Drunks, drug addicts drawn to unguarded schools

The lack of watchers or security guards is cause for alarm among staff, students and parents.
Nadia Fazlulhaq reports

The principal of a school in the East literally works 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During the day he administers the school, and after hours he remains on the premises doubling as the school’s night-watcher.

Viharamaha Devi Girls’ School: No watchers or security guards. Pix by Mangala Weerasekare and M.D. Nissanka
Colombo North and Central Regional Eductaion office: No security guard

The school is too poor to afford a watchman, so the principal remains on duty day and night during the school term, including weekends, and during public holidays and school vacations.

V. Prapakaran is the principal of Wesley High School, Kalmunai. The school sits on a 15-acre property in the centre of Kalmunai town, in the Eastern province. Unauthorised visitors to the school include vagrants and alcoholics.

“They litter the place with empty bottles and remove the water pumps,” Mr. Prapakaran told the Sunday Times. “The students live in fear of intruders. There are three entrances to the premises. This is a big property. I cannot look after it single-handed.”

At Vijayapala Vidyalaya, in Matale, there is only a daytime watcher. The Central Province school, which accommodates 1,900 students, is frequented by vagrants and undesirables at night. School principal W. G. Dharmapala lives in fear of theft, his biggest concern being the school’s prized 20 computers.

“I cannot even depend on my day watcher, who is often absent,” the principal said. “He is paid Rs.375 a day. We need a night watcher but they demand nothing less than Rs.800 per night. We are not in a position to pay that much,” Principal Dharmapala told the Sunday Times.

At Horowapathana Maha Vidyalaya, in the North Central province, the principal and teachers take turns to mind the school premises. The school has made repeated requests to the provincial education department which transferred the school’s watcher to the divisional education office. Even prominent urban schools are in desperate need of watchers. The majority of these state schools come under their respective provincial councils.

At Viharamaha Devi Girls’ School, in Dean’s Road, Colombo 10, there are no watchers or security guards. The administration has not had a response to its request for a watchman from the provincial education department. A lack of security guards at schools means nervous parents, who are concerned children going early to school and waiting after hours for transport back home.

Last week, the Sunday Times conducted a round of visits to education zonal offices. It was noted that none had security officers or watchers. “There was a break-in and theft recently at the Education Ministry, which is in the middle of a busy part of Battaramulla town,” said Ceylon Teachers Service Union general secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe.

“This raises the question of security at educational institutions, including schools and zonal education offices. A number of state schools around the country have no watchmen.” Of Sri Lanka’s 9,762 schools, 340 are national schools and the balance 9,422 provincial council schools. There are a total of 92 zonal education offices, 300 divisional education offices, and nine provincial education offices.

“Schools without watchers attract drug addicts and alcoholics.” said Mr. Jayasinghe of the CTSU. “Provincial education departments have asked schools to collect money from the parents to hire a watchman. The students at rural schools come from families that can barely afford to feed themselves.”
Earlier this year, 10 students at three leading schools were arrested for stealing 10 school computers worth more than Rs.3 million.

It was found that the students had sold the stolen equipment to internet cafes. Such theft would not have been possible if the three schools had a proper security system.

Ministry of Education Secretary H. M. Gunasekare told the Sunday Times that national schools come under the purview of the Central Government and Provincial Schools under their respective Provincial Councils.

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Other News Articles
Govt. slams door on UNHRC team
President on double tour to Thailand
Main Tamil party wants NE merger
Fear of Jupiter prompts poojas
Lankan cargo vessel detained in Durban
CCTV to monitor moneychangers
Census shows Lanka’s population 20.2 million
Vehicle horn noise level monitoring soon
Souvenir for our silver jubilee next Sunday
Tremor in several parts of the country
WB aid to SL up by $300m a year
One killed, two wounded as bogus cops flee in van
Kandy acid throwing case: Verdict on August 10
Drunks, drug addicts drawn to unguarded schools
SF not aware of strings attached to his release when freed
Airport for Kandy: Agriculture Minister opposes selected location
Madhubashini wins 2011 Gratiaen Prize
Lost-and-found boy reunites with his mother after a year
Gold rush dries up as police take stand by the banks of the Kelani
Cooler days ahead with heavy showers, says Met Dept
War-orphaned minor sold as sex slave to Saudi looking for virgins
Customs seizes record haul of 359 African elephant tusks
Killings go on but on lesser scale: US country report on Lanka
Ocean fish populations dropping to alarmingly low levels
The market forgotten by time
There’s a bark for every snakebite: Banda veda
Firewood, kerosene to the fore as LPG prices soar


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 1996 - 2012 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved | Site best viewed in IE ver 8.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution