School principal dies during ‘Rope Climbing’
Rope climbing is a sport in which competitors attempt to climb up a suspended vertical rope using only their hands. Rope climbing is practiced regularly at the World Police and Fire Games.
In Sri Lanka, with more emphasis on leadership training, the youth who are aspiring to become future leaders are wooed to undergo various types of physical training, some of which are indoor and most of it being outdoors.
School principals are also ‘roped’ into these physical training activities in the expectation that they would pass on their experiences to their students who are being groomed as future leaders.
The former Principal of Tzuchi National school Rohini Kumari Atapattu (52), the mother of four daughters, opted to undergo this training as she felt that it would help her brighten the future of so many children. She thought that the training would help her to widen their outlook and also make them successful future leaders. In the aftermath of the Tsunami, the Taiwan Government’s Tzuchi Foundation launched the Tzuchi village in Hambantota to provide those displaced people with houses. This foundation established the Tzuchi National School as a gift to the children of this village affected by the Tsunami. Inaugurated as the Tzuchi National School it was soon added to the National School chain of the Education Ministry.
Rohini became the second Principal of this school. She was the wife of Thilakarathne Abeysinghe an administrative officer serving at the Hambantota District Secretariat. They were residing in a rented house in Mayurapura Hambantota. They had purchased a plot of land in Mayurapura with the idea of constructing a house of their own.
Rohini had been participating at a leadership training in Wariyapola in the Kurunegala District. During one of the events which was Rope Climbing, she had lost her grip of the rope when attempting to come down. She had lost her balance in the process and fell to the ground sustaining injuries to her head. She had been rushed to the Kurunegala hospital, but was later transferred to the National Hospital Colombo where she passed away.
Her husband stricken with grief and shock related the events of this pathetic episode.
“We lost a mother under very unfortunate circumstances. My earnest request is to conduct an inquiry into this incident. As a Government servant I have reason to believe that sufficient security measures had not been adhered to by the authorities. I have my suspicions regarding this issue. My wife had taken part in many training programmes held in Rantembe and Kuda Oya. She informed me that security systems were very good at these locations. When she was notified of this programme, she asked for my permission. Despite there being some shortcomings we agreed . Now I demand justice for the sake of my four daughters. The eldest Lakshani, is a trained laboratory technician, the second Dilini a trained nurse, the third Piumi is HNBIT and the youngest Isiri sat for her O/Level Examination. My wife had much dreams about their futures. I do not know how they are going to be realized,” said Abeysinghe.
Lakshani in a tearful manner stated that her mother had looked after the members of the family so well and that they can’t get over her absence. They were anxiously awaiting the day when they would move into their own house
Lakshani in a tearful manner stated that her mother had looked after the members of the family so well and that they can’t get over her absence. They were anxiously awaiting the day when they would move into their own house. These hopes are now shattered.
Rohini’s mother, being unable to bear the news of the tragic accident, said that the deceased was the first of four children she had mothered. She received her appointment in 1987 to the Deduwala school. After obtaining her external degree she functioned as the Principal and later was appointed as the Principal of Tzuchi National School. She said that she just could not understand the logic behind providing an army training to principals.
The Hambantota Zonal Director of Education A.G. Samanthi, speaking to the media, said that as Tzuchi National School also came under the ambit of national schools, this academic institute too was listed for the training programme. “This programme is conducted by the Human Resources unit of the National Schools. It is a pity that we lost a skilled Principal in the process,” said Samanthi.
Rohini had been participating at a leadership training in Wariyapola in the Kurunegala District. During one of the events which was Rope Climbing, she had lost her grip of the rope when attempting to come down
The Divisional Secretary of the The Ceylon Teachers Association Hambantota M.P.S. Chinthaka demanded an investigation into this unfortunate death of the principal. The authorities should first look into the shortcomings presently experienced at all schools before deploying Principals to do ‘Rope Climbing’. Instead of forcing them to undergo military training they should provide training in human relations and tap the physical resources that are available. It is regrettable to known that the authorities had not learned a lesson from the earlier death of another Principal during a training of this type.