South Asia



Lanka PM Ranil Wickremesinghe appeals to parents to send their children to school without fear

Ranil Wickremesinghe Photograph:( Reuters )
May 20, 2019, 08.09 PM (IST)

Sri Lankan government on Monday appealed to all parents to send their children to school without fear, as the country tightened security ahead of the reopening of some Catholic schools Tuesday for the first time since the Easter bombings.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe requested all students to return to school and resume academic activities as usual since the country's security has been restored to normalcy.

The Prime Minister made this request while addressing a press conference at Temple Trees today.

During the briefing, Wickremesinghe also emphasised that permission will not be granted to set-up Sharia universities in the country, the Sunday Times reported.

"We can only permit the establishment of degree awarding institutes. A legal order must be issued to bar any institution from functioning as a Sharia university," Wickremesinghe noted.

He also added that all Madarasa institutions will be brought under the Education Ministry in future.

Several private Catholic schools will reopen Tuesday after Easter holidays were extended because of the suicide bombings on three churches and three hotels in which nearly 260 people were killed.

Following the attack carried out by local Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ), the authorities closed all the schools until further notice. The government schools were reopened early this month, but attendance has been low despite new security measures.

Army chief Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake requested all parents to send their children to school without fear due to the security measures which are in place for students.

Issuing a special statement, the Army Commander observed that parents were reluctant to send their children to schools owing to several "unconfirmed stories, various rumours and gossip" which were being shared among the people.

The Army chief emphasised that operations which are currently underway to apprehend those involved in the Easter Sunday terror attacks are "effectively advancing" with a "marked progress" at present.

"A satisfactory level of attendance of employees at private and state sector has been reported in the recent few days...," he pointed out adding that the situation was being restored to normalcy due to the heightened security measures in place.

He also said that the Armed Forces and the Police have launched a joint programme to prevent the occurrence of more violent acts in retaliation to the recent terror attacks.

On the same lines, he added that a special security network involving security forces played an instrumental role in protecting all Buddhist places of worship to ensure that peace prevails during the Vesak Festival celebrations.