Forced to crawl naked at Ruhuna National College of Education | Sunday Observer

Forced to crawl naked at Ruhuna National College of Education

4 December, 2022

The Ruhuna National College of Education is one of the foremost institutions in providing teacher training in Sri Lanka. While the institution seeks to create professional teachers who are in constant demand, its mission is to provide the school system with talented, resourceful, effective and efficient teachers who are professionals who perform their tasks with dedication and passion to meet the national goals of education.

However, the vision and mission of the institute were shattered when on November 26 an incident of ragging was reported from the College.

A group of freshers were allegedly ragged by a group of seniors. According to reports, the students who were ragged were forced to strip and assaulted by their attackers. The incident has caused grave concern, especially as it is an institution creating teachers that would educate the country’s future generations.

Strict action

Accordingly the Minister of Education, Susil Premajayantha has requested the authorities to take strict action against the perpetrators. The incident had occurred just two days prior to the seniors passing out from the college. However, it is now unlikely they will receive appointments as teachers due to this incident as the Minister is said to have taken a strict decision to prevent it.

Students of the Ruhuna National College of Education pass out as teachers after a three-year in-house training program along with practical training in teaching.

The group of seniors consisting of around 30 - 40 students is said to have been in an inebriated state when they had ragged the freshers. According to sources, the group who had received their last year’s education online, had decided the freshers should be ragged as they had not got an opportunity to do so previously resulting in them bringing disrepute to the institution and destroying their own futures in the process.

Some believe the students carried out this despicable act as they had been studying from home, causing concern if they received proper instruction on the social conduct, duties and responsibilities of a teacher.

The incident has also sparked concerns that teachers carrying out such acts would introduce ragging to the school system in Sri Lanka as similar persons are already causing issues and wreaking havoc in the country’s schools and education system by holding children hostage to make many demands including to remove the mandatory requirement of wearing sarees.

The incident at the College was reported to the Akmeemana Police. According to information, 12 freshers out of the 186 students studying in the first year were subjected to ragging. Out of the 186, 173 are females.

While the College has not returned to in-house training as opposed to the online training provided during the Covid-19 pandemic, the seniors who were mostly trained through the latter method were to pass out on November 28.

While the freshers had been tasked with decorating the College for the passing out ceremony, many had been working past 12 a.m. on November 26 carrying out the preparations. It is said one male student had failed to attend as he had left the hostel due to an illness while 12 had remained in the hostel. The fresher students had arrived at the hostel around 2.30 a.m after the completion of the work when a group of visibly drunk seniors barged into their hostel.

Mobile phones

The seniors had first collected all the mobile phones of the 12 students and stripped them naked. Those who opposed were physically assaulted. Outnumbered, the freshers had no choice but to follow the instructions issued by the seniors. The students now naked were then forced to crawl on the floor before getting onto their beds to sleep. The group had tortured the freshers for nearly an hour, before leaving them sleeping in the nude.

While the freshers had informed about the incident to the hostel warden the next morning, he in turn had informed of the issue to the Vice Dean of the faculty. The students were advised to admit themselves to the hospital as they had been physically assaulted. The passing out to be held on November 28, was cancelled in light of the troubling events till the seniors who carried out these acts were identified.

While an internal inquiry commenced into the incident, the College’s Vice Dean Hewa Dewundarage Sarath lodged a complaint with the Akmeemana Police, requesting that action be taken against the attackers.

While the Police have since visited the students in the hospital, they have revealed all the dehumanising acts carried out on them by the seniors. With evidence, the Police had launched an operation to apprehend the suspects.

Hearing the news, seven had come forward and handed themselves over to the Police. Six of them were remanded after being presented before the Galle courts. One student was released on bail. While the others were forced to wait till November 30. However, the Police have since failed to apprehend the other students involved in the incident.