He said his wife had gone for the training early morning on the 16th on a notification by the Education Ministry. Around 7.00 pm on the following day, he was informed by the principal of Singapore School in Weeraketiya that his wife had met with an accident. “She gave the phone to my wife and she said she was in a serious condition. Later, I was informed that she died while being taken from Kurunegala Hospital to Colombo. This incident proves that no safety measures are followed when military like training is given to teachers,” Abeysinghe said.
Principals and teachers have been given this training to prepare them for contingencies. However, several valuable lives have been lost in this manner due to educational authorities’ not paying attention to their safety and not determining whether they were fit enough to undergo physically-challenging exercises.
Rohini Kumari Atapattu, the mother of four daughters, was 53. Born at Dedduwawala in Beliatte, she started her teaching career as a science teacher at Dedduwawala Junior School in 1987. After getting married on 22 November 1991, she came to live in Ambalantota, where she served at Janapada Vidyalaya in Beragama. She was a graded teacher at Hambantota Junior School in 2008 and was appointed deputy principal of Suchi National School in 2011 and promoted its principal in 2013.
Her eldest daughter Lakshani Madhushika (24) said, “Our mother was like a friend to us. She loved us a lot. Wherever she went she used to call us. She left saying she would be back on Sunday, but she left us forever.”
Sachini Malisha, a student of the school had this to say, “Madam treated us like her own. She looked into every matter. We lost not only a good principal, a good teacher, but a good mother too.”
A teacher, Ven. Mologgamuwe Dhammadinna Thera said, “Our principal loved the school very much. She did a lot for the children’s education and for the development of the school. She supported the teachers to carry out their duties. When a child did something wrong, she did well to save from that wrong. If such training is given, their ages and safety should be given proper consideration.”
Teacher in charge of sports Leelananda Kumarasiri said, “Our school had a very good principal-teacher relationship not seen elsewhere. We were free to point out if the principal made a mistake. Our principal did an immense service to develop the school which was started with 280 students 10 years ago, to more than 1,200 students now.”
“As a sports teacher, what I see is that everybody accepts that such training is not good at this age. I don’t know if it is compulsory. This is the outcome of giving such training at this age. Also, it should be looked into if they are given proper safety because even a young person could die in such an incident.”
Teacher Mala Kanthi Wijesinghe, who was close to Rohini Kumari Atapattu since childhood, said, “I do not believe such training is required for principals. Rohini was to retire in three years. What she did during her whole life was to give leadership. For her remaining few years, such training would not have required at all.”
The funeral of Rohini Kumari Atapattu took place on the 19th at the family cemetery. Her unfortunate fate left a lesson for all that such training should not be given without adhering to required safety measures.