Leadership Training Programme : Spotlight falls on Negligence | Sunday Observer

Leadership Training Programme : Spotlight falls on Negligence

A leadership training program for principals in progress
A leadership training program for principals in progress

In February this year, the Principal of Ambalantota Suchi National School, Rohini Kumari Attapattu died in an accident, attempting to climb a rope ladder as part of a leadership training program for Principals, held at the Wayamba Teacher Training Centre in Wariyapola. This unfortunate incident has caused a lot of misery and despair to everyone.

A man has lost his beloved wife, and four children have lost their mother, a great loss that cannot be replaced. The Sunday Observer sought to get the views of concerned authorities in this regard. It has been revealed that the Education Ministry and the Sri Lanka Outdoor Adventure School are alleged to have failed in their duty to meet required standards.

“Backup facilities, first aid, camps with proper equipment that ensure participants’ safety are not up to standard. The organizers have not provided direct hospital access, lacking in maintaining an acceptable number of ambulances for emergencies, to guarantee safety at the leadership training program,” said the Media Secretary to the Education Minister, Kalpa Gayan Gunarathna, speaking to the Sunday Observer.

He said, “Negligence and unsafe measures are the main reasons for the recent death of the School Principal from Ambalantota. Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has instructed to take disciplinary action against 11 officials, including two Additional Secretaries, over the death of the Principal during a leadership training program. The Minister also ordered a Ministerial level inquiry into the incident and the report has been handed over to the Minister.”

Gunarathna said, “The Minister has instructed his Secretary, Sunil Hettiarachchi to implement all the recommendations in the report. Disciplinary action will be taken against the Additional Secretary (School Affairs), who organized the training program, and the Director and Deputy Director of Human Resources Development Unit will also be removed from their positions. Action has also been proposed against the Additional Secretary in charge of the Procurement Division, Chief Accountant, Procurement Division, Technical Evaluation Committee members and the Procurement Committee members.”


“The Sri Lanka Outdoor Adventure School has failed to take adequate safety measures for the officers. They did not have first aid facilities, ambulances and the necessary cables, so that they have been blacklisted. Compensation will be paid to the husband and children of the victim, while the payment of her pension and insurance have been expedited. The leadership training program is temporarily stopped now, and would be restored after the current investigation is completed, which will be notified in due course,” explained Gunarathna. Education Ministry Secretary, Sunil Hettiarachchi said: “The investigation into the recent death of the Principal of Ambalantota is still ongoing. The leadership training for School Principals will not be scrapped solely because of this incident, instead the content and syllabus of the program would be revamped.

This training is important for School Principals, because it helps a Principal to guide the leaders of the future. The program is conducted by the Human Resource Department of the Education Ministry and organized by the Sri Lanka Outdoor Adventure School.”

The Principal, Sri Jayawardenapura Maha Vidyalaya, Kotte, Major D. A. D. Wanaguru explaining the necessity of leadership training for Principals, said; “I too have undergone the leadership training and I believe it is necessary for a School Principal. It helps us build our leadership and management skills, strengthen self-confidence and make us physically and mentally fit.

The Education Ministry should not scrap the training program because of such an incident, which has been caused due to negligence. Off-site activities should be carried out with safety measures and guards should accompany the officers when performing the activities.”

“It is an essential requirement to possess adequate knowledge on the given areas under the leadership training, particularly, before signing the documentation of approval to send the students to a military camp. In that context, it is beneficial that a Principal is given an insight of how a definite leadership program is performed. The experience gained could be put into practice for the benefit of the children. When the Principals have a proper view regarding the process and the consequences of such leadership programs, it would be easier to arrive at decisions related to the well-being of one’s students under similar situations,” explained Major Wanaguru.


However, expressing a different view, Joseph Stalin, President, Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU), pointed out that the military-based leadership program for Principals is totally unnecessary for the education system. He says, it must be ceased. “The good governance government has been unable to stop such unnecessary programs initiated during the regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Ministry of Education should be held responsible for this death.

Activities such as jumping from trees and climbing rope ladders are not necessary for teachers or Principals. It would be better if the government implements sound training programs related to modern teaching methods and the use of new technology in education. A Principal is the administrative head of the school.

He or she should be trained to lead the student body and administration matters, not catch thieves or terrorists,” said Stalin. 


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