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Review

   
 

A teacher writes about her experiences with children in trouble…


Adolescence -- a difficult stage in life

Today they are laughing
at the way they were….
 

By Thilaka Vivekanandan Wijeratnam 

The bard had said it for he knew humanity only too well. Teenagers are teenagers whether they are Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or Burghers, or Buddhists, Hindus or Christians. They have their own guarded problems — often they get into a mess and knowing not what to do, take drastic decisions — sometimes causing death.

I have been a teacher for  50 long years and after retiring I now teach school children in the various stages of growing up.

Once I was on the staff of a little seaside town — being the senior-most teacher and of long service. I was nominated as the ‘discipline teacher’ too.

It is in this post  that I came across the many adolescents in trouble. The school was a mixed school. One day a little boy of grade five gave me a letter saying that a particular senior boy gave it. In it was written in Tamil, ‘meet me at the paddy field at the 2nd milepost. There’s a hut. Let us……”

An unholy activity

He used a technical term for an unholy activity, which though being a married, mature woman, I did not know till then. The little boy did not understand too. I told him not to go to that place and to tell the big boy that the letter is with me.

The big boy did not turn up for one week. The teachers complained to me about his absence. “I see him in the library,” said one. I replied “Children can learn a lot in the library too.” But I knew why he was absent.

After a week, since nothing happened, he summed up some  courage and came to school. During my classes, he would sit in the back row hiding his bulky form as much as possible. I ignored what was happening.

Emboldened, he moved forward and sat up straight and showed interest in my lesson. At the end of a fortnight I gave a test, on a Friday. On Monday I took the answer papers back to school. This boy had done fairly well. I showed the class his papers and praised his answering method and told the others to follow. He got through his G.C.E. O/L and is now in the Middle East doing a lucrative job.

Hang their heads in shame

Now let us think… had I brought the letter to the principal’s notice, he would have been horrified. He would have sent for the parents who would have hung their heads in shame. The boy would have been caned mercilessly and there would have been a general protest from morally strict staff to not let him stay in school as he would ruin other children. This chain of events would have let him take refuge in the sea or poison or hang from a tree.

Today, whenever he comes on holiday he would drop in to see me with a packet of dates. “Coming here is like coming to a temple,” he would say.

 I don’t feel mighty proud about it, but I can even today see a deep sense of gratitude in his behaviour. I am truly glad that I tackled the  problem without causing a scandal, any humiliation and more importantly without causing a tragedy.

‘Boyfriend-girlfriend’ problem

All along my service in mixed schools I have come across  this ‘boyfriend-girlfriend’ problem. Knowing that these children are going through troubled stages of adolescence, I have coped with problems in the best possible way I could instead of using my strength and power tyrannically.

In mixed schools exchange of letters were a common happening. There were teachers who, if they came across such letters would paste them across the compound walls for all to see. And then the usual drama of calling the parents — dismissing the children so that they would live forever with the stigma.

When some ‘good’ child brings the letter he/she has found I would not utter a word to anyone about it. After school I will go to the home of this love-afflicted child and speak to the mother. That being an agricultural area the father would usually be away in the field. I would give the letter to the mother saying  “Your child is good in studies, advice him/her to concentrate more in studies. Such things are bound to happen in mixed schools.”

Affected by calf love

Today all those big boys and girls  affected by calf love are leading a healthy, happy life. They are married and settled and perhaps laughing over their love stories.

There was this girl — a first class  athlete. She had a problem which the father had come in to report. I was called to the office to hear the case. The father told me his daughter was crying uncontrollably at home saying that she did not want to attend school as the boys in her class were coupling her with another boy in the same class.

This boy happened to be the laziest fellow in the class. “Teacher, punish the boys who tease my daughter. She is crying her heart out. I cannot bear it,” he said. “Why will she not cry, she is a smart athlete and he is a lazy lubber!’

The principal and the vice principal stared at me in disbelief and the father who did not expect this from me could not control his laughter. He stuffed his shawl into his mouth and shaking with laughter went towards his bicycle. The classes had half-walls and the entire school saw what happened. All those teachers and students who were craning their necks to find out what juicy tale they could take home were disappointed when they saw all of us — together with the girl’s father coming out laughing.

Should not embarrass the girls

The girl came to the school thereafter and would blush when she saw me. However I spoke to the boys quietly and made them understand that they should not embarrass the girls in any way.

Of course there were far more serious problems than this and if it happened to be the girls, I was asked to handle the matter. I would ask the child to come to the lab where I was most of the time and help me with the register and slowly question her and advise her as it suited the situation.

Teenagers are like glass — easily broken with a hard word — cracked with an unfeeling word. This is a difficult stage in the life of a child and should be handled carefully.

We as teachers should realise that we have gone through this age and think of the problems we faced,  how our teachers who were educationists from the old school handled our problems. Some of our teachers were missionaries — whatever said and done their approach to teenage problems were quite different to the present day disciplinarians.

What did Tolstoy say?

Everyone thinks of changing  the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.


Preventing dengue in a landscaped garden


A pond in a landscaped garden

By Risidra Mendi

Your home garden is probably the best place to relax after a hard day’s work. The soothing effects of a water feature or the sounds of birds as they take a last dip in a bird bath before calling it a day could be the most relaxing and stress free evening for those of you who have a beautifully landscaped garden.

However with the recent fear of the rapidly spreading dengue mosquitoes many people’s stress levels have increased instead of reducing due to the bird baths and water features they have in their gardens.

Customers planning on landscaping their gardens are now faced with many problems, if they like to have a pond or water feature as part of their garden layouts.

Necessary precautions

However two landscapists have come out with different methods that would prevent the breeding of mosquitoes as well as give their customers that much loved bird bath or pond in their garden.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader Wadula Garden Services Proprietor K.B. Hasantha said mosquitoes always lay eggs in stagnant water. “When we design a garden we make sure to take necessary precautions to prevent these mosquitoes from breeding. If a customer wants a garden layout with a water feature we advice them to put some fish in the pond to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Carps and other varieties of fish prevent mosquitoes from breeding,” Hasantha said.

He added that when he undertakes to build a water feature for a customer he uses a special system, where he connects a timer to the power line that pumps the water. “Water is then pumped by the use of the motor for five minutes to the top of the waterfall and collected. Once the motor is switched off, by the use of the timer the water is released little by little during the course of the day. By using this system the water in the water feature does not remain stagnant and prevents the breeding of mosquitoes,” Hasantha said.

Mosquito breeding

According to Hasantha many customers like to have a bird bath in their garden. “Some customers use a bird bath to have a floating flower arrangement.  If you have a bird bath in your garden it is your responsibility to ensure that is it cleaned every two days to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.

“When designing gardens we encourage customers to refrain from using bromeliads. Bromeliads retain water and this could encourage mosquito breeding. People should also be careful when cutting down bamboo trees. If the tree is cut half way from its trunk, that area could retain water and result in the breeding of mosquitoes,” Hasantha explained.

Hasantha has been in the landscaping business for the past 16 years.  “I love nature and was interested in doing a job related to this subject. I followed some courses in landscaping and then started my own business. Wadula Garden Services has designed gardens, lawns, water falls, ponds, murals and court yards.”

Ornamental fish

Kamal Garden Services owner Kamal Mabogodage told The Sunday Leader that when he designs gardens with ponds he advises his customers to put ornamental fish to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. “However some customers prefer not to have fish in their ponds because they multiply and increase in numbers. Other customers complain that fish eat the plants in the ponds. In such cases we recommend the use of carbo furan. This is a kind of medicine that kills any types of insects. However carbo furan should not be used in ponds that have fish,” Mabogodage said.

He added that customers who have water plants in their gardens can also use carbo furan to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. “One teaspoon of carbo furan should be diluted in a pot of water with a width of two feet. Carbo furan should be used once in two weeks.    Mabogodage has designed over 500 gardens and has been in the landscaping business for the last six years.

So for those of you who still want that bird bath or water feature in your garden it is still possible to have them if the proper methods are followed.


I will be there...

By Ranee Mohamed

Our newspaper offices have been inundated with telephone calls and mail in response to the article titled “The school that failed” published in our issue of August 2.

I wish to point out that this article was not about Musaeus College. It was not our intention to bring the school to disrepute or tarnish its image.

When a child hangs herself in the school premises, what the school is or where it is situated is of little or no importance to us.

If Anuthara Kavindi Jayawardene was a student  from any other school, our article would have been as strong. Newspapers have been called the watchdogs of a nation. Perhaps this is why some of the past pupils of Musaeus College have written so much about ‘female dogs.’

Insults and threats will not scare us, neither will they slow us down. We as a newspaper will do our part in striving to prevent a recurrence of what happened to young Kavindi.

The article and the varied responses have helped to draw countrywide attention to the issue and that is what we want. We want people to be aware of what happened. We want teachers, prefects and staff of every school in the country to be aware of what happened. We want them to know that our pages will always be open to  investigate, report and write about such happenings.

This is the second tragic event at Musaeus College. If there is a third, I will be there again. All of us have our first times… if there is any other case of student harassment, physical abuse let alone tragedy, in any other school, I will be there.

Cannot detect the maithri, karuna and ahimsa in these letters…

Original Message -----

From: j Bastiansz

To:editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 1:49 PM

Subject: Musaeus College 

Dear Editor,

I have been following the tragedy of Anuthara and the letters that followed after the expose by Ranee Mohamed.  My letter addresses mainly the following:

Isuri Ruwinika and the likes of her (Lakmini Weerasinghe, Hemantha Kulatunga, Nilupul Kulathunga, Lizzy Giovanni, Uthpala Chandrasiri) and all others who wrote hatefully and insultingly against Mohamed.

 Isuri, your tone and attitude is questionable. Is this what your “great school” taught you? To kill and hate? Where is the Maithri, Karuna, Ahimsa that the Lord Buddha taught during his lifetime? Anyway, what Mohamed wrote was what she learnt. One point she has proved right is that the police state the mobile phone did not belong to Anuthara. Whose was it then? Is the owner of the mobile phone disciplined for the loss of the young life? It is upto to the school to clear its name. 

 Your hatred/feeling to kill her.... well this tells me something is drastically wrong with your dear school. Is this the product that the school puts out? Is this the product that enters the universities and aren’t the universities having to deal with such run-off-the-mill products? Is this what your “dear school” taught you on how to respond to something that you don’t like even it you are right or wrong? Don’t you respect others’ opinion? Hasn’t your school taught you to accept correction/criticism or have they indoctrinated you with “I am right, therefore all others are wrong” attitude?

 Here’s one project  the relevant minister could undertake. Carry out a census to find out the percentage of Musaeus College girls attending campus’ islandwide and those involved in the recent disturbances and incitements. I for one would not be surprised, taking the cue from the tone of the mail sent to the editor of this newspaper by Isuri.

Lakmini, you ... “acknowledge that there was a mistake on the part of the school, or parents, or both...” but you don’t like to tarnish the name of the school. Well...it could have been so, if the school had  apologised for the incident and extended its sympathy to the bereaved parents. No such act.... Anyway one has to take stock if there are two suicide incidents within the school premises  within a span of two years. Will this be an annual event like the sports meet?

 Hemantha.. “The two bit writer as a journalist” did her duty to society.  She has requested (and even the Editor says...) the school for its side of the story but the school has still not given any story. Is there something to hide?

 Neither I and my wife or children were ever abused or punished in school during our times. Discipline was of utmost important. The teachers or masters had no power to punish a student. It was only the principal and that too in his office. If the offence has been repeated by the same student then a warning is given at the assembly and the student named. If it is repeated, then caning just after the assembly.

 All of you vouch that you have not seen a student kneel down during your school life at the College... Well there it is... Does this mean that there was (is) no discipline at all ?

 Well.. Ranee you need to reply to Eliza Giovanni. But what I would like to ask Eliza and the rest is this... What if this review and report had been filed by some else... like for instance a Perera, Peiris, Silva, Fernando, Singho,  or Appuhamy? Will you come out so strong and say that you feel like killing, calling her names such as two bit writer, dog/bitch? ... I doubt it. And all these from past students of the “Great School.”  Oh I shudder thinking of the next generation of leaders that this school churns out.

Oh Justice... where art thou? 

J. Bastiansz


‘Guys, see what this bitch has written…’ 

Original Message -----

From: Chathurka Jinasena

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 4:02 PM

Subject: Regarding Kavindi’s case..... 

Ms. Ranee Mohomad,

How dare did you insult our beloved school this much ? do you have any anger towards mother Musaeus ? What do you know about our respected teachers and our dear prefects and the others ?

I simply don’t have anymore names to call you rather than an idiot for the things that you have mentioned in your stupid article and that I don’t want to call you madam. Though your article might have made this news paper get sold out like hot cakes, your stupid article made me feel really angry and on the one hand it made me feel sad too.

As a present student of Musaeus College of grade 11 I know how our present teachers guide us and how they give their fullest support for our own success!

Most of all I’m being taught by both these two dear teachers who have handled this girl’s case. One of them is my Geography teacher and the other is my dear History teacher. ( I don’t want to mention their names). So I myself have a very good understanding about them. I mean both those two teachers are such good, kind teachers. So how the hell did you insult my school and our teachers this much without even knowing about them?...How, How, how the hell did you write such a thing you idiot ?

Guys, just see what this bitch has written — “ the only thing that Musaeus can do now is to tarnish her good name and make her look like a bad girl who committed suicide.” What the heck is this?

This girl who committed suicide didn’t have the strength to tolerate the thing which happened. In fact what I can say is she has never loved her parents, the school or at least her boy friend. Otherwise she wouldn’t have done such a silly thing!

I beg you all…isn’t it unfair we Musaeites being called ‘thondu college,’  ‘ellena balika’ and all sorts of other names just because of a single student who failed to tolerate her self?

Next, I would like to ask you Mr/Mrs/Miss Jaya who has drawn the picture of three girls kneeling down on the play ground (page 14) whether you have seen a Musaeite kneeling like that? Ever ? You bloody idiot, I’m kind enough to teach you a little bit about our school though you have drawn such a silly looking picture to publish in this leading news paper. We girls have Never got punished on the play ground like how it indicates in your stupid picture and they have never let us to kneel down , not even inside the school building.

Dear editor of The Sunday Leader news paper, would you please be kind enough to reveal only the truth and correct the false stuff that you people have published until now in  the very next issue.

 Thanking you,

Yours truly,

C. Jinasena

May the Triple Gem bless Musaeus College for ever !

Give it up girls!


Please keep writing 

Original Message -----

From: Roshan Aly

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 2:40 PM

Subject: Musaeus College 

I really appreciate your courage to highlight the truth about the tragedy at Musaeus College. I read all the e-mail and the letters which appeared last Sunday, none of them were able to answer the three questions.

1. What happened to the School Medical Unit?

2. Why no one tried to remove or loosen the tie?

3. Why did they take her to the private hospital instead of the Accident Service?

The reasons are obvious. They don’t want her to survive because the truth will come out. Everybody knows that if anyone is taken to Accident Service the procedures are tough and they cannot meddle with the statement.

The e-mail sent by Isuri Ruwinika was horrible. Every one has the right to comment and critise; but the language used by Isuri is disgusting. This shows the quality of  her character, a Musaeus College product. An educated person will never use the word ‘bitch/dog’ and also the dead person should be respected. It is very pathetic to see her mentioning as DEAD SCHOOL GIRL as a subject. What a product of Musaeus College!

If you really want justice, the parent of Kavindi should file a case against the Principal and Musaeus College for murder.

 Keep it up Ranee Mohamed and keep writing.


Learn to present arguments in a respectful manner 

Original Message -----

From: RLJ

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:36 AM

Subject: Regarding the comments on “The school that failed” 

I’ve seen a lot of letters from current and former students of Musaeus College protesting the “tarnishing” of the school’s good name. I’m sad to say that my old school’s name is being tarnished by some of those very students — the language used and the sentiments expressed are deplorable. I believe that this is not a reflection of the education imparted by the school today.

I hope that the majority of the students come away with the ability to express their opinions and present their arguments in a coherent and respectful manner.

Most of us do not know enough of the facts about the tragedy that occurred to place blame with anyone at this point. In any case what’s important now is to not add to the terrible suffering of the parents, and to examine what each component of society can do to better carry out our responsibilities to understand and nurture our cherished young students.  

Romaine


Shocking and shameful responses by past pupils 

Original Message -----

From: mountainview

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 5:07 AM

Subject: The School that failed 

Dear Ms. Ranee,

I have read with much sadness all that has been written with regard to Kavindi. As a mother of a daughter, 23 and a son 18, I can feel the pain of mind that is going through the parents of this girl. What heart aches for them to read what has been written about their beloved daughter and the school that they chose for her hoping that she will become  a well balanced grown up. My thoughts are with them in this time of grief.

 It is now too late to debate who is at fault as Kavindi is no more and no one will ever face the truth, as we have seen in this country over and over again many times in all spheres. Kavindi just turned 14, was stepping into adulthood.

It is a difficult age to handle, for parents, teachers, the school and above all for her. I do not know anything of the mother, the stern father (as said of him) or the school, but I do know one thing that Kavindi’s little heart could not take all this. The shame and humiliation that she was going to face killed her.

Not every child is the same. Some are hard nuts, come what may. Some die of shame internally as they are so very sensitive and are unable to face the situation. For some the scar of shame will be there for many many years. So it is up to the persons who are there in that circumstance to help out, in this instance the school.

After all the only sin she had committed was breaking one of the school rules of bringing a mobile phone! It may or may not have contained any thing obscene, but the situation should have been handled in a much better way by the teacher/mothers there, as I am sure they too have children of their own and if only they had thought, if this had happened to my child…….

And now reading through all the letters, it was shocking and shameful to find the students who have studied in that school, using such strong words and foul language on the journalist in defending their school. Isuri Ruwanika has gone to the extreme of calling her a bitch, bloody lady. She says that they have all become good, loyal and well disciplined citizens and they have been guided in the correct path!

I have my doubts on that. If that is what she is, one wonders whether writing like this was also taught by the school, for who else would have shaped their life to make them write in this manner. All the students of the school who have written in, have passed judgment, without sparing a thought for Kavindi’s state of mind at the time this happened. Is this what Buddhism has taught you, to say that only failures and losers commit suicide? Where is the love and compassion for a fellow being that the Lord Buddha taught of?

All these reflect who we have become in spite of the educational institution. Please learn not to pass judgment, as, we all know that, we are judged according to our actions only after death, so what right have we got to judge other people?

Let this not happen ever again to any child. Times have changed. We have to make every effort to understand our children, be sensitive to their feelings and thoughts, and help them face the challenges in life as every child is different and unique.

Collectively we all have to play our part, be it parents, teachers, schools or the religious institutions and not leave it to one or the other the responsibility of our children as it is the education we get as a whole that makes us what we are.

Rani Jesudian

Nugegoda


About ‘Musaeus hang your head in shame!’ 

With reference to the letter published under the above headline sent to us via Desmond Z. de Silva’s email, De Silva contacted us to say that did not author the said letter but had merely forwarded it to us.

The said letter did come to us from several other sources during the past few days. 


No person is infallible…and no school is infallible 

Original Message -----

From: Romesh Savanghan

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 2:23 PM

Subject: In the name of Musaeus College 

It is very disappointing to see that the key issue of teenage suicide was not addressed by most responses but an extreme defensive taken towards protecting the loved school was at place. I think the old girls, the public and everyone concerned should realise that the article was not meant to disrepute the school, but to in fact point out the horror of teenage suicide that exists in Colombo schools as well as rural outstation ones.

 It further has to be noted that the death of a child within school premises under any circumstance falls under the responsibility of the school. The school becomes the custodian of the children from the time the child enters through the school gates till the time they leave. That is why children need to follow rules and regulations within school, and whatever they do outside school is their own business.

 There is inconclusive evidence (even though a lot of accusations) of the young girl being mentally unstable. It is up to the school’s teaching staff to identify this and report unusual behaviour of students. Had she been unstable, one needs to ask the question whether they would actually agree to enroll this student without any treatment stipulations?

 The fact remains that even though the school in question may be a good reputed Buddhist school, this has not been an isolated incident. Thus we are curious to pose questions into the schools practices. How many child suicides do we need to see before we take a stand?

 Schools may pride themselves of glorious achievements through longevity, but when students lives are at risk, we need to question our educational model and ask the question, “how can we curb teen suicide?” Or “how can we better equip our teaching staff to recognise the signs or teen suicide?”

 Children spend most of their learning lives in teaching institutions where they basically simulate adult life through adolescent decision making which is in desperate need of guidance. We need our learning facilitators to help them bridge this knowledge gap and identify those individuals struggling (for some cases).

 Instead of pointing the finger, we should take this as a very steep learning experience to make sure that history does not repeat itself. In the world we lead, no person is infallible. Neither is a school.  


Let us stop dehumanising each other 

Original Message -----

From: Nicola Perera

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2009 9:12 PM

Subject: Complete Letter from Nicola Perera re: In the Name of Musaeus College 

Dear Editor,

I am deeply concerned by the intense prejudice and prudery apparent in the letters by ex-students of Musaeus College, by some readers sympathetic towards the young girl and her suffering parents and in Mohammed’s original article.

1. It is unnecessary to portray Kavindi as innocent, childlike, virtuous and unspoilt in order to emphasise the tragedy of her,  taking her life.  I am not contesting the veracity of Tennakoon’s account of Kavindi and her family.  I say that Kavindi’s and her parents’ characters are absolutely irrelevant against the ultimate fact that in a moment of abject hopelessness and helplessness, this child chose to commit suicide. 

Even if she had owned the mobile phone, even if she was interested in the opposite sex, even if the alleged nude pictures had been of her, none of this would in the least detract from the horror of what must have gone through her mind in those final few moments.

The magnitude of Kavindi’s and her parents’ suffering does not depend on, is not in direct proportion to, their imagined or real virtues.  Even if this family had been ‘dysfunctional’ in most Sri Lankans’ eyes, if I cannot empathise with and feel compassion for this young woman and her family, then I’d say there is seriously something wrong with my humanity.  

What are we implying here?  That if this had been a different young woman, ‘boy-crazy,’ ‘loose’ and ‘fast,’ this would be less of a tragedy?  That she would have deserved the humiliation of being exposed as a teenager with a growing interest in sex? Would she have been right to have killed herself, because of the “shame” she brought upon herself, her family and her school?     

Why the compulsion to prove the middle class respectability of this family?  Would Kavindi’s death have been less of a tragedy if she had gone to something other than an elite school?  If her parents had been an alcoholic and a housemaid in Dubai?

2. It is equally unnecessary to represent the school authorities and the prefects as cold-blooded, inhumane monsters.  Yes, something clearly went wrong here.  Yes, the adults around her failed.  Yes, there is an issue here if the school prefects were harsh.  Yes, perhaps there was malice and petty displays of power by both the students and the teachers concerned.

No, they could not have predicted how their attempt to discipline Kavindi would turn out. 

It is the moral outrage behind the discipline that is perverse and typical of mainstream Sri Lankan society.  Make no mistake, we are all culpable in Kavindi’s death.

3. Corporal punishment is endemic to the Sri Lankan education system, especially in boys’ schools and perfectly legitimate in the eyes of misguided educationists and parents.  What are we objecting to here?  That Kavindi should not have been made to kneel because she was a girl?  Girls should not suffer corporal punishment, because they cannot take it?  But boys cannot be controlled and brought in line, except through physical violence? 

What is the essential difference between a 15 year old boy and a girl of the same age that justifies corporal punishment for one and not the other?  Does the lack of ovaries, breasts and vagina actually mean the boy feels less physical and emotional pain than the girl?

Corporal punishment exists in our schools in defiance of national and international child protection laws and standards.  The day we hold parents and education institutions accountable to them, we can begin to teach our young men and women that violence is not integral to their identities and relationships.

4. We do not need to prove Kavindi’s ‘sanity’ or her emotional stability.  If she had been clinically depressed, if she had been under therapy or medication, her suicide would still be every bit a tragedy. 

There is nothing wrong with mental illness. 

The article features an interview with a member of the medical profession.  For what bizarre reason what is it necessary to state that most of the people he has treated, who have attempted to poison themselves, were not in fact mentally ill? 

Anyone who can overcome the most powerful instinct for self-preservation to kill themselves is mentally ill.  Rather than attempt to recoup a measure of respectability by denying mental illness, we would do better to start thinking of mental illness as something other than pissu.

There is no shame in being a person with depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, uncontrollable anxiety etc.  There is no need for pity or shame. 

  There is shame in clinging to medieval prejudices about mental illness.  It says more about our society that we still stigmatise the mentally ill than about the mentally ill we marginalise.

For pity’s sake, let us try to stop dehumanising each other.

Thank you.

Nicola Perera


‘Don’t you know the difference between Ranee and a dog?’ 

Original Message -----

From: Bunny Mutaliph

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 8:39 PM

Subject: Shocking 

Dear Ms Frederica Jansz,

Ref ‘Your reporter is a female dog’

It’s shocking to have read a so called past pupil of the now infamous school writing against a well known reporter namely Ranee Mohamed. The writer seems to be so proud to be called a Musaeite because she had become a loyal well disciplined citizen and that they have been guided and shown the correct path. Indeed they have been guided but I do not know in which way, because in the first place she cannot distinguish a male from a female  by the name Ranee. She may have heard this name or read this name several times and it’s a surprise she pretends not to know the difference. What is so glaring is her gutter language which she has used with no respect to the school she had attended or to any woman for that matter. So, is she a product who thinks that her language will make her feel proud and praised by the general public for her utterances? My foot.

 Oh, what a shame she has no respect even for the small girl who had to leave this world, calling her names just to safeguard  the name of her former school. Doesn’t she even respect the dead child’s parents who must be going through so much of grief having read her message. If she is a mother or a sister, of a child who is no more, will she be tolerant of such remarks made by  heartless people?

 She expects the reporter or the newspaper to apologise for writing about her school. Well, first and foremost, the writer must do so because she has brought discredit to her school and her friends by writing a crude article attacking a well known reporter in such an unlady like manner. Does she want the people to expect, that her type are the ones rolling out of the school into society with no breeding at all? We should  respect the past pupils of not so prestigious schools in minding their language specially when they write to newspapers.


Please don’t stop highlighting social issues 

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Jayanthi Gunewardena

Date: Aug 18, 2009 10:00 AM

Subject: Anuththara Kavindi Jayawardena

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk 

Dear Editor

The death of Anuththara Kavindi Jayawardene

Thank you for having the courage to continue to discuss the very sad ending of 14 year old Anuththara Kavindi.  I hope this will ensure that it never happens again at Musaeus College and also that the eyes of parents, teachers, educational officials open to the major problem facing our younger generation.

The letters written by past pupils are a very sad reflection of this prestigious school.  It may be done with the intention of protecting the reputation of the school, but the tone, language and malice used only makes one reflect on what they have learnt in school.

The fact that this is a very small minority, thankfully is the only saving grace. Therefore, it would not be fair to judge the school by the letters to the editor by a couple small minded, uneducated (not in terms of grades) bitter people.

I sincerely hope the students and parents who know what actually happened that fateful day find the courage to come up with the truth.

Otherwise, it will be a hard life to live knowing that they did not stand upto the truth. 

I was very impressed with the courage of the man who came on TV with what he saw, in spite of real dangers in Angulana.


Has the country gone to the dogs? 

Original Message -----

From: infotbh

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 12:40 AM

Subject: 16TH AUGUST 2009-Correction in Spelling “Taught”. 

A  blooming flower fades away within the school premises….” This is with reference to the  article by Isuri Ruvinika  under the heading,

 “ WITH  REGARD  TO  THE  ARTICLE  ABOUT  DEAD  SCHOOL  GIRL”   in today’s (16th) edition of The Sunday Leader.

 As a parent of two grown up daughters, I am shocked at the language used by this person who claims to be a past pupil of  Musaeus College which she claims is a highly respected Educational Institute. If this was the English Language that was taught to the students of this school during her time as a student, it is no wonder that the country today has gone to the dogs.  Off-Springs of such parents during the past 100 odd years are then the cause for such destruction in the country today.  They have no respect when addressing another nor do they feel the pain of mind of a parent who has lost a young daughter nor do they have respect for the person who’s life has been lost in vain.

 Further, this lady emphasises that “ According to the religion I believe in, only  failures and losers commit suicide.” Dear Madam, according to the religion you believe in,  what category do you belong to, for having threatened the editor of this paper with death ? 

 You have correctly informed the general public of the very high standard of discipline and education given to you by your  so-called second mother.

 Is the discipline and education in our schools moving in the wrong direction?  I, together with my family offer our deepest sympathies to the parents of this girl.

R. Maloney

Tangalle


God help Musaeus  

Original Message -----

From: Dr. S. Abeyesundere

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2009 8:01 PM

Subject: The Student Suicide At Museus 

If the vituperative, vitriolic and crude email on this topic by the reader named Isuri Ruwinika is an example of the type of person that a Museus education produces, then indeed, as another reader pointed out, God help Museus. Such help is direly needed. 

Dr. S. Abeyesundere

USA


The truth has hurt…

Original Message -----

From: Ruveena Cader

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 12:26 PM

Subject: Tragedy in the name of Musaeus College 

Well done Ranee!

The truth hurts..... and Isuri Ruwinika’s letter says it all about Musaeus....

 Keep up the good work...

Ruveena Cader


Name of the brave man

Thank you

Bunny Mutaliph

Editor

When I sent the e mail earlier I did not have the name of the brave man who came out with what he saw at Angulana - but I do have it now - I got it from The Sunday Times -  Damith Kumara.  If you are going to publish my letter, please include the name instead of ‘the man’

Thank you.


What has the school taught Ruwinika about tolerance? 

Original Message -----

From: Hemantha Ekanayake

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 12:48 PM

Subject: Meusues Collage 

I am not commenting any thing on the dead  young girl or the collage which I know nothing about except what the  media says. But thought of writing a few words about the  letter addressed to The Sunday Leader Features Editor Ranee Mohamed by Ms.Isuri Ruwinike.

Ms.Isuri Ruwinike’s angry comments reveals the fact that she has  not learnt from her great school any thing about tolerance. The language she has used in her letter is terrible and one would  wonder whether she has gone to  any school. For me it is not The Sunday Leader writer who damaged the image of Meuseus Collage but Isuri Ruwinike herself.

 A Reader


Suicide at Musaeus College 

Nihal Ratnayake

DEHIWELA 18th August, 2009 

The Editor

Sunday Leader

Leader Publications Pvt. Ltd.

24, Katukurunduwatte Road

Ratmalana

Thanks for publishing the letters sent by former pupils of the School.

The language used in some of the letters is a good pointer to the values imparted at the school.

Nihal Ratnayake


Honest approach to an article 

Original Message -----

From: udara hettiriachchi

To: editor@thesundayleader.lk

Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 7:12 PM

Subject: Thank you for being bold enough to say what has to be said 

Dear Madam,

This e-mail is with reference to the article  The school that failed that was pubilshed in your August 2nd edition. Though its been 2 weeks since the article was published, I would simply like to say thank you for highlighting the weaknesses of our school systems, outdated beliefs & possessing the kindness & sensitivity to understand the plight of Kavindi’s family. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen such a honest approach to an article published about an incident like this in our country. May The Sunday Leader continue to go from strength to strength. 

Thank you!

U.H.

 

 

 

 

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