Advisory Committee

4. Article XIV – Finance 

(ii) The Treasurer shall present the annual budget prepared in consultation with the Executive Committee 

(iii) The Treasurer shall be one of the signatories to the Bank Accounts of the College 

(iv) The Treasurer shall be responsible for presenting the annual audited accounts and balance sheet to the Executive Committee for approval and adoption by the Board 

(v) The Treasurer shall be responsible for the disbursement of funds according to budget allocations, to the College, to the Institutions specified in Article V (e) above and to the Board on the direction of the Board 

(vi) The Treasurer shall ensure the maintenance of proper Accounts and arrange for their audit annually by an Auditor duly appointed by the Board. 

5. Article XVI: The Board of Directors has the right to grant scholarships to deserving students.  

The existence of two constitutions, one dated 26 February 2015 and the other 10 October 2014, have made some alumni think the constitution was in fact amended on the 26th of February 2015, contrary to what was communicated to the Trustees by the Board, but was retroactively and unscrupulously amended again before it was sent to the Trustees in June this year. The people of Vaddukoddai and alumni that our reporters spoke to say that the Trustees should help the public and well-wishers get a copy of the current constitution of the Board authorized and signed by the officers of the Board including the Chairperson and the Secretary. They also note that an authorized copy of the Constitution should be uploaded on the Jaffna College website so that it could be accessed by the alumni who are living abroad as well.

The amendments that figure in both the 2014 and 2015 versions of the constitution indicate that the Principal’s autonomy is under assault and that the Board, which is currently headed by the Bishop of the JDCSI who is also the manager of the College, is all out to make Jaffna College a JDCSI institution which it never was. It is in this context that one should understand the community and alumni’s demand to liberate Jaffna College from the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India and make it a multi-denominational Christian institution run by a Board comprising trustworthy Christian leaders from multiple Protestant denominations, educationists, social activists, alumni, parents and representatives of the local communities that the school caters to.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    I was a student of Jaffna College Undergraduate Dept. in 1961 where I studied for my London A.Ls. I was one of the three Sinhalese students and we were very well-received. We were never identified as a Sinhalese or non-Sinhalese, just a young student. It was well-maintained with manicured gardens (despite lack of rain), the school buildings were clean and so were the other areas. The labs, library etc were pretty good. The men in charge were Dr. Bunker, Mr. Lockwood etc and Mr.Bavink was a very special friend of mine.

    A few months ago I visited the college. I was not too impressed.

    I have very happy memories of this period and wish the school every success.

  • 4
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    It is widely discussed among JC circles that Rev. John K Bottomley and Mrs Margaret Neith, two Australian missionaries, are involved in covering up the corruption at Jaffna College and Uduvil Girls’ College. The Principal of JC has introduced them at a function as “Advisers to the Board.” This is an example of colonialist ideology and local elitism collaborating to destroy a school that has benefited the local population of Jaffna for nearly 195 years. The alumni should document all the cases mentioned in the report with names and other details and send that document to the Trustees and the media. If Rev Bottomley and Mrs Neith are genuinely interested in helping the school, they should use their connections with Bishop Thiagarajah to change the system recruitment in particular. They should advice Bishop Thiagarajah to not give unbridled freedom to the Deputy Principal Mr A C Francis to do what he wants. They should recommend Bishop Thiagarajah to drop non-contributing Board members like Miss Chelvi Selliah and Mrs Suganthy Vyrasinghe from the Board and include more active people who can understand the problems in the school.

  • 7
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    I couldn’t keep silent without commenting of the past of this ” Gem of A School ” in the village of Vaddukoddai.
    Students from this Institution excelled in every walks of lives.
    Sad to hear of the dire situation prevailing within the Board.
    Wish the School every success .
    May it Shine again as it did during the 40s To 70s.

  • 11
    1

    Mr Sumanthiran , Sambanthan and the CM should find out the cause of the Mother and 3 children who had committed suicide by consuming poisoned Ice cream.
    The husband of the woman too had committed suicide a month ago due to Debt worries as per News Article.

    It’s a shame we do not see or hear any of the Northern Politicians showing any interest what so ever
    of the plight of these POOR DESPERATE FAMILIES.

    UNEMPLOYMENT AND LACK OF RESOURCES ARE THE CAUSE OF THIS KIND OF MISERY.
    Is it not one too many of Suicides??

    Northern Politicians !! Lining your own pockets with state wealth is another matter , please look after your OWN PEOPLE FIRST WHO ARE DESPERATE.

  • 8
    4

    So, even the Church is corrupt. Tamils are naturally corrpt. Nothing new.

  • 3
    3

    Is Ariyalai one the strong Army camp base? Are there Police or Army harassment??
    What’s the cause of this Young Family to commit Suicide.
    Northern Politicians open your eyes and ears to investigate what’s going on??

    You will get voted in again if you care for your own .

    • 1
      1

      analyst
      Same story again! Sinhalese are the cause for all problems of the Tamils. Right?
      This family should have learned Sinhalese and moved south and improved their lives. Sinhalese always welcome Tamils (non-terrorist) as neighbors.
      My advice to all Tamils; Learn Sinhalese, it is not going to heart you

    • 0
      2

      These problems go away if all the Tamils are HIndus. Even from the beginning Christians were corrupt and they sacrificed Jesus. so, they continue it. Just convert to Hindu.

  • 7
    4

    What you hear you cannot believe.. You cannot change the Jaffna Tamil. Always finding fault with other person.. It is in their blood.

    • 1
      1

      When one becomes too big of a Size forgets where the roots from???
      Sorry!!!

  • 7
    1

    It is disappointing that Sumanthiran who is a relative of Thiyagarajah is aiding and abetting the bishop who is an absolute corrupt criminal in my opinion. It was a great school when I was there in the late 60s and early 70s managed by very honest administrators. I visited the school in late 2015 after almost 40 years and I couldn’t stop crying within myself. These criminals present and the past have brought the noble institution to its lowest point possible. Kick the son if a gun called the bishop out of the picture first and we may see some change for the better.

  • 7
    1

    A timely petition. Bringing people from Colombo or from Sumanthiran’s office, with a reputation for supporting cracking establishments, rather than solving problems imaginatively, is going to deepen the crisis rather than do any good. The problem as appears from Jaffna is that the Jaffna College Constitution has been so manipulated since Bishop Kulandran’s retirement that Bishop Thiagarajah now has dictatorial control over all the Church institutions, including appointments and finances. He rules the Jaffna College Board with an iron hand, which includes the Technical Institute. The strain on the Bishop must be very great. He has now put Sumanthiran’s legal assistant Vijula Arulanantham in charge of the Technical Institute. Its Council which once had several experienced engineers has been made defunct for a long time. What Vijula can contribute is a mystery: Selling real estate?
    An insider and former bishop told some friends that meddling with the Jaffna College College Constitution, to make the Bishop all-powerful, started by Bishop Ambalavanar has been carried to its logical extreme by Thiagarajah.
    A deep and less-known consequence of so empowering one man, by promoting sycophants, is the split in the church, and now the Church has no money to pay retired priests! Several priests, including a former bishop, who gave the best part of their life to the church have stopped receiving their pensions from the middle of 2016 and are in a pathetic situation, unable to make ends meet. What would we say about the government of Sri Lanka if it stops paying the pensions of former government servants? That is the state of the CSI Church and Jaffna College. It needs thinkers and problem solvers and not lawyers and persons from the Colombo establishment with dubious credentials.

    • 1
      1

      Bishop Kulendran retired as Chairman of the Board in 1985. The 1989 constitution being referred to could be the work of his successor.

  • 3
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    I heard the following about Rev Bottomley.

    1. He and his wife visit Vaddukoddai annually and spend a few months – some say they are involved in some church projects but College housing is given to them. Maybe they do some teaching seminars/workshops at Jaffna College too?
    2. The staff quarters near Bunker Hall were refurbished and air-conditioned at the cost of nearly 3 million rupees for the use of the Bottomley-Neith couple in 2014. (The Principal agreed to give these staff quarters for the use of Ms. Vasuki Rajasingam in 2014 when she was appointed as Vice Principal. But when the Bishop came back from his overseas trip he cancelled the Principal’s decision. The following week the staff quarters were given to the use of the relatives of Rev Antony who came to Vaddukoddai to attend the puberty ceremony of Rev Antony’s daughter. College housing is used for church purposes.)
    3. Bottomley and Neith were also seen reading the minutes of the Board meetings for a long time in the staff room and taking down notes
    4. Some say they are the ones who prepared the code of conduct
    5. Some even say they are the ones who prepare the responses to the Trustees (constitution of 2014 says the Board can prepare their communications with the Trustees in consultation with people the Board appoints – probably Bottomley and Neith are the consultants to the Board?)
    6. In 2015 they were the Chief Guests at the Prize Day which was chaired by the Bishop in his capacity as Chairman of the Board where the Principal’s role was reduced to reading aloud the Prize Day report.

    • 3
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      The Bottomleys have been doing quite a good job at Jaffna College. Margaret has brought in several boxes of books for the Junior Library and has been helping along with the English programme. Not sure about their role with the Church.

      • 2
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        Donald,

        What you have posted here may be correct. A quick search on the internet tells you that B and N are involved in some projects for the JDCSI. I appreciate that they are supporting the English programme and the junior library.

        What I find problematic is their role as “Advisers to the Board.” My question is why does the Board need advisers when the Board itself is expected to advise the administration of the school? If it is true that B and N are preparing the responses sent to the Trustees, doesn’t it mean that the Board members do not have the necessary skills and aptitude to respond to the Trustees? In a way, B and N aid Bishop Thiagarajah to appoint mediocre people to the Board by accepting the responsibility of writing the responses to the Trustees. There were allegations that the Alumni Rep’s views were not taken into account when the responses were prepared early this year.

        People are saying that the invitation sent to the alumni about the 150th anniversary events was prepared by B and N and the alumni newsletter was also edited by either B or N although the newsletter mentions one of the VPs as the editor. What it shows is that the school and the Board could be run with the help of some external people like B and N, and there is no need to recruit people with good English language skills. That is corruption in my opinion.

      • 0
        2

        Tamils don’t like Sinhala people there. they sy Sinhalization Even the Dalit priest, Wigneswaran wants even Sinhala doctors out. Yet, we here,they favorites past colonil masters screwing up them, austrlian missionaries hiding their corruption. Even a box of books are gold for them. Army saved 350,000 of them. Army released 12,000 of their killers. sinhala people supported. but, white colonial master who screws up their civilization is grand and the sinhala people who saved them and the gave them a life are a worst lot and should be prosecuted in Gneneva. TYPICL TAMILS. that is why dead Tamils are always good people.

  • 2
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    Does bishop play any part in running the hospital in Manipay and Inuvil?

    • 1
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      I think so. He is like an octopus with hands all over where money can be misused & put into his cassock. Here too no receipts presented for funds sent.

  • 2
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    “Recently, one such incident was reported to the Zonal Education Office in Valikamam. The Zonal Education Office has issued a warning to the teacher concerned. The code of conduct that is not properly implemented is another attempt on the part of the Board to defraud the public and the Trustees.”
    @
    Since others have been named in the report and in the comments why not name this person also? The teacher who received a warning for repeated abuse of children is called Selvarajah Sutharson. He is a scout leader and has received awards from the SL scouts. Has the national scouting movement been informed of how badly this teacher has been in contradiction of the policy of scouts against child abuse? This is not an alleged case.
    @
    What have the Board of Directors and the Principal of Jaffna College done in this case?
    @
    Have the Trustees been informed of continuing child abuse at the school?

    • 5
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      Asha,

      “Has the national scouting movement been informed of how badly this teacher has been in contradiction of the policy of scouts against child abuse?”
      .
      The Zonal Education Office is unlikely to have officially informed outsiders of this warning. However Jaffna is a small place and local scouts will receive the bad news sooner or later. Jaffna College is definitely not going to want any publicity for child abuse considering all the bad PR they already face.
      .
      If you or others have a copy of the warning please send it to the Sri Lanka Scout Association. Contacts can be found at http://www.scout.lk

  • 2
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    Honorable M. A. Sumanthiran,

    Please include counseling in the area of laws protecting children when you advice the Directors of Jaffna College and Uduvil.
    @
    Thank you.

  • 12
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    CT Jaffna Desk,

    Thank you for following up this case or maybe better say these cases. You have spent a lot of time collecting information and can provide sources.
    .
    “Several old students of Jaffna College have condemned Mr. Sumanthiran’s unnecessary and biased involvement in the affairs of Jaffna College while appearing as the lawyer of the Chairperson of the Board in the court cases that the Chairperson is facing.”

    Can you or others please provide details on the court cases of the Bishop/Chairman/Manager Dr Thiagarajah?

  • 10
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    Trustees for Jaffna College,

    Thank you for your action. Change takes time but maybe a bigger cut would help to achieve it faster.

  • 6
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    There is a saying in Tamil which roughly translated is “The subjects take to the ways of the king”. SL is a good example: Those in power are corrupt and corruption has seeped horizontally into lawmakers, law enforcers like police & armed services and vertically down every strata of Lankan society.
    Did “Sinhala Only” uplift rural schools? Did the “standardisation”? Admission to Colombo schools has become goldmines to the politically powerful.
    In the news ~ “Locals Petition Trustees Over Irregularities At Jaffna”, the word “irregularities” is a euphemistic term for “corruption”. Sumanthiran’s involvement confirms that corruption has taken hold of Jaffna College but a question is “When did it start?”.
    There is a difference here. The locals are trying to put things right via petitions and the like. In the other parts of the country the politicians have conditioned the people to accept this as part of life.
    The bane of Lanka is corruption & nepotism and NOT the language/religion divide.

  • 1
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    Unbelieveble> they are discussing conseative Dravidean culture who rejected Aryans and every relatd to Aryans. Instead, they are discussing their middle eastern culture and related things MY FOOT…. Everything Tamil.

  • 1
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    It should be borne in mind that the problems faced by Jaffna College have been coming for several decades. Too much attention focussed on Thiagarajah is not going to achieve anything. Jaffna College attained to the height of its fame during the middle decades of the last century because students were exposed to real scholars and scholarship – the famed Bicknell era. Hardly any of the schools in the island have scholars in charge at present. It is also part of the poverty of our universities today which needs no elaboration. Good scholars and persons of high intellectual calibre are generally regarded with hostility. Jaffna College had a rare opportunity in getting a scholar of the calibre of Vasuki Rajasingam. She was turned down rudely after first being accepted. She was even refused a visiting lecturership at the University of Jaffna to teach English Literature. The place has already been captured by persons antagonistic to quality.
    One doesn’t see much hope for Jaffna College unless its former alumni who have made their mark abroad come back to serve. We need not waste our energy beating a lame horse and ordering it to run. After all, many of those who went abroad benefited from the patronage of missions. Alternatively, the Trustees Board need to send us scholars from America.

  • 6
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    Thank you for reporting about the problems of Jaffna College. I did not know that the situation is as bad as described but after talking with other parents and students I agree.

    What can be done?

    The Trustees and Alumni have correctly identified the need for an independent Board taking the leadership of developing the school.

    I was chocked to learn from the comments that 30 lakh have been spent refurbishing a single flat. Even more was spent recently to buy a car for the principal. These decisions were made while many buildings of the school are unpleasant or even dangerous due to lack of repairs. The toilets stink and it is impossible to be near them on the road. There are about 10 working computers for all of the students and even they are becoming old. Whoever decided to spend money on a luxury flat and a car must have hoped for alumni funds for repairs so that money from the parents and Trustees can be spent on needless luxury for very few.

    Many teachers are not teaching the correct subject. Many teachers are not qualified at all to teach. This cannot continue.They should be encouraged to study and become qualified or leave the school. When unqualified teachers reach retirement age their service should not be extended. Only qualified new teachers should be appointed. With all the Trustee money the school should be able to attract good teachers. Nepotism should not be allowed,

    With some other parents we have discovered that about half of the teachers of our children are not competent to teach the subject they are teaching. Several of the teachers of our children have no qualification that we know of. We have paid admission and annual fees and expect better teachers in the future.

    There must be an association of the parents to put pressure on the school.
    We never heard of a Code of Conduct. Where can we find it? What is the point of having a Code of Conduct if it is not enforced?

    • 3
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      Thank you parent for sharing your views on the issue. Parents, alumni and the community need to work together to find a solution to the crisis that Jaffna College is in.
      Hope the Trustees will take your voice seriously.

      • 2
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        Maran,

        “Hope the Trustees will take your voice seriously.”

        Are you sure they read Colombo Telegraph?

        • 3
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          I think that THEY would read CT.

          However, dear “Parent”, you’ve made a good point. It is easy for us to exaggerate the importance of our comments on CT.

          *

          I know that many read only the main article. So many comments are frivolous, and most are anonymous. Quite a few use more than one “handle”. There is a tendency to ignore what is anonymous. I stick to handle, and I have scattered proof of my actual name in various places.

          But articles and comments come mostly from English educated (therefore not the very poor) elderly people, so we’ve got to find ways of making ourselves credible to our society as a whole.

          *

          However, I can assure you that anybody glancing at the comments will spend a good deal of time pondering on what a “Parent” has to say, or a “Teacher”. We all know how vulnerable you are. I’ve had first hand experience with S. Thomas’. Neither category will speak out because of fear. The next problem is that what they say is skewed. They want favours for their children, or for themselves, respectively.

          *

          In the case of S. Thomas Preparatory School, Kollupitiya, I didn’t know the school much (although the Board once wanted to make me the Headmaster there once – about 1992. I think that this last statement of mine will surprise some, but I feel that it is now known that I don’t tell lies! In any case, I still have an aerogramme sent me by the then Secretary, Alex Wijesinghe, asking if I”d be interested). Well, the Parent comments have told me much, and I took them very seriously.

          *

          I was not selected, but Cassie-Chetty was. I think it would have been about 1994 (could be easily checked, but why bother?) Well, he ran it as a closed society, but he was honest with actual accounts. Two main complaints against him: 1. He was a snob (mind the teachers were by and large happy because he safeguarded them, and even the support staff). 2. He had this phobia about anything modern. No computers in the school; he himself had no mobile phone.

          More could be given, if you want it in summary form, but most of it came out in the comments on those articles.

          I could either send this link to Rev. Huleatt, whose gmail address I have.

          *

          To be continued . . .

          • 1
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            Sinhala Man,

            “I could either send this link to Rev. Huleatt, whose gmail address I have.”

            The trustees have a new president called Edward Bedrosian. He also uses gmail.

            • 1
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              Edward Bedrosian’s email address could be found on page 10 of this PDF. http://www.wellesleyvillagechurch.org/sites/default/files/FW%202.17.13%201st%20Sunday%20Lent.pdf

              • 1
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                Thanks, it may be that I can vouch for certain things, but really, it’s you who can best present your own case. Yes, I have looked at page 10.

                *
                I guess my comments could be of some some use, but what I’m trying to do is mainly to provide moral support.

          • 0
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            A few last words . . .

            *

            It was difficult to get any information about the staff of S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Kollupitiya. It is a fortified castle. Readers should search for a school website. There is none. Names of teachers don’t get displayed anywhere; the other three Thomian Schools are quite different in that respect.

            *

            The Old Boys have a website:

            http://www.prepobu.lk/

            *

            However, there was this on Facebook:

            https://www.facebook.com/STPSSL/posts/10153387259388553

            There I found a list of 38 of the most senior staff. To all of them I posted, in January 2016, at the rate of three each day, the respectful letter that I had written to the Bishop, the Board, and the Headmasters, in November 2015. It announced my candidature to represent the Branch School Staff. Posted to the school, most would have been intercepted, although you will find in the comments of some Alumni-Parents, the observation that a few letters had actually got through.

            In Jaffna, people would probably know one another.

            *

            Getting in to the school in 2012 was difficult with Cassie-Chetty around, but I did get past the Security by demonstrating that I knew him. He threw me out saying that I was not a suitable person! He would decide for the staff.

            *

            Rev. Dushyantha Rodrigo was more affable. In December 2015, I went for their Christmas Carol Service, armed with a sheaf of those respectful letters (I’ve not known how to put a copy of it on the Internet), but the good padre said that they shouldn’t be distributed since the staff knew nothing of their having representation on the BoG.

            *

            These CT articles are proof that you, in Jaffna, have succeeded in organising yourselves, even if you are not represented on the Board. Well done!

          • 0
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            A few last words . . .

            *

            It was difficult to get any information about the staff of S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Kollupitiya. It is a fortified castle. Readers should search for a school website. There is none. Names of teachers don’t get displayed anywhere; the other three Thomian Schools are quite different in that respect.

            *

            The Old Boys have a website:

            http://www.prepobu.lk/

            *

            However, there was this on Facebook:

            https://www.facebook.com/STPSSL/posts/10153387259388553

            There I found a list of 38 of the most senior staff. To all of them I posted, in January 2016, at the rate of three each day, the respectful letter that I had written to the Bishop, the Board, and the Headmasters, in November 2015. It announced my candidature to represent the Branch School Staff. Posted to the school, most would have been intercepted, although you will find in the comments of some Alumni-Parents, the observation that a few letters had actually got through.

            In Jaffna, people would probably know one another.

            *

            Getting in to the school in 2012 was difficult with Cassie-Chetty around, but I did get past the Security by demonstrating that I knew him. He threw me out saying that I was not a suitable person. He would decide for the staff!

            *

            Rev. Dushyantha Rodrigo was more affable. In December 2015, I went for their Christmas Carol Service, armed with a sheaf of those respectful letters (I’ve not known how to put a copy of it on the Internet), but the good padre said that they shouldn’t be distributed since the staff knew nothing of their having representation on the BoG.

            *

            These CT articles are proof that you, in Jaffna, have succeeded in organising yourselves, even if you are not represented on the Board. Well done!

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          Dear VadduMan,

          It is good that you are giving thought to the changes that ought to be made at the very top of the hierarchy. Last night I had my comment rejected for length. In setting up a Board, a good deal of thought is necessary, but it needn’t be difficult if there is openness. You are fortunate in having decent and honest Trustees who could exert pressure.

          *

          S. Thomas’ was so important in 1930 that the Board was set up by a special Act of the Legislative Council:

          http://www.stcg62group.org/PDF/College/04_STC_Board_of_Governors_Ordinance.pdf

          This can be amended only by an act of our present Parliament in Battaramulla. Its importance in practical terms is that it insists that 80% of the Memebers of the Board of Governors should be Protestant Christians. There are 15 Members at present, so 3 can belong to any other religion. Prof. G.L. Peiris was on the BoG for a long time – he is a Buddhist. The 12 Protestant Christians? At present the situation is that many are probably agnostics, but don’t proclaim it! The problems arise if they have actually stated that they (or their children!) practice one of the three other major religions in Sri Lanka. Catholics? They are often frowned upon, the same with some of the “stranger” Protestant Churches (Pentecostalists, Assembly of God etc).

          There is a National Christian Council consisting of 5 Churches (among other things they set the Non-RC Christianity paper for the GCE O. Level Exam). By the way, Anglicans in Sri Lanka today number only 24,000 (contrast with well over a million Roman Catholics), so the schools must have non-Christians in them to run at all.

          To be continued . . .

  • 2
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    Parent

    Excellent points you have made here as a parent .
    Yes why the Trustees funds are wasted on luxury for one or two individuals while the College education , the building and the essential equipments are not replaced or repaired.
    These are serious accusations ,
    Trustees please note the Comments above from a Parent!!
    Funds are drained by the Board to non essentials!!
    Why OH!! Why???

  • 6
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    Congratulations, well-wishers of Jaffna College, you have presented your case well, with an emphasis on academic standards. I think that what ultimately counts in your favour is the fact that these schools mean a lot to all the people in the North.

    *

    In the South, it must be that the missionary school don’t mean as much in a situation where the most affluent now send their children to “International Schools”. I’m not so sure that our academic performance is all that great; over-emphasis on exam results, and an acceptance that the most gifted are entitled to emigrate is going to ruin us all.

    *

    So, you will have the “experienced” Rajan Asirwatham helping the Church establishment fight its rear-guard action. This is the problem, why should the Church be so much on the defensive, and denying democracy in the running of the schools. Things have NOT really improved since I wrote the last of my three articles:

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-thomian-pharisees-are-unrepentant-why-this-matters-to-all-sri-lankans/

    Yes, we are familiar with Rajan Asirwatham. In fact his younger brother was my class-mate; that fact should emphasise that it is time younger people start doing things. Rajan presided over those elections which were patently unfair, and unjust. In 2008, he admitted as much to me. These are essentially good people who have outlasted their usefulness. You have these super-annuated guys in politics, and you have them in these schools, and since I, myself, am getting on in years, let me also wait for younger people to take up the cry. Also, although I’ve studied in three of these Thomian schools, I am active in the OBA of one only now, and there I don’t want to act irresponsibly.

    To be continued . . .

    • 2
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      Sinhala Man,

      “So, you will have the “experienced” Rajan Asirwatham helping the Church establishment fight its rear-guard action. This is the problem, why should the Church be so much on the defensive, and denying democracy in the running of the schools.”

      Thank you for giving us a plain hint of how useful mr RA might be. As to the JDCSI I like many others believe that the church is bankrupt morally and financially. Money and appointments for friends and family from the Trustee funded schools are needed to fund the church and keep some members of the church in the villages. Without the staff of Jaffna College, Tech and the JDCSI Diocese the Cathedral Church in Vaddukoddai would be empty.

      • 0
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        Dear Parent,

        I’m glad that my “hints” have been followed by your own “Thinking”.

        *

        These, after all, are “Educational Institutions”!

        *

        If you have discovered my contact details (which I have scattered freely), please ask me for more direct information! It is the least that we, in the South, can do for you.

        *

        Realisation of just how impoverished the North is, have dawned on me but slowly.

        • 2
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          Sinhala Man,

          “Realisation of just how impoverished the North is, have dawned on me but slowly.”

          Do not worry. We are slow also. Are you referring to our consumer debts or lack of education? Both?

          I have read what you have written using the links. You have a lot of experience and knowledge. What should be done with Jaffna College? As you have seen the school has until now been unwilling to show the Constitution. Even the trustees did not have it! Now it has been leaked.The background of the teachers is not known. Many other private schools publish educational background of staff on the home page. The accounts of the school are top secret but we have all heard the claim that money is borrowed to pay salaries. Even that may be not true.

          What should we do?

          There should be a new Board and new Constitution. Some members of the staff should be sent study or into retirement.

          But how??

          • 1
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            Dear Ashok,

            I have unwittingly scattered my comments in all sorts of odd places below this article. this is being deliberately “misplaced”. You may give your own contact details if you want to, but not those of others.

            *

            But yes, you’re right, and it is sometimes so difficult to find these things. More on that later.

          • 0
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            Dear Deep Throat,

            That would have been a lot of work, going through what was written in those articles plus the comments, although I assume that you would have been able to skip huge sections whose import was obvious.

            *

            We have two days to go before the deadline for comments on this article. I’ll try to give you a few more of my observations before that, but I’ll put them in at the very end – as found at the time of placing them. Many will miss these comments that are in the middle.

            *

            I’ve given you links to the two documents that set forth the Rules by which the S. Thomas’ schools are governed. Please download while they are still there. I’ve looked for the Rules for the Boards of some other private Christian schools, but cannot find them, although I feel that they were available some time ago. I won’t be surprised if there is a deliberate policy to not allow these documents to be readily accessible.

      • 0
        0

        I think that I must add to what I have said by saying that Mr Rajan Asirwatham has always treated me decently. He showed concern for me, and respected my views. When I first met him, he was the youngest member of the BoG, and he used to study the files that he was given. His father, by the way, was a respected teacher at Mt Lavinia.

        *

        However, at the end of the day, he will now safeguard The Establishment. As you say, the churches are almost empty, except for some Moratuwa (Holy Emmanuel being the largest), and Colombo Churches. However, they own a great deal of real estate, and I guess that these Pillars of the Church feel it is their obligation to safeguard it all.

        *

        The problem is that so much that is done is secretive. Morally bankrupt is correct. Short of liquid assets, may be.

        • 0
          0

          Thank you for sharing your views about RA.

          Is this the correct email address of Rajan Asirwatham?

          rasirwatham@gmail.com

  • 3
    0

    Continued . . .

    The flagship school at Mt Lavinia is faring well because they have got adequate representation on the Board of Governors. I have already dealt with that in my earlier articles.

    As for the Branch Schools, although I do not want to speak out of turn in a public forum, I think that I can say this much. The Headmaster (please read “Principal” if unfamiliar with the jargon that we impose on the public) of the Bandarawela School, is the Ex-officio President of the OBA. In August we had an over five hour Annual General Meeting (it became that long because of the Headmaster’s intransigence), and he absolutely insisted on retaining these ridiculous powers:

    a) The President shall:

    i) Have power, when he considers, in the highest interest of the OBA so requires, to take any steps necessary, whether in contravention of the rules or otherwise, to ensure the continued existence and proper functioning of the OBA.

    *

    It was implied that he would not use these powers – but he has continued to be dictatorial. Perhaps, he’s been asked to. All four S. Thomas’ schools have priests heading them. In Mt Lavinia alone there are alumni and parents (who are Old Boys) who cannot be brushed aside. Also the Head (called the “Warden”) has by now acquired the experience to eschew riding rough-shod and misleading.

    Yes, it may be that these clergy know when they cheat (the word is fully justified, I’m afraid), and that they suffer pangs of conscience, but casuistry is part of their training.

    *
    As for you, in Jaffna, count your blessings. You’re fortunate that you are so generously funded by very liberal “Congregationalist” Christians, who practice democracy themselves in Boston, USA.

    *
    Teachers continue to be denied representation in the Branch schools – the situation has already been described in my earlier articles to which I have provided a link.

    *

    In Jaffna itself, the parents have a say – unlike at S. Thomas’. That statement of mine does not apply to certain other Anglican Schools in the South – Bishop’s College, for instance. I think I have said enough for now, unless there is a request for more information. There is material for yet another full article, but let me hope that things will improve without more exposures.

    *

    It’s just like in the country as a whole. Much is rotten, but we live in hope.

    • 1
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      Thank you Sinhala Man for your comments. They are very useful when we think about the predicament of JC. I hope Mr. Rajan Asirwatham would not turn out to be a person who protects corruption at Jaffna College.

    • 1
      0

      Sinhala Man,

      Thank you for your comment.

      “In Jaffna itself, the parents have a say”

      The Board of Directors of Jaffna College does not have representation of the parents. There is no association of parents. Most parents are Hindu and thus unable to become a Director.

      • 0
        0

        [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words. Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

  • 3
    0

    Shocking! Shocking! Mrs Indra Thavanayagam is still a member of the Board and its secretary. She has been a member of the Board for many many years. She is also a teacher and vice principal of Chulipuram Victoria College. Not too long ago, when Mr Vimalendran was the Principal she took both her daughters from Jaffna College. The reason was education at Jaffna College was not good. She put them at Chulipuram Victoria College because there she said education was good. Principal Vimalendran tried to persuade her asking her not to withdraw her children from jaffna college because everyone would say even a board member is taking her children out of the school. Things have become worse now. But she is continues as a Board member and its secretary pretending as though she has nothing to do with the situation at jaffna college and uduvil girls college. As a Board member she is also responsible for the problems at Jaffna College. Isn’t it hypocrisy to withdraw her children from JC and then not taking any action against the reasons for the problems at JC? She should tell other parents to withdraw their children too.

    • 0
      0

      Pradeep,

      “Isn’t it hypocrisy to withdraw her children from JC and then not taking any action against the reasons for the problems at JC?”

      It is but at the same time we do not know of what she has done as a Director and Secretary of the Board since the minutes have never been seen by outsiders.

      If I remember correctly the younger daughter only studied her last year at Victoria College. Unlike many other members of JDCSI Mrs Indra Thavanayagam has not installed her younger daughter as an unqualified teacher at Jaffna College. Not yet anyway.

      • 1
        0

        Parent,

        I can give you one unethical act Mrs Thavanayagam for which Mrs Thavanayagam is partly responsible. In late 2014, an advertisement was placed in the papers calling for applications for positions in Science (English medium) – Grades 6-11. When the interviews took place, to everyone’s surprise two candidates (not sure if there were more than two) who had nothing to do with Science turned up. One Anjuna Mithiraranjan (whose mother had just retired from JC that year) and Sowmya Jeyamohan (daughter of the owner of the hardware stores on Sagarathai Road). They were not just interviewed but also recruited as teachers. AM who has a degree in Home Science was posted to the primary school and SJ who has a degree in Dance was posted to the senior school where she is now teaching Tamil as well as Dance. Mrs. Thavanayagam was on the panel that interviewed and selected these candidates. Vice Principal Victor and former Supervisor Jeyarajan worked hard to get SJ appointed. There was literally a competition between Vice Principal Victor and Vice Principal Chandran, the latter campaigned for the appointment of AM. VP Victor had apparently told the Bishop there was nobody from the Araly region on JC staff and therefore SJ should be taken. It was also rumored that Vice Principal Victor was getting commission from SJ’s father for the purchases made by JC in his shop. Supervisor Jeyarajan was keen because SJ is a close friend of his daughter who had already been recruited to teach at JC in mid 2014. I agree that she has not installed her daughter as a teacher at JC. Yes, we have to be thankful to her for that considering how other members of the JDCSI are using their influence to get jobs at JC and UGC.

        • 0
          0

          Pradeep,

          Thank you for the insider information. For most of the parents the background of many of the teachers remains unclear. There are many relatively new teachers and many have been flagged as questionable in the report above and comments.

          How does the selection of staff actually work? Is there a panel that recommends a candidate and then the Board decides and appoints?

          Mrs Thavanayagam was one member of the panel for AM and SJ. Who were the others? I do not quite understand what the deputy principal, vice principal and former supervisor had to do with this unless they were members of the panel.

          How did the Alumni rep react to these appointments at a Board meeting?

          Was a science teacher appointed for English medium? Who might that be?

          Mrs Thavanayagam maybe made the correct choice for her daughters despite flak from the former principal and others. It is possible that the younger daughter later is appointed to do something in the JDCSI, Uduvil or Jaffna College.

          We as parents should not accept a Tamil teacher who is qualified in dance.

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            Parent,
            Thank you for asking these questions. They are very important ones.
            About the selection process. It is the Board that appoints the staff of the College. The constitutions of 1989, 2014, and 2015 all say that. But nobody is sure if appointments are discussed at Board meetings. A selection panel was formed in 2014/Jan 2015 for the first time after many many years. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was for one or more positions in English medium Science. Originally three candidates – apparently all well-qualified – were recruited. Along with them AM and SJ were also recruited. But only one of the three stayed on. I think his name is Lukshan who teaches Science now in the senior school. The other two left upon getting government jobs. The other members of the panel were Mr. Nagiah (Treasurer), Bishop and Principal if I remember correctly. I have no idea what Mr Nagiah taught when he was a teacher. It is important because being Arts graduates, the other three, in my opinion, are not qualified to interview candidates for a position in Science. About the other administrators’ role – they all visited the Bishop multiple times to pressurize that their favorites were taken. AM’s appointment could be seen as a token appointment to prove that the JDCSI-dominated Board does not discriminate against CACM Christians (AM’s parents are both prominent members of the CACM). There was no alumni rep when these appointments were made. Vice Principal Victor used to complain that former Principal Vimalendran never allowed him to be on selection panels for science subjects. But the constitution of this panel shows that even the Bishop who uses VP to collect information from JC and related groups did not give him a spot on the selection panel!

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              Pradeep,

              “I think his name is Lukshan who teaches Science now in the senior school.”

              He does.

              “The other two left upon getting government jobs.”

              Why has the school not tried to find two new competent Science teachers if there are vacancies? The school obviously should have competent teachers.

              “There was no alumni rep when these appointments were made.”

              Why not?

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    I found some of the needs of Jaffna College listed on the home page of the school at:

    http://www.jaffnacollege.lk/?page_id=577

    The needs are presented as Alumni Assistance Opportunity. The invitation for Founders Day also shows an expectation of funds from Alumni with the suggested creation of the Endowment Fund for the school.

    I added up the estimated cost of the Opportunities and came to a total of 7,405,000 excluding the Primary School new water tank of 10,000,000. I excluded the cost of the water tank because the Jaffna Kilinochi water pipe to Karainagar passes next to the school and can be used for water supply.

    Guess what? The money “invested” in the car (about 33 lakh) and the flat (30+ lakh) would almost have been enough for the 7,405,000 that is the cost of the Opportunities!

    Where did these estimates come from? Are they inflated?

    I have with other parents attended Prize Giving functions during the last years and read the report that is prepared. We have now noticed that the car and the flat have never been mentioned in public for the parents. Are the Trustees and Alumni aware of these investments?

    If I were a Trustee I would attach more strings to the funds. If I were a Trustee I would continue with the cut and cut a bit more to get things moving.

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    The problem could be solved without a financial or legal crisis if Bishop Thiagarajah does a course correction. He should stop the practice of giving jobs to his favorites and those who cross over from the Church of the American Ceylon Mission. The Board needs to appoint a credible person in the school or external member who is interested in the field of education to handle subject allocations. A database that includes the names of the teachers, their qualifications (including GCE OL, AL results, degrees and diplomas obtained with information about specialization and courses taken) and subjects they have taught so far at JC should be created immediately. Based on the information gathered, subjects need to be allocated in a better way from 2018 onwards. Those who are not qualified to teach any of the subjects should be asked to take the GCE OL and AL exams (this suggestion may sound weird – but this is the way forward) and sent to the College of Education for training in subjects for which teachers are needed at JC.

    The school should put an end to extravagant spending. The teachers should not be allowed to do any private businesses including catering and photography.

    If Bishop Thiagarajah cannot make these changes, the Trustees should cut the funds fully without hesitation. That would lead to a public agitation and a new constitution of the Board under a new set up. The school may get embroiled in legal battles but when the community has a reasonable plan B as presented their statement, it will be difficult for people like Sumanthiran to defend the Bishop in public. The Bishop will have to eventually let go of the school. This crisis cannot continue forever; the students and teachers need a healthy environment to engage in teaching and learning.

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      Alumnus,

      “If Bishop Thiagarajah cannot make these changes, the Trustees should cut the funds fully without hesitation.”

      But will they?

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      Alumnus,

      “A database that includes the names of the teachers, their qualifications (including GCE OL, AL results, degrees and diplomas obtained with information about specialization and courses taken) and subjects they have taught so far at JC should be created immediately.”

      Jaffna College must have this data base already but I doubt they will share it with others like Alumni, parents or Trustees due to the known irregularities in the appointments and the questionable educational background of some teachers.

      Teachers of private schools must be approved by the Private School Branch of Ministry of Education. When a teacher is appointed his/her personal file and appointment letter from the school are sent to the Private School Branch. After approval the personal file of a Jaffna College teacher is sent to the Valikamam Zonal Education Office in Maruthanarmadam Chunnakam with email valizone@gmail.com

      Since co-operation from the school is unlikely the personal files of the teachers should be requested from the Valikamam Zonal Education Office. I do not believe that the personal files are confidential based on any law but the fact is that the Valikamam Zonal Education Office may not be willing to share them without a RTI request.

      Any person, Alumni association and even any unincorporated body can file a RTI request using the form available on line. It is free of charge to file a RTI request.

      Valikamam Zonal Education Office must have personal files of the approved teachers but I suspect that some of the so called teachers of Jaffna College were not approved by the Private School Branch because they fail to meet the minimum requirements set by the Ministry of Education.

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    I would like to know the comments the people are writing on this news paper? Do they know really what is happening in the schools or in the northern part of Sri lanka?? Murders, Robbery, Rape and killing each other or finding fault with each other. I wish if the Government take over the Jaffna College and the Uduvil Girls College. Then every one will shut their dirty mouth. I hope and pray the Srlankan Government will do something very soon. Tamils will never learn a lesson

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    The amended constitutions (2014 and 2015) say (1) the Bishop shall be the Chairperson of the Board by virtue of office and (2) 5-6 members (including the Bishop?) shall be elected by the Diocesan Council of the JDCSI.

    These two clauses are responsible for the larger crisis that JC is facing today.

    First clause should be repealed and as stated in the 1989 constitution the Chairperson of the Board should be elected by the Board.

    Instead of the Diocesan Council of JDCSI appointing 5-6 members, the Anglican Church, Methodist Church, the Church of the American Ceylon Mission and the JDCSI should nominate one member each to the Board.

    The alumni representation should be raised from one to two and a parents representative should be included.

    The seven core members (4 from the different churches, 2 alumni reps, 1 staff rep and 1 parents rep) should collectively appoint the rest of the Board (maybe a minimum of 5 to a maximum of 7).

    This is a workable solution that needs to be tried. Perhaps the Trustees should insist a change of this kind.

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      Vadduman,

      “These two clauses are responsible for the larger crisis that JC is facing today.”

      Are these Constitutions from the Board? The JDCSI really has taken over the school.

      “First clause should be repealed and as stated in the 1989 constitution the Chairperson of the Board should be elected by the Board.”

      Who elects the Manager and what are his/her powers? At the moment the Chairman is the Manager. The Constitutions barely mention the role of the Manager.

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      VadduMan,

      “The amended constitutions (2014 and 2015) say (1) the Bishop shall be the Chairperson of the Board by virtue of office and (2) 5-6 members (including the Bishop?) shall be elected by the Diocesan Council of the JDCSI.”

      This means that 5-6 are elected by the JDCSI and the Bishop is always the Chairperson. Minimum of 7 members from JDCSI! The Bishop is not elected the others are.

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    Continuing . . .

    There is so much fear of Buddhist Fundamentalism among alumni that they will not want this clause about religion changed. Many Muslims want education in tolerant Anglican schools – I’m trying to give you the practical concerns at present. But no Muslim has ever been on the BoG.

    *

    The document that really matters is this:

    http://www.stcg62group.org/PDF/College/05_Rules_of_STC_Board_of_Governors.pdf

    This is easily changed, and one could have Representatives of Parents. Any form of Representation has its dangers. Parents may want special favours for their progeny. Teachers may want special favours – the fact that some only of the teachers will receive a GOVERNMENT pension for life is an obvious reason for manipulation. The problem is that the BoG (in practical terms, the Bishop), doesn’t stick to what is laid down here. That was what my articles were about, so I will do no more here than state that the Branch Schools MUST be given greater representation, and that Sections 1.4 and 1.5 are so badly drafted that the Teacher Representative was not elected by the teachers at all.

    Whatever the composition of the Board, it is unlikely that subjects like teacher recruitment will ever reach a level higher than the Principal of the school. The attitude towards teachers is that they are paid salaries, and so they don’t need rights. Then why list a person as “Teacher Representative” at all? There always are clean elections at Mt Lavinia because they don’t have to “share” Board Members.

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    For https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/locals-petition-trustees-over-irregularities-at-jaffna-college/

    It may be that what happens in Bandarawela helps you understand some of the issues that our Anglican Schools face. Please see,

    http://www.stcboba.org

    and having got there please drop down to”The OBA” and then AGM Minutes : they are draft Minutes of the Annual General Meeting in August 2017, which have been approved by the Executive Committee (including the President), but which must be ratified at the 2018 AGM.

    http://www.stcboba.org/downloads/30th-agm-minutes(2016-2017)-draft.pdf

    It would be good for you to locate the gobbets I have given here in the main document, and see them in their proper context. The President refused to move on from this, although nobody else supported keeping these words, while most were vehemently opposed:

    “a) The President shall:

    i) Have power, when he considers, in the highest interest of the OBA so requires, to take any steps necessary, whether in contravention of the rules or otherwise, to ensure the continued existence and proper functioning of the OBA.

    However, it is recorded that there were objections to this clause, as a result of this, these words also appear: ” . . . the President assured that he will not act on this clause in future.”

    “viii) Delegate duties in writing to Vice Presidents to chair the Exco meetings in his absence.”

    *
    To be continued . . .

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    Continuing . . .

    So, the iron grip continues. The Head delegates somebody to act, and stipulates what may or may not be discussed. I’m sorry that I cannot divulge what I know by virtue of being a Member of the Committee. We are trying hard to play by the rules. I don’t dare venture in to the school uninvited, since even when formally asked to do some monitoring for the World Bank on “Bilingual Education”, this school alone refused me entry. I could have helped much by way of suggesting how other schools are tackling the little problems that arise when attempting to use more English in teaching. We are following a scheme developed in European countries:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_and_language_integrated_learning

    The school website displays plenty of impressive attempts to improve English:

    https://stcb.edu.lk/

    But there is no possibility of follow-up since these high-powered people come, do something, and then disappear.

    I have noted your complaint about the quality of teachers. Some being unqualified, others being members of certain families. The problems are different here. They don’t want people who know about the history of the school to be in any position. They usually have a go-getter, who knows English, but is servile to The Establishment as “Secretary”. There has never been a Deputy Headmaster, or a Vice-Principal. This Secretary usually lords it over the staff, but has no academic credentials whatsoever.
    *
    To be concluded . . .

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