Ban sought on corporal punishment in Sri Lankan schools

“The Campaign highlights the dangers of physical harm meted out to school children and the severe psychological consequences they could face in adulthood. By now our message has attracted much attention and the support of many parties such as the University Grants Commission, LEADS, Sarvodaya, Hindu Women’s Society, Presidential Task Force on Child Protection and Family Planning Association,” Wickramanayaka said.The panel of speakers who attended the event included Dr. Tush Wickramanayaka – Chairperson, Stop Child Cruelty, Prof. Hemantha Senanayake, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Member UGC, Kamani Jinadasa, Executive Director, Shanthi Maargam, Prof. Savithri Gunasekara, Emeritus Professor of Law and Former Vice Chancellor of University of Colombo, Nayomi Silva, Manager advocacy LEADS, Dr. Chathuri Suraweera, Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, University of Colombo, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, President, Sarvodaya, Sivanandani Duraiswamy, President, Hindu Women’s Society, Sonali Gunasekara, Director Advocacy Family Planning Association and Lalith Senanayake, Parent of a victim child. The proposed implementations of the 1st phase of the proposal include ensuring that a total ban on Corporal Punishment is institutionalized and implemented, implementing the National Child Protection Policy, regulating international schools, circulating all relevant Circulars to all schools and making Principals and teachers aware of same, establishing Child Protection Officers in every school and making all parents aware of above through especially designed material, which can be distributed through schools targeting all school entrants in 2020.Along the short journey, the organizers have successfully concluded several initiatives.On 30th September 2018, at The Walk for Real Change event, ECP 2020 presented a Petition signed by over 3000 committed enthusiasts who want to see Sri Lanka as a nation free from CP and The Pentagon Proposal, which has been developed giving the five overarching key components that are essential to make this a reality was presented to the President. A campaign has intensified to seek a total ban on corporal punishment in Sri Lankan schools.End Corporal Punishment (ECP) 2020 was launched in September 2018 to end corporal punishment in Sri Lankan schools. The Pentagon Proposal’s key members include the President, Minister of Education, Minister of Children’s Affairs, Minister of Law & Order and Minister of Justice. Creations for Real Change Art/Poster & Poetry Competition was also held recently to spread awareness on the matter.In the past, Sri Lanka had promulgated laws and issued Education Ministry Circulars to prohibit corporal punishment in schools.In 1991 Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). But the problem still goes on unabated.Several victims have suffered grave physical harm and some have even been hospitalized. In February 2018 UNCRC issued a red alert to Sri Lanka for failing to ban Corporal Punishment.The ECP 2020 Campaign is organized by Stop Child Cruelty together with the Presidential Secretariat and the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute and is supported by leading personalities as Patrons, as well as an Alliance of Professionals. Dr. Tush Wickramanayaka – Chairperson, Stop Child Cruelty commented on the progress of the campaign at the event. The Principal, the staff and students of Visakha Vidyalaya and Royal College also attended the event.As they discussed about their blue print plan, which is ‘The Pentagon Proposal’ inviting five key stakeholders responsible for child protection to work collectively to ECP, the speakers focused on diverse subjects such as Zero Tolerance on Violence, Accountability in Child Protection, Changing the Law, Global Response to Corporal Punishment, and The Child as a Rights Holder.One of the parents of a victim child also shared their experience. In a context where the same message has become louder and more urgent, the organizers held a media conference today on ‘Progress For Real Change’, discussing the challenges, milestones and the progress of the campaign at Sri Lanka Foundation.