(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – A report published in several national newspapers that children in eight Dimbulagala villages have stopped going to school due to lack of food is false, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.
PMD said the Polonnaruwa District Secretary, Dimbulagala Divisional Secretary, Zonal Education Director, school principals and local residents confirm that the relevant newspaper reports are false.
On Monday, October 31, 2022, four major national newspapers in the country have reported with a headline by the journalist in the name of Manampitiya Nimal Jayaratne that “children in 08 Dimbulagala villages have stopped going to school, and due to food shortages, they are again digging wild yams and eating forest leaves.”
The Polonnaruwa District Secretary W. A. Dharmasiri and Dimbulagala Regional Director of Education in response to a written inquiry made by the President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake have informed that the said news is false.
Dimbulagala Divisional Secretary and other officials have gone to Dalukana area, the main village where the adivasis (aborigines) reside, to investigate the claim and had discussions with the adivasi leader Ms. K. Lissinona.
The adivasi leader, on whose statement the newspaper based its story, has stated that there are families with economic difficulties, but there are no children in the village who have completely skipped school due to lack of food.
Officials including the Divisional Secretary have inquired about this from several local residents, and they have also stated that the news mentioned in the newspapers is not true at all.
They have said that their children do not have a lack of food to eat forest leaves and some children go to school intermittently due to economic difficulties and parents’ reasons or because of the addiction of adults to drugs and it is a very common case in the village.
The Divisional Secretary and the Zonal Director of Education have discussed this with the principal and the teaching staff of Dalukana Maliadeva Primary School and with the parents who were present at the school at that time.
The parents have also stated that the news is an unacceptable false news and that every day two meals, morning and lunch are provided for the children by the school, and not only food, but also clothes, books, pens, pencils, book bags, etc. are given to the children with the intervention of the principal.
The principal has also informed that there are no children in that school who do not come to school continuously as mentioned in the newspapers.
The Divisional Secretary, who investigated this further, stated that when he went to school this morning, he saw that a nutritious lunch consisting of five dishes had been prepared to be served to the children.
The principal said that outside philanthropists help for that, and besides food, philanthropists help her school in addition to the government for all the needs of the children.
The granddaughter of the Adivasi leader K. Lissinona also comes to this school and the child herself has stated that everything is given to her as well by the school.
The principal who further spoke on the news said she was surprised and saddened by reading this news and that there are no children in her school as stated in the newspaper.
The team of officials have also visited the Sorivila Tamil Junior College and Sinhala Junior College to investigate this matter, and it has been mentioned that in both the schools, morning and afternoon meals are provided for the children and there are no children in their schools who do not attend school continuously due to lack of food.
The principals of those schools pointed out that there are children with economic difficulties and especially that there is a situation where a few children come to school intermittently due to the lack of parental desire, but the parents are informed and steps are being taken to avoid it.
However, they further emphasized that there is no situation of children not coming to school due to lack of food as stated in the newspapers.