World Vision is shocked and saddened to learn about the humiliation and the injustice faced by a Grade 11 student of a school in Weeraketiya (South Sri Lanka) who had been suspended from school for a whole year. The student released a live video on his Facebook page yesterday, walking into his school demanding justice from the principal and the teachers who prohibited him from coming to school for an entire year.
Article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that EVERY child has the right to a good quality education and that they should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level they can. As an organisation that places the wellbeing of children and their development at the heart of our work, World Vision is seriously concerned about this child who has been deprived of his right for education and the impact that he may have suffered due to this action.
As education is a basic right of a child, any disciplinary action that is taken towards a child should ensure continued education. Irresponsible depressive disciplinary actions against a child, such as physical punishment and humiliation will wound their inner being, limiting them from living their fullest potential.
World Vision strongly believes positive disciplinary methods must be used to bring a constructive change in a child. As a country, we have been very slow in being updated on and adopting positive disciplinary methods that are already in use across many countries in the world. Showing children love, care, attention and listening to them can bring out the best in a child than punishments can.
World Vision would also like to remind that child protection is a shared responsibility of the entire society and should have a collective and a holistic approach. EVERY adult has the responsibility to protect children from anything that can harm their development. Any action or measure taken towards a child in any situation must only be aimed at their development and wellbeing.
We greatly appreciate the immediate actions already taken on this incident by the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) as the key legitimated organisation for child protection in Sri Lanka.
World Vision stands with this child urging all the relevant authorities to guarantee justice over this incident.
We also call for the following actions -
- Hastened inquiry into this incident by the relevant authorities, i.e. the Ministry of Education and the NCPA, and bring justice to this child along with a suitable corrective response which will enable him to catch-up with his education. Further, anyone who has violated the rights of this child should face legal action.
- School authorities to ensure all students have equal and equitable access to education and educational resources and the school system must have a standard mechanism for complaints and grievances of students.
- School Authorities to avoid discipline methods that can be deemed as physical abuse according to the Ministry of Education circular 12/2016 ”Ensuring discipline within the school”. A comprehensive legislature must be introduced banning all forms of corporal punishment against children beginning with schools.
- Educators, parents and child protection duty bearers to play a more active role in ensuring that children are made aware of how to report situations where their rights are violated.
- An accelerated national action plan on educating educators on positive, constructive and non-violent disciplinary methods to be in place.
Finally, considering this incident as a lesson learned, we must open a wider discussion on making our society more child sensitive. World Vision Lanka looks forward to joining hands with relevant authorities, private organisations, youth, children and civil society in such a venture for the wellbeing of the children of Sri Lanka.