Colombo Telegraph is now in possession of the English translation of the petition handed over to the President by the students of Uduvil Girls’ College who protested last week demanding the reinstatement of Mrs. Shiranee Mills as the school’s Principal. The petition reveals that the Bishop of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Thiagarajah had made a verbal promise to the previous Principal Mrs. Shiranee Mills that she would be given an extension and requested her to write to him a letter. The petition also says that even the new Principal Mrs. Patricia Suneetha Jebaratnam, who was previously the Vice Principal, was told by the Bishop that Mrs. Mills would be given an extension.
In the meantime, at a parents’ meeting held in Jaffna, a parent was heard saying (in Tamil) that Mrs. Patricia Suneetha Jebaratnam had given hope to some of the students prior to her appointment as Principal that Mrs. Mills would get an extension for another two years and if Mrs. Mills was denied extension she herself and her daughter, who is the current Head Prefect of the school, would fight for Mrs. Mills’ extension. When the students met Mrs. Jebaratnam after her appointment was announced to ask her to join their struggle to reinstate Mrs. Shiranee Mills as the Principal, Mrs. Jebaratnam had begun to cry.
The students also note in their petition that the newly appointed Principal has failed to take action and failed them in her duty when they were being attacked and abused by the teachers. They end their petition requesting the President to reinstate Mrs. Mills as principal and release the school from the grip of Jaffna Diocese Church of South India by making changes in the governing body.
In the meantime, Mrs. Shiranee Mills handed over duties to Mrs. Jebaratnam yesterday.
Here is the petition in full:
Honurable President Maithripala Sirisena,
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Re: Request of the Students of Uduvil Girls’ College
In Uduvil Girls’ College there is no age limit for a Principal. There have been Principals who have served well over 60 years.
If Principals should retire by the age of 60 why did the management request Mrs.Mills to come for an interview?
Why did Bishop Thiagaragah promise Mrs.Mills that he would give her an extension and request her to write him a letter?
Why did the Bishop give the former Vice Principal Mrs. Suneetha Jebaratnam their word that they would extend Mrs.Mills’ services?
In the members of the selection committee for the post of Principal how many are from the Uduvil Girls’ College Community and know our history and the love that we have for this school?
The new selection for Principal was held on the 16th and 17th of August. The decision was announced on the 18th of August. The Principal was ordered to hand over all documents and particulars pertaining to the school on the 6th of September to the new principal giving only 19 days notice. Why was she asked to hand over the school in just 19 days?
Why were the teachers prevented from holding a farewell for the principal before she left?
Why were the students prevented from meeting the Principal?
At the end of the second term it was announced that the third term will start on the 5th of September. This was recorded on the report card. Why was the opening postponed to the 8th of September without consulting the Principal?
Why is Bishop Daniel Thiagarajah and the management giving us students so much of problems and causing us a lot of heart ache.
The bishop nor the members of the board visited us to hear our grievances. Why were they ignoring our pleas?
The zonal department officials came to see us and hear our pleas. They said that they would not be able to help us as the private schools don’t come under their jurisdiction in management as this matter comes under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Education Ministry and the Education Department. But the provincial education ministry and the Education Department have failed in their duty to protect the students? Why?
The teachers are supposed to protect the students from harm. Why did these teachers turn around and verbally and physically attack and abuse us?
We were threatened over the phone by a few teachers and were ordered not to partake in the protest or else we will have to face the consequences.
The protection of the students was compromised when they started receiving threatening calls asking us not to partake in the strike.
While the students were being attacked and abused by the teachers the newly appointed principal did not take any action and failed us in her duty to protect the students?
For these reasons we implore you to intervene and not allow the Education Ministry and the school management sacrifice the well being of the students of Uduvil Girls’ College. We humbly request you to take necessary action to create a safe environment that will support us and respect us as students. We also request you to reinstate Mrs.Mills’ position as principal and release the school from the grip of Jaffna Diocese Church of South India by making changes in the governing body.
Students of Uduvil Girls’ College
Lone Wolf / September 13, 2016
“Why did these teachers turn around and verbally and physically attack and abuse us?
We were threatened over the phone by a few teachers and were ordered not to partake in the protest or else we will have to face the consequences.”
When did the police investigation start or will start? Child abuse, threat, intimidation!
The police does not require a complaint to act and in fact should act when they detect a crime. If in doubt re-read the ancient Police Ordinance.
How about transferring the OIC in charge of Uduvil?
Any phone calls from certain MP to the OIC?
Laxmi / September 14, 2016
This is the aftermath of 30 years of conflict – everything is politicized in Jaffna.
The great mass of Uduvill girls are silent and we will not know which principle they prefer. It seems appropriate that if there is a younger principle – the older one should move on and let the younger folk take over.
This petition and rumpus seem like the work of the LTTE -left overs who feel that the old principle was more sympathetic to the cause of Tamil Nationalism.
Everything is politicized in Jaffna and split down the middle with pro and contra LTTE groups holding the rest of society to ransom.
Ajith / September 13, 2016
I don’t know what is going on here. It looks like a mess and it is not good to the future of the School. It is sad that President, Police, Military, police have to involve in this matter. It is a shame on the Tamil community as a whole.
Rajash / September 13, 2016
This not a university student clash with sticks and rods and bricks
But a girls school.
tatcher / September 15, 2016
the parents of the school girls are stupid or politically motivated. The president by gazette notification can take over the school as it has done to other schools of colombo. with the Buddha statutes around you never know. At the end typically Tamils lose like voting BodhiSira without request by him but boat people/diaspora fishermen.
Just imagine 100k present at London in protest held by boat people BTF/GTF but no friends just angered Londoners.
Joseph De Vazz - Kotte / September 15, 2016
The IGP should take action against the Police Officers who took photographs and videos of the school students at the school premises.
Panini Edirisinhe / September 13, 2016
Dear Students of Uduvil G.C.,
I wish you success, but I note this with some concern:
“In the meantime, Mrs. Shiranee Mills handed over duties to Mrs. Jebaratnam yesterday.”
If this goes on too long, it’ll be considered a “fait accomli”; also protesting should not become your occupation: UGC should become once more a school where you are all happy and receive education. I think that the sympathies of the entire country are with you, at this moment, but I know that we who are separated from you in so many ways cannot possibly understand all that is going on – and there often is another side to these stories.
“You humbly request . . . ” – actually you will need that humility when you deal with the Education Department Officials. Nobody in the Zone, or the Province, will be able to help you: these private schools have surrounded themselves with an aura, so that no Education Official in the Provinces will ever risk making pronouncements on these matters that they don’t understand. Language is another problem, with the administration of the Private Schools being mainly in English. Yesterday I posted a comment under my own name and three using the pseudonym, “Sinhala_Man”. Read them. It is the Private Schools Branch that matters now, but there are other officials above that. You may soon get sick of it all.
I’m now beginning to realise that I may even have been over-confident of my knowledge of the workings of all these components of the Ministry. It may be that even in this one comment I have contradicted myself. You were fortunate in many ways (meeting the President, for instance). Now don’t over-reach.
Rajash / September 13, 2016
100% agree with you.
I post here an news item from Daily FT
Even though everything seems to be water under the bridge. The teachers will be carrying grudges against the students who protested and specially the parents of/and the girls who were assaulted by the teacher may want some action against the teacher.
There is going to be some bad feeling for a some time. I sincerely hope that the students will not be punished or will not pay the price indirectly for their actions.
The message to teachers/students/administrators/politicians/Men in Robe “Lets move on and focus on education.”
Crisis ending at Jaffna Uduvil Girls’ College?
• Retiring principal formally hands over duties to successor on public holiday
• Bishop assures safety of students in meeting with parents; promises to investigate assault charges during protest
By Dharisha Bastians
After a week of protests and turmoil, the crisis at the Uduvil Girls’ College appeared to be drawing to a close, with retiring principal Shiranee Mills formally handing over duties to her successor last evening.
The breakthrough was a result of waning support for the protests over the appointment of a new principal and what past pupils and demonstrating students called the forcible retirement of Principal Mills, after the problems at the elite Jaffna girls’ school took a major political turn at the end of last week.
Bishop Daniel Thiagarajah who heads the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India which manages Uduvil Girls’ College held a three-hour meeting with parents of students attending the school, at which he assured the safety of the protesting students and promised to set up a committee to look into complaints that the schoolgirl demonstrators had been assaulted the previous week. He requested the parents at the meeting to ensure their children attended classes and continue with their school activities as usual, in order to restore normalcy.
Subsequent to the meeting at around 4.30p.m., Principal Mills sat with members of the school board and the new Principal Patricia Suneetha Jebaratnam and signed over responsibilities of the office. Yesterday being a public holiday, the school was closed and there were no students in the premises, sources told Daily FT.
Principal Mills remains in the principal’s bungalow inside the premises, which she has promised to vacate in due course.
The unrest began when a group of students and past pupils protested against the school management on the basis that Mills was being retired prematurely when traditionally UGC principals have been well over the age of 65 at the time of retirement. The students alleged that the selection committee to choose the new UGC principal was heavily biased against Mills. The past pupils association said the Church was administering the prestigious school in a ‘totalitarian’ fashion.
Mills is credited with having transformed the Uduvil Girls’ College since taking office as principal, and uplifting the school’s educational standards.
As a result of the unrest, school attendance has been low since the new term began on 8 September.
In an interview with Daily FT last week, Bishop Thiagarajah insisted that the issue was being fuelled by third parties. The issue at the school became increasingly political, with a plethora of Northern political actors, including EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda, TNA Provincial Councillors Ananthi Sasitharan and Shivajilingam and EPRLF Leader Suresh Premachandran heavily backing Principal Mills and the protesting students. Students and past pupils alleged ‘political interference’ and abuse of power by TNA Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran who acted as counsel for the Bishop in a case against Mills and others several years ago.
The crisis at Uduvil Girls’ College was believed to be rooted in a major church split that took place nearly a decade ago.
– See more at: http://www.ft.lk/article/567439/Crisis-ending-at-Jaffna-Uduvil-Girls–College#sthash.SoJi6qqs.dpuf
Donald Gnanakone / September 15, 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu6xrEZHOJo – The Bishop responds to some of the false allegations to the media on the Principal Mills created problems. There are 2 Youtube interviews by the Bishop yesterday. There are also 2 articles written by Dharisha Bastian published by respectable and reliable websites such as Financial Times and D B S Jeyarajah.com which the Colombo Telegraph readers are unaware. These 2 articles are fairly accurate compared to the “Anonymous so called Report” published on Colombo Telegraph. I request the editor to adhere to fair reporting on this subject for your own sake and reputation as well as inform the CT readers correctly. FYI, I have been in SL since November 2014 and fairly well informed directly and indirectly by both sides which originates for the past 10 years between the aspiring Bishop Rev Jeyanesan and the elected Bishop Thiyagarajah. The several court cases are all related to that particular issue. There has been many politicians involved in this crisis taking sides against the Bishop and the JDCSI led by EPDP leader Douglas Devananda and including Deputy Minister of Education Radhakrishnan, NPC PC Minister of Education Thambyrajah Gurukularajah, TNA MPs and defeated MP’s Suresh Premachandran, PLOTE leader Sitharthan, Saravanabavan, Shivajilingam, and PC member Ananthi Sasiharan. Personal attacks on TNA MP Sumanthiran, and his wife who is a member of the board of trustees of UGC is totally unjustified, unwarranted, (Due to political jealousy and infighting)and unfair. Mr. Sumanthiran is also the attorney of record for the JDCSI and the Bishop for over 10 years. He is also a member, and friend of the JDCSI. Such attacks only convoluted and confused during the crises, of the common readers who are ignorant of the history of the problems. Unfortunately, the few participating students and some teachers are getting hurt, who are clearly manipulated by a few vested interest attempting to settle old grudges and outsiders/politicians trying to gain political advantage. It also caused embarrassment to the President when he was ambushed with the weeping Uduvil students dramatizing performance including publicly falling at the feet of the President at the Jaffna Subramaniam Park. All this for the cause of getting a job extension of 2 years for the 60 year old principal via the executive powers of the Presidency on a privately funded Tamil Christian Girls School where such powers cannot be exercised. Douglas Devananda and Deputy Minister should have realized it without arranging such an encounter for the President ending with such hopeless results. The Bishop however has promised the parents and students/teachers that the participants won’t be penalized or punished in the future. Hopefully, the future discipline or dignity of UGC won’t be compromised. Donald Jayantha Gnanakone
Donald Gnanakone / September 15, 2016
The second You Tube interview of Bishop Thiyagarajah.
When English translation is available, it would be published.
Rajash / September 15, 2016
I quote you “It also caused embarrassment to the President “
when did you become champion of President
you also have u r own agenda
then you go on to say “….including publicly falling at the feet of the President ..”
then you go on to say
“The Bishop however has promised the parents and students/teachers that the participants won’t be penalized or punished in the future”
you are also one of those arseholes
Rajash / September 15, 2016
I coined the phrase
Men in Robes
The Curse of Sri Lanka
I am not sure who is to be trusted and which news media to be trusted.
You reveal u r bias by accepting one side of the story and claiming that source to be more credible than CT
I would have thought that a man of your so called status to be neutral and extend your support to the traumatised students, who according to u r insider information were manipulated.
you offer no apology for these students
we Tamils arte where we are because of us don’t blame the Sinhalease
timbuttu / September 15, 2016
Sorry to interrupt. Back in the 60’s when schools were to be taken over i was a kid at a missionary school colombo. As non Christians we paid heavy donations for the upkeep and it was a time of SriMao when if you had the $$ you were sent to jail.
I noticed that almost all the students who became abusive were the ones who were converts and funded by the church itself and this shocked. I came home and told my father.He just smiled. It was a great experience and at university I could read these pricks quickly.
Bane of sri lankas problems – free education.
Gune natthe ballo and its in every country and every school every university. Anything for free has no value.
Guarantee my bottom dollar they were manipulated.
Rajash / September 15, 2016
I also went to a faith school in Sri Lanka. Not my faith and my parents have to bribe the missionaries to get admission.
It is sad that the new Prime Minister of UK is supporting Faith schools.
I think she is influenced by the Jewish lobby. As a consequence Muslim faith schools are going to mushroom all over UK preaching extremism.
timbuttu / September 16, 2016
Dad did not bribe he too studied in a missionary school where his pop paid etc (those are private matters and don’t discuss much because we gave it with love in our hearts for making us humans with dignity and all round development.) I know of Muslims who have donated too.
I learnt Hinduism from a Buddhist monk at colombo who did not touch money . buddhism from rinpoche who did not touch money. Simple interest.
When the bishop has taken responsibility the board goes with him 100% and that is Christianity- so don’t create trouble for school. the principal mills is not the only person in the world. See Dr R.R. that is gentleman we respect for action and deed. He never spoke ill of government or of Swamy but the new man cannot do the job he was doing which was 2 fold and not for an economist- but he has been appointed by modi a corner shop patel president of reliance (ambani) The man who would be hurt the most is Dr Manmohan.
When the south Indian church has appointed the bishop little toilet of India Lanka can not touch the faith. The south Indian church is all powerful worldwide- folk in the UN, foreign service etc to all their alma mater though they are not Christians.
When Trump wins all this stupid school stunts would stop because he is Presbyterian. I would rather bomb north and south flat to let the islanders live in peace as one people. so find yourself a place outside of wella as Sumane is watching wella from loku unnas tea shop.
She is the unelected PM and its best till US elections are complete (Cameron,Scottish Nicola plus Muslims gave Trump too much flack then when Putin support came in they all shied away inclusive of London’s mayor. There will be many changes after US elections.
She is the daughter of christian priest like merkel is of catholic priest. Muslims better stay under the carpet because retired MP for life Dobson is not supporting Muslim faith schools though his son got converted. If Corbyn wins UK is in for a terrible term so he would be ousted. Right now about 50% of UK trade is with US.Labour got the Pakistan mayor (like most i did not bother voting- no confidence in either) because they wanted to win only by bringing back the Muslims and libdems. With Brexit UK won’t have problems deporting Muslims BTW France and Belgium are deporting without much fuss. Notice the Russians have only syria base so the rest is cannon fodder.
Boris London was every bodies envy- imagine no council increase.
Rajash / September 15, 2016
Donald Gnanakone “There are also 2 articles written by Dharisha Bastian published by respectable and reliable websites such as Financial Times and D B S Jeyarajah.com which the Colombo Telegraph readers are unaware. These 2 articles are fairly accurate compared to the “Anonymous so called Report” published on Colombo Telegraph.”
Donald Gnanakone please qualify your statement by saying “in my best of opinion..”
unless you are at ground level
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / September 14, 2016
Winning or losing does not matter. What matters is do what is right and your conscience dictates. I see many potential leaders among these school girls. Do not lose the gift you have been blessed with.
It appears that you have been let down by you peers, including your parents . ‘The men in cloth’ were a disgrace. One student was asking, ‘ Are you a teacher?”. She was right. More students in this country and their parents should ask this question.
You have helped expose the rot that is destroying the Church of South India from within. This has been the greatest achievement of your cry for justice.
The young man who tried to obstruct the policeman taking photographs, should be identified and prosecuted for obstructing a police officer performing his duty. This young man portrays the hidden part of the iceberg that is seeking to push Tamil society towards hell. Our politicians are nurturing these types.
timbuttu / September 15, 2016
“”You have helped expose the rot that is destroying the Church of South India from within. This has been the greatest achievement of your cry for justice.””
I am not a christian/catholic but I must say they still produce India’s best towards civil service, foreign service that non can match.
Delhi- St Stephens, Madras Christian Calcutta Don Bosco/St Xaviers Bombay- – its all round development which the hindu/buddhist schools/colleges do not produce. they the best because you are bogged in caste class etc.
How are all those refugees from south india (colombo chetties doing well?/ the alma mater is responsible) Bastian is a colombo chetty and student of nuns.
Aia / September 14, 2016
What the heck is going on in Jaffna? Riots in only university…and in schools. Do not they know how to sort out a thing or two by themselves?. What the provincial councils is up to?. They want land and police, but cannot even manage education fort polio? You cannot call the president for each and every thing?. Decentralize or recentralize the power. If you guys have faith in the President, is a good thing, to sort out a problem a school has, why not a region or country has? Sympathies with students, not sure why this issue has been let to fester this bad?
This is what South say, these provincial councils are white elephants. Tend to agree with them, the sky wouldn’t have fallen if not this provincial council, right. Whatever we have been boasting as good at, we cannot workout consensus on any issue, to reach it people should be smart enough. Yet, we claim we are, sad.
Abimanu / September 15, 2016
“Bishop Daniel Thiagarajah who heads the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India which manages Uduvil Girls’ College held a three-hour meeting with parents of students attending the school, at which he assured the safety of the protesting students and promised to set up a committee to look into complaints that the schoolgirl demonstrators had been assaulted the previous week”.
Bishop Daniel Thiagarajah is the PROBLEM– It is a joke that he says that he will find SOLUTIONS. It is like a thief saying that he will restore law and order. The causes of the problems in Jaffna College are Bishop Thiagarajah’s arbitrary involvement, directly and through his sycophants and his wife, in mismanagement of the school of its funds, appointments of staff, and nepotism at all levels with the support of hos cohorts. One could not stop him at Jaffna College; now his evil, nefarious and devious tentacles have also extended to its sister school, Uduvil Girls School. Cut Bishop Danilel Thiagarajah’s tentacles — Jaffna College & Uduvil Girls School will regain their former glories.
Sinhala_Man / September 16, 2016
Dear Donald Gnanakone,
Thanks for the explanations, the information about other articles on the subject, and the promise of translations to come. I can understand little of this owing to not knowing Tamil – but perhaps, that very fact emphasises that we should leave the people of the Jaffna Peninsula to sort this out. Concerned, I am, but I don’t think that I should meddle in things that have little to do with me. This also emphasises that the children of today MUST learn the THREE languages of Sri Lanka. Let’s forget the official status of English. The fact is that if any one of these languages is offered at Sri Lankan A. Levels (where the public are in the habit of incorrectly calling the language I’m now using “English Literature”) first language proficiency is expected. That is not so if the subject offered is French, or German, or Chinese, or Korean. One can’t expect THAT degree of proficiency, of course, in all three languages, but at least a working knowledge is what we should be thinking of.
So, I have read Dharisha Bastians writing in English
It’s not only TWO YouTube programmes that have come on during the last three days:
Meeting with parents:
The politicians (this is Sivajilingam) are still stirring things up:
Lots more YouTubes listed on the right side of the screen. We can’t understand all this, and I’m glad that you’re planning to translate some of this at least.
However, it would be good if you could also let us know the special regulations that govern this particular school. For instance, in the South, S. Thomas’ has to take account of the 1930 Ordinance which can be changed only by Parliament:
That seems to me to be the only place where the Ordinance is available; and the BoG has in turn framed certain “Rules” , which can be amended by them at any time:
Yes, they can change the Rules, but they don’t; instead they regularly violate the Rules, which, to me seems most irrational – or is it laziness?
It would be good if you could give us the most significant regulations in English versions. We’d like to understand, and so, I’m sure will the American Churches which have been helping your schools (shouldn’t I include Jaffna College, Vadukoddai?)
So much goes on in the name of religion, that I hope you will see my request in that context. For me, there’s nothing (Party) political in this. There must be transparency in what religious organisations do. You yourself have acknowledged that there are two factions and “several court cases”: not what one expects from a religious organisation. Who is “the aspiring Bishop Rev Jeyanesan”? And what is an “aspiring bishop”? Many a Buddhist would imagine that these guys are full of “thannaha”!
Also, doesn’t the Colombo Diocese have an Archdeacon (Ven. Jayanth Jayaweerasinhgam?) in the South of the Jaffna Peninsula, in Chundikuli? And isn’t the Church of South India an amalgam of Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian? You value organisation so much – and end up looking so DIS-organised! You will help us by explaining some of these seeming contradictions. And have we, in the South, who caused such chaos in your society, contributed to all this mess? More importantly, are we still doing so? If we are, we must stop.