A story of a worn shoe and a callous school teacher
A story ran recently of a pair of slippers been hung around the neck of a student who came to school without wearing slippers.
The student (name withheld) resides in Sumedhankarapura, Seruvila, a village that was targeted by terrorists in the past. She has three brothers and sisters and her father was dead. The family lived in a half built house some portions of which were covered with polythene. Her mother kept the family going by selling dolls and jiggery to the devotees and visitors to the Seruwila Temple. .
Last week the student has gone to the school wearing a pair of slippers because one of her shoes was worn. Her mother R.M. Indrawathie Menike had advised her to go to school wearing a pair of slippers until a new pair of shoes is purchased within a couple of days.
Menike had to get the assistance of the police due to the unexpected trouble faced by her daughter who is a grade five student who was seeking to sit the Grade Five Scholarship Examination this year.
Serunuwara Acting Police OIC M.G. Weeraratne helped the student to buy a new pair of shoes.
Indrawathie Menike related her story.“My husband died one- and -half -years ago. He was a drunkard. When I asked him not to drink, he committed suicide by taking poison. I have four children. My elder son didn’t continue his studies due to poverty and joined a garment factory. I am running a boutique in Seruvila Sacred Area to sell toys to tourists. My third child had a pair of shoes; but one was torn. I didn’t have money to buy a new pair as I had to spend money to buy clothes for the New Year. I advised my daughter to wear a pair of slippers to the school until I buy a pair for her. These days there is no business at all as the arrival of tourists has declined. On the unfortunate day when I went to school to hand over lunch to my daughter I found her crying; two slippers were hung round her neck.
I explained our situation to the class teacher, but she didn’t accept it. She said that if my daughter attends school tomorrow [without shoes] she’ll do the same thing. I went to the police station and lodged a complaint. Police officers bought a pair of shoes for my daughter.
The teacher who punished my daughter is from our village. She knows about our economic difficulties. After the complaint I lodged at the police, two teachers, one of whom was the sister- in- law of the teacher, advised me to tell the media.”
The student who faced the ordeal explained: “My mother told me to wear a pair of slippers for a couple of days as one of my shoes was torn. When I went to the class after Pansil, my teacher asked ‘where are your shoes?’ I told her they were broken and that my mother asked me to wear slippers until she buys new shoes. But the teacher didn’t accept my explanation. Later my mother explained the situation to the teacher, but she didn’t accept what my mother said either. In front my mother teacher threatened me, ‘I will do the same thing if you come to school tomorrow in slippers’. Afterwards my mother went to the Police station”.
However she has expressed her story. “I gave this punishment not only to this student, but another three students also. I did that to maintain discipline. Sometimes this child comes to school with her uncle on a bicycle. This child has a pair of shoes.A couple of days ago she wore them.”
Provincial Education Director N.A.A.Puspakumara explained the action he took.
“As this incident was carried in the media, I appointed a group headed by the Provincial Education Director Douglas Ranasinghe to investigate the matter. Until the end of the preliminary inquiries the teacher concerned has been temporarily transferred”