Uduvil past pupils oppose forced retirement of Principal

14212836_1163476980378347_3771422380977482932_nMembers of the Past Pupils Associations (PPA) of Uduvil Girls College (UGC) based in the UK, Canada and Australia, in a joint statement, strongly condemn the recent actions taken by the UGC Board and Bishop, Rt Rev. Daniel S Thiagarajah over the forced retirement of Mrs Shiranee Mills as Principal.

The PPA said the move has resulted in the students striking and public discord among the society. Some students have even begun a hunger strike with one student having fainted and being treated at the local hospital’s intensive care.

“It is a fact that UGC had always benefited from being served by her Principals until the age of 70. This obvious past history was completely ignored by the UGC Board and the Bishop, in spite of Mrs Mills writing to the Bishop and the school’s Board, expressing her willingness to continue her service to the school. Mrs Mills was not given any reply to her letter, but the Bishop casually placed an advertisement for a new Principal of UGC on his Facebook page,” the joint statement said.

The PPA said that the manner in which the Board and the Bishop ignored the Principal’s letters, and the contemptuous treatment Mrs Mills was subjected to, indicates the ill-intent of both, the school board and the Bishop.
“Mrs Mills has, through her visionary leadership, selfless dedication and tireless hard work, guided the school to numerous lofty achievements and accolades, not only in the field of education but also in sports, performing arts, visual arts and IT during her 12 year tenure as the Principal. The decision to terminate her services abruptly and so early is, evidently, detrimental to the morale of the students and irreparable damage to the ethos of the School. The continuous protest by the parents and students proves the same,” the PPA said.

The joint statement further noted that all PPAs from around the world, when they learnt of the moves to replace Mrs Mills, wrote letters to the UGC Board and The Bishop, Rt Rev. Daniel S Thiagarajah.

The PPAs outlined valid reasons as to why Mrs Mills’ position merits an extension, requesting that Mrs Mills’s position as a Principal be extended at least for another five years.

“We explained that this would enable her to complete the remarkable process of transformation she has initiated at UGC. These letters were sent out prior to the deadline of accepting new applications for the post of the new Principal. The letters requested a response or acknowledgement from the relevant parties within 7 days. Copies of these letters can be provided upon request. As no response was forthcoming to the letters sent in June, the PPA’s sent follow-up letters to the UGC Board and to the Bishop after three weeks of sending the initial letters, to which we, yet again, received no response or acknowledgement,” the joint statement said.

Mrs Mills was invited for a discussion by the Bishop and his wife Mrs Thayalini Thiagarajah on 15 August 2016. The next day she was informed that her application was rejected and she had to handover her responsibilities and leave the school by 6 September 2016, the day before she turned 60.

On 30 August 2016, a formal announcement was placed on the JDCSI website, informing the appointment of Mrs Suneetha Jebaratnam as the new Principal of UGC. However, there was no mention of Mrs Mill’s termination.
“These acts of totalitarianism by the leadership of The Church of South India, should be exposed to public. This situation must be strongly condemned and immediately redressed by the persons in authority. We strongly affirm that Mrs Shiranee Mills should not have been forced to retire from her position as a Principal. We kindly request you to expose this disparate situation of our school and the individuals who are the instigators of this injustice, as a matter of public interest,” the PPA added.

6 COMMENTS

  1. http://www.ft.lk/article/568070/Uduvil-Girls-College-–-politics-of-education-and-the-challenges-facing-private-schools

    Niyanthini Kadirgamar and Esther Surenthiraraj are researchers with an interest in education.
    The above article by Niyanthini & Esther are within quotation marks and the comments on it are below each quotation!

    “Many Christian missionary schools were established in Jaffna in the 19th century. Among them, the American Ceylon Mission (AMC) was the first to establish missionary schools and an institution for higher studies in Jaffna.“

    Time marches on.
    UGC was established in 1824 by the AMC, has had 9 Principals so far – 4 American & 5 national principals, the last one being Mrs Shiranee Mills.
    “the decision to appoint a new principal by the board which argues that the current principal has reached her retirement age.”
    The newly appointed Principal Mrs. Patricia Suneetha Jebaratnam, was previously the Vice Principal.

    There are three specific units in the school namely, the Primary, Secondary and the Further Education Programme. The school at present has approximately 1,300 students.

    “Jaffna society and its leaders were ill-equipped to deal with the resistance by schoolgirls.”
    The students of the school launched continuous protests and hunger strikes for nearly seven days. – Colombo Telegraph 11Sep 2016
    Parents who supported their children to go on hunger strike are very irresponsible not caring for their children’s health!!! The organisers of this protest are unconcerned about students’ wellbeing.
    “we see schoolgirls descending to the streets, lying in front of the school gate, challenging teachers who attempted to enter the school, and being vociferous in their demands.”
    “The girls resorted to singing familiar Tamil lyrics along with slogans of protest in spite of the violent verbal and physical abuse endured at the hands of teachers and others.”

    Without moving the students the teachers were unable to enter the school!

    “Parents and students are concerned about the quality of education.”
    “Behind the request for the extension of the term of the former principal, in addition to acknowledging her valuable contribution, is the fear of a further deterioration of the school.”
    So you accept that there has already been a deterioration in the quality of education which then has to be addressed and corrected by the newly appointed principal with the help of the Board.

    “The split within the church, which occurred due to conflicts over the appointment of the present Bishop and the formation of another church (Church of the American Ceylon Mission), further complicates the structure and management of the school.”
    Where is this new formation of another church, the Church of the American Ceylon Mission?
    “Corruption and mismanagement of educational funds can also easily creep into the institution.”

    • Men dressed in cassocks were portrayed at the incidents reported on the websites, stirring up the students outside the UGC gates. Who were they and from where did they come because they are not definitely pastors of JDCSI. Surely they can be identified?

  2. These Boards conducted by Priests are of typical nature as displayed in this instant. They the Priest irrespective of weather they are Buddhist Hindus or Christians they are ruthless people who act without scant respect to the what the laymen believe or feel. I taught in a Christian School I met a teacher who remained in the school when schools were taken over by the Govt, throwing out all the great opportunities he could have availed if he joined the Govt. When I met him he was being mal treated by the college governing body. Later he left the school being a frustrated man. His Son in Law later became a powerful Minister and Minister is no more but his wife is a deputy minister of the present Govt. I am a Buddhist even our Monks also of the same nature.

    • Mrs Shiranee Mills, Principal of Uduvil Girl’s College had reached the end of her final employment contract and so a new Principal was appointed. This is the norm that is followed.

      Past Pupils Association of UGC please check the facts and do not be misled. PPA abroad, please wake up to these basic facts

      PPA of Uduvil Girls’ College, please remember that there are always two sides to a story. Before you strike out at a person, remember your school motto.

      Uduvil Girls’ College’s motto is,“The truth shall make you free”. Seek truth and speak truth.

    • Mrs Shiranee Mills, Principal of Uduvil Girls’ College had reached the end of her final employment contract and so a new Principal was appointed.

      Past Pupils’ Association of UGC, please check the facts and do not be misled. PPA abroad, please wake up to these basic facts

      PPA of Uduvil Girls’ College, please remember that there are always two sides to a story. Before you strike out at a person, remember your school motto.

      Uduvil Girls’ College’s motto is “The truth shall make you free”. Seek truth and speak truth.

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