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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Tamil students forced to sing national anthem in Sinhala

Sunil Jayasekara
The Hanwella Lanka Sabha Tamil college is a school where the Tamil children of the area have their education. The national anthem is sung here in Tamil at the morning assembly  and other events. This was the procedure until June 2012.

But in June 2012 the Director of Education for the Hanwella District Mr. Ariyaratna had informed the principal Mr. Thirunambi, that in future the national anthem should not be sung in Tamil. What is important about this is the fact that the Director of Education had given this order  after the LLRC had handed over the report to the President on the 15 of November 2011 and after it had been tabled in Parliament on the 17th of December 2011.

After a group of students reported this to the Centre for Policy Alternatives, the officer in charge of language affairs Mr. Lionel Guruge had inquired about this from the Director of Education Mr. Ariyaratna. Mr. Lionel Guruge told Vimarsanam-Vimansa that the District Director of Education had accepted that he had given such an order. When we questioned the President of the Teachers Union Joseph Stalin about this, he stated that when an inquiry was launched into this, it was found to be true that because of an order given by the Hanwella District Director of Education, the Tamil students have been unable to sing the national anthem in their mother tongue. He further said that, due to this order a severe blow had been aimed at the efforts that should be made towards reconciliation through education.

When Vimarsanam-Vimansa called the District Director of Education on the 5th of April 2013 to inquire into this he stated that he had given such an order. “ Our country’s national anthem was written by a Sinhalese in Sinhala. It is sung all over the country in Sinhala. Even at the recent independence day celebrations attended by the President, in Trincomalee where all three ethnic groups live, the national anthem was not sung in Tamil. The children in this school learn Sinhala as a second language. They can speak  Sinhala. So why should they sing the national anthem in Tamil?” was what he had to say.



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