Call to reopen Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya in Jaffna
(Courtesy of the Sunday Observer)
Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya was established in 1937 with six students and by 1971, the number of students was over 1,000.
The students were mostly children of Sinhala families who were living there, children of civil servants and security forces and police working in Jaffna as well as children from Tamil and Muslim families who were assimilated into the Sinhala cultural ethos.
The Sinhala population in the Jaffna district was 20,402 in 1971 and by 1983, it was down to 5,648 due to communal disharmony and resultant terrorism.
The Sinhalese were subject to harassment with LTTE terrorism in the 1970s. Despite the anti-Sinhala atmosphere, some Sinhala families managed to survive until terrorism against the Sinhala population intensified in July 1983. Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya was closed in the same year as a result.
After the defeat of LTTE terrorism in May 2009, the ensuing peaceful condition enabled the Sinhala Internally Displaced People (IDP) to return. Of 150 families that returned in 2010, only about 60 families settledin a small plot of land at Navakkuliya, Jaffna. They have no running water, no internal roads and no schools.
During the previous Government, the then President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe toured Jaffna many times,but ignored to visit the internally displaced Sinhalese at Nawakkuliya, which is 9km from the Jaffna city along the A9 main road.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has ignored Tamils encroaching on State land and land belonging to the Sinhalese.
This includes the encroachment of land belonging to the Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya in Jaffna.
Children of Sinhala families and public servants in Jaffna are compelled to be away from Jaffna for their studies since the only Sinhala School in Jaffna is not functioning.
If steps are taken to restart Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya in Jaffna, it will serve not only the needs of the Sinhala IDPs in Jaffna and their children, but also the Sinhala government employees in Jaffna.