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Peacebuilding in Sri Lanka needs UNESCO to supervise revision of school textbooks
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,

A.School textbooks have been ill-used to generate conflict:

1.In the last four decades school textbooks have been issued freely in schools to all students. in the last few
years in the army-occupied Northern Province, the President's son issues them in a special function with his
and his father's pictures plastered on the front-cover of those books - people under army occupation are
scared to raise protests against the government. Please note the tweet at the bottom:
2. Successive Sri Lankan governments have been using textbooks to incite hatred against the ethnic
minorities. There have been calls on and off from scholars and ordinary citizens to revise the textbooks by
removing inflammatory text sections:
''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,
'' 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,
3. 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,
4. ''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,
5i. 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)
6.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.
7. 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
.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),
8. 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 politics 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,
B. Education is in a mess:
''Apart from its failure to pursue Reconciliation with determination and coherence, perhaps the saddest
failure of the current government has been with regard to Education. ........ In my systematic visits to the
North and East I have become increasingly aware of despair in this regard. Occasional discussions with
parents and teachers in the South make me realize that the problem is getting worse all over the country'' Educational Mishaps, *Rajive Wijesinhe, 11 July 2014, (*Prof R.Wijesinha is a Minister in
the government)
'Professor Obeyesekeres letter urges President Rajapaksa: another challenge for a wise leader and that is
to bring back the universities to its early glory. As the politicisation of the universities is part and parcel of
the style of the present regimes governance, a call to restore to the universities their past eminence, is no
less than a call to restore good governance in general'' - Fulbright Days And A Plea To Leadership, Emeritus
Professor H.L.Seneviratne, 13 October 2013,
The recent trade union action by university academics and other staff, and the current critique of
educational policies and interventions by students, parents, teachers and members of the public are a
response to multiple crises in the education sector. These problems have not emerged overnight. They
reflect progressive decline including many decades of mismanagement and politicized and ad hoc decision
making. .. Crisis in Education Sector, Jayantha Dhanapala(former UN Under-Secretary-General) and
Emeritus Professor Savitri Goonesekere On behalf of Friday Forum, the Group of Concerned Citizens, 7
August 2012,
. The study showed that households, officials and teachers all condemned political interferences and
thought that it hampered quality of and equity in education. However, the majority appeared to have
accepted that politicians are above the law and that nothing can be done about such interferences. This is
also reflected in low levels of reporting against corruption - Corruption in Education in Sri Lanka, June 2009,
NGOs working for 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, criticising them and expelling some and refusing
to extend visas to others. This government has also 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 countrys 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),

C. Militarisation Militarisation Militarisation

1. Militarisation of the North:
The government began to subjugate the people of Northern Sri Lanka by highlymilitarising the region :
''Army personnel to civilians in the North is nearly 1:5. which is higher than peak-time activity of the US in
Iraq, the UK in Northern Ireland, French in Algeria, Russians in Chechenya and Indians in Jammu and
Kashmir '' - Notes on the Military Presence in Sri Lankas Northern Province, Economic and Political Weekly,

vol xlviI no 28, 14 July 2012,

C.Militarisation of Education:
a.Militarisation of educational administration:
424 candidates who passed the education administration examination and were enrolled in the
administrative service are being given military training at the Rantembe camp under the guise of leadership
training, Joseph Stalin , the secretary of the Lanka Teachers union revealed Sri Lanka heading for military
administration ;424 education officers too given military training, 26 June 2014,
b.Militarisation of educational facilities in the North:
While the school children in the South have IT facilities in school curriculum, those in Kilinochchi have the
*mercy of the occupation army to give them a glimpse into IT on a Saturday:
Kilinochchi Students Learn More About New Telecom Technology, 26 May 2014,
A workshop to enlighten school students in Kilinochchi area on World Telecommunication and Information
Society Day (May 17) was held at Kilinochchi Nelum Piyasa public hall with the participation of more than
600 students on Saturday (24).
Telecommunication exhibition stall, lecture sessions, modern telecommunication technology and
equipment, practical sessions, etc, organized jointly by Sri Lanka Telecom and Security Force Headquarters,
Kilinochchi (SFHQ-KLN) for the event, attracted huge interest and enthusiasm of the visitors to the venue.
Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, Commander, SFHQ-KLN, together with provincial Telecom officials,
General Officers Commanding, Principals, teachers, state officials and students attended the event.
Troops of the 9 Sri Lanka Signal Corps (SLSC) serving the SFHQ-KLN took the lead in arranging the entire
exhibition and the event of technical importance.
( Pl click on the weblink given above and see all the pictures of heavy presence of the top hierarchy of the
army )
* This is to deflect the attention away from the deprivation caused by the wide range of their economic
activities in the occupied North:
c.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,[June%2030%2
''4,000 school principals have been ordered to undergo 45 days of military training and receive military
titles'' 28 February 2013,
Headteachers trained by National Cadets and made berevet colonels - 27 October 2012,

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,
d.Civil society responds to militarisation of education:
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,
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,
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,
e. 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,
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,
f.Teacher recruitment in Tamil areas not by Dept of Education but by the Defence Ministry:

''As a measure to supplement the shortage of qualified 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,
g.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,