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School textbooks as inherent peacebuilders: ''Sri Lanka needs A UNESCO supervised revision of school text books by a panel of internationally renowned Sri Lankan scholars so as to minimize prejudice against communities and ‘build the defences of peace in the minds of men’.'' - The Lalith Weeratunga Presentation, Dayan Jayatilleka, 28 January 2014, http://groundviews.org/2014/01/28/the-lalith-weeratunga-presentation/ ‘’Education must rise on the agenda of peace building. We know the wrong type of education can fuel conflict. The use of education systems to foster hatred has contributed to the underlying causes of conflicts, from Rwanda to Sri Lanka, but also in Guatemala and Sudan’’ - Why education matters for global security, Irina Bokova(Director General, UNESCO), 1 March 2011, http://234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/Home/5680782-182/story.csp '' Peace education is an imperative at this stage of our national history ....'' - Justice C. G. Weeramantry tells Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC), 29 November 2010, http://www.scribd.com/doc/127226195/Sri-Lanka-Justice-Weeramantry-to-Lessons-Learnt-andReconciliation-Commission iii. ‘’After almost 30 years of conflict, it also has to rebuild a Nation, a Sri Lankan Nation united in its diversity, where communities and individuals feel at ease. For this, there is not much foreign friends can do. This is the responsibility of Sri Lankan people, their political leadership, in the government and in the opposition, and also their civil society, and this is where academics and researchers have an important role to play, particularly those who are working in the fields of history, law, economy, sociology and political sciences’’ Address by Christine Robichon, Ambassador of France, at the Peradeniya University Research Sessions (PURSE) - 2010, 16th December 2010, http://www.ambafrance-lk.org/spip.php?article839 iv. ''Building a consciousness of nationhood is not a responsibility that can be left to politicians and constitutional lawyers. .... It is pre-eminently an educational task, to be initiated at the level of our schools. It requires a new way of looking at history, and helping young minds climb out of the constraints placed on their understanding by the sectarian myths, legends, and memories that are embedded in their ancient chronicles, whether they relate to their Aryan origins or to their Dravidian origins. This does not mean that children should be ignorant of, much less that they should reject, their rich historical inheritance, but that they should acquire a more global view of history and be equipped with a critical sense that will enable them to stand back and look at their respective narratives more objectively. .... Unless and until Sri Lanka can produce leaders who can realize that truth, and are willing to act on it, it will continue to be dismembered by conflict, long after the LTTE and Pirabhikaran have passed into history '' - Why Sirimavo refused to visit Jaffna after 1964 cyclone By Neville Jayaweera, 18 January 2009, http://transcurrents.com/tc/2009/01/why_sirimavo_refused_to_visit.html v. In the 1950s and 1960s Tamil and Sinhalese scholars vehemently protested the hatred-mongering in textbooks but the Education Department that produces the textbooks dismissed their concern.
B. Dangerous ground reality: textbooks instigating hatred against ethnic minorities: i. “Millions of school children are taught, in the name of social studies, through text-books published by the state, the myths of divergent racial origins which will help to divide the Sinhalese and Tamils for more generations to come... What this lesson does is to evoke the child's memories of being frightened by his parents with threats of the mysterious and fearful `billo' to identify these bogeymen as Tamil agents, and thus to enlist the deep-seated irrational fears of early childhood for the purpose of creating apprehension
and hatred of Tamils” - Reggie Siriwardene, a well-respected Sinhalese writer, in a well--documented analysis of the effects of school textbooks on ethnic relations in Sri Lanka(1984) ii. ‘’The Two Faces of Education in Ethnic Conflict challenges a widely-held assumption - that education is inevitably a force for good. While stressing the many stabilizing aspects of good quality education, editors Kenneth Bush and Diana Saltarelli show how education can be manipulated to drive a wedge between people, rather than drawing them closer together. After analyzing the increasing importance of ethnicity in contemporary conflicts, this Innocenti Insight outlines the negative and positive faces of education in situations of tension or violence, including the denial of education as a weapon of war (negative) and the cultivation of inclusive citizenship (positive). It emphasizes the need for peacebuilding education that goes further than the 'add good education and stir' approach, aiming to transform the very foundations of intolerance. ….Ethnic intolerance makes it appearance in the classroom in many ways…… Textbooks have often been shown to contain negative ethnic stereotypes..... A review of the textbooks used in the segregated schools of Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s, for example, found Sinhalese textbooks scattered with images of Tamils as the historical enemies of the Sinhalese, while celebrating ethnic heroes who had vanquished Tamils in ethnic wars. Ignoring historical fact, these textbooks tended to portray Sinhalese Buddhists as the only true Sri Lankans, with Tamils, Muslims and Christians as non- indigenous and extraneous to Sri Lankan history. This version of national history according to one commentator, has been deeply divisive in the context of the wider state’’ - The Two Faces of Education in Ethnic Conflict: Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children, Kenneth D. Bush and Diana Saltarelli(2000), http://www.unicefirc.org/publications/pdf/insight4.pdf iii. ‘’It is necessary to trace briefly the historical links between the development of the education system and the development of an ethnic -based politics, leading to armed conflict. .... Divisions were exacerbated by successive government policies discriminating against the Tamil minorities. .... Divisive ethnic politics and loss of confidence in non-violent and democratic politics8 fuelled the desire for autonomous, separatist solutions through the 1970s .... The Government dominates the educational publications sector in Sri Lanka through its provision of free textbooks to all students from grade 1 to 11 .... Tamils not involved in writing the textbooks - Textbooks written in Sinhala, and then translated into Tamil .... full of spelling, grammatical and factual errors .... distortion of history .... the history of Sri Lanka is confined to a few selected Sinhala kings .... the textbooks do not educate the child about the various characteristics of a multi-religious and a multi- racial society; the majority of Sinhala medium textbooks emphasize Sinhalese Buddhist attitudes; distorted maps under-represent North and Eastern Provinces; "geographical, social, economical or cultural features" of Tamil communities (including the plantation sector) are not adequately discussed or presented; in studying art, the Tamil student only studies Sinhalese Buddhist aspects of art; the textbooks encourage children to develop "apartheid attitudes" ..... War is shown as patriotic while peace is portrayed as cowardice’’ - Respect for Diversity in Educational Publication - The Sri Lankan Experience, Ariya Wickrema and Peter Colenso, 2003, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/2782001121703274255/1439264-1126807073059/Paper_Final.pdf iv. In the 1950s and 1960s Tamil and Sinhalese scholars vehemently protested the hatred-mongering in textbooks but the Education Department that produces the textbooks dismissed their concern. v.NGOs working Peace are vilified: NGOs have been pointing out the injustice to the Tamils and trying to help the people neglected by successive governments which have been resenting them. But this government has been highly criticising them and even expelling some and refusing to extend visas to some others. This government has begun to use education to poison the minds of students: ‘’There are views expressed that the actions of some non government organizations in Sri Lanka has had an adverse impact on the country’s independence, peace, culture and even development. Write an essay
backing your stance with reason.’’ - GCE Advanced Level(August 2009) Sinhala question paper(prepared by the Department of Education), http://www.lankanewsweb.com/news/EN_2009_08_19_004.html
C.Militarisation of Education is a dangerous trend: 1.Militarisation of leadership in schools: ‘’Raddolugama Pagnananda Madya Maha Vidyalaya Principal W.A.S. Wickramasinghe died following a stroke while exercising in the morning at the Rantambe Cadet Camp . Wickremesinghe, 52, was among the 97 participants in the month-long military leadership training programme for school Principals. The group was involved in training from June 27’’ - Principal dies during training, 30 June 2013, http://archives.dailynews.lk/2010/04/30/cdnstory.asp?sid=20130630_01&imid=cdn.jpg&dt=[June%2030%2 02013] ''4,000 school principals have been ordered to undergo 45 days of military training and receive military titles'' 28 February 2013, http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-hermitic-crisis/ Headteachers trained by National Cadets and made berevet colonels - 27 October 2012, http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/10/27/why/ 2.Civi society appeals to transfer leadership training into university programme: ‘’We therefore repeat our request that the programme is conducted by universities as part of their orientation course for new students, on University Campuses’’ - Our Constitution requires commitment to democratic and not military governance, Jayantha Dhanapala (former UN Under-Secretary General) and Savitri Goonesekere (Emeritus Prof of Law, University of Colombo), 6 October 2012, http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/our-constitution-requires-commitment-to-democratic-andnot-military-governance/ ‘’ This programme has been introduced by the Ministry of Higher Education in a military environment under the leadership of the Ministry of Defence..... The curriculum of the training programme obtained by the Friday Forum after some effort reveals extremely problematic aspects. No mention is made of the authority responsible for the curriculum but a prominent photograph of the Defence Secretary on the cover of the study guide suggests authorship by the Defence establishment. .... What is more problematic is the content of the module on history and national heritage. .... “National heritage” focuses exclusively on prominent cultural symbols of the majority Sinhala community with none from other communities. .... On the whole the curriculum seems to discourage tolerance for viewpoint difference, and sensitivities for the pluralism and diversity of our country‘’ - Friday Forum deeply concerned about leadership training outside university system, Jayantha Dhanapala (former UN Under-Secretary General) and Savitri Goonesekere (Emeritus Prof of Law, University of Colombo), 10 June 2011, http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/1190 iv. ‘’ Secretary of Sri Lanka Ministry of Education H.M. Gunasekara revealed today the plans of giving a similar leadership training program to the principals of public schools as given to the university students’’ Leadership training for the principals of Sri Lanka government schools too, 26 May 2011, http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2011/5/67273.html ‘’Inter University Students' Federation (IUSF) of Sri Lanka says it will launch a protest campaign against the Ministry of Higher Education decision to make the fresh university students undergo a compulsory militaryled leadership training’’ - Sri Lanka university student organization to protest the military led leadership training for students, 21 April 2011, http://www.colombopage.com/archive_11/Apr21_1303362555KA.php 3. Militarisation of teaching force in Tamil schools:
''As part of its community service initiatives the Sri Lanka Air Force opened a Pre-School in Batticaloa on 15th January. This is the first Pre-School operated by the SLAF where Tamil and English will be the medium of instructions. This long felt need was initiated by the SLAF Unit in Batticaloa. The Pre-School will cater to the needs of the children of the Tamil speaking community of the area. It is run by qualified personnel of the SLAF who have undergone specialized training in language and Pre-School teaching. These bilingual learning environments will create a better understanding between different communities and also help to inculcate good ethics within the children'' - Air Force opens Pre-School in Batticaloa, 16 Jan 2013, http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=Sri_Lanka_Air_Force_Batticaloa_Open_the_First_Ever_English_Tam il_Pre_School_20130116_04 Militarisation of teaching force and deprivation of English as second language: Documentary evidence on orders to teach Sinhala as second language surfaces, 7 January 2013, http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=35917 4.Teacher recruitment in Tamil areas not by Dept of Education but by the Defence Ministry: ''As a measure to supplement the shortage of qualifies Pre- School teachers in the North and East 400 youth from the region including rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres have been recruited as Pre-School teachers. Under the directions of the Secretary Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Director General of the Civil Security Department Rear Admiral (Retd) Ananda Peiris had made arrangements to recruit these rehabilitation beneficiaries and civilians to the department as Pre-School teachers’’ Rehabilitated Ex-LTTE cadres to teach at Pre-Schools, 8 December 2012, http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=Rehabilitated_Ex_LTTE_cadres_to_teach_at_Pre_Schools_2012120 8_02 5.Schools are encouraged to promote the image of the armed forces: ‘’a school honouring ex-soldiers in a religious event with dancers in combat dress depicting guns. Vesak cards with roses on guns’’ - The Changing face of Wesak in Colombo and Militarizing Sri Lanka, 15 May 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGhMIgnwZuA
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