Mother Of Disabled Child Complains To HRC Against Visakha Vidyalaya Over Denial Of Access To Classroom

A mother filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging that the principal of Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo, Sandamali Aviruppola, rejected repeated requests for a ground floor classroom for her disabled daughter.

The daughter, a Grade 8 student at Visakha Vidyalaya, has a disability from birth. She cannot walk and uses a wheelchair. She has been a student of Visakha Vidyalaya from Grade 1. However, for the past three months, she had to stay at home since her classroom is in the third floor of a building.

Speaking to Asian Mirror, the mother of the child said that although she requested several times, school authorities did not take any action to resolve the matter.

Earlier her father used to carry her to the classes but school authorities have informed him to not come often. School authorities have informed that it was ‘not suitable’ for a father to come carrying a daughter because grade 8 students are ‘young adults’.

As the girl is now a grown up, the mother said she cannot carry her to the class room on her own. She added that on one occasion she had fallen while carrying the child. Thereafter, the child had to stop going to school. “School authorities don’t give any concern about the matter faced by my child” she elaborated.

“When I and my husband met the principal she refused our request and said she can’t remove the class room from the third floor for the sake of one student” the mother said.

After several unsuccessful meetings with the principal, the parents decided to seek a remedy from Education Ministry. However, the mother told Asian Mirror that officers of Education Ministry informed them that the matter should be resolved with the principal.

“My daughter can do her studies as others, she is not mentally ill. She has the right to have education” the mother told Asian Mirror.

Asian Mirror made an attempt to contact the principal of the school. However, the school office said that she was on leave and they could not give her personal contact number.

Human Rights Commission will consider the complaint on April 21.

This incident comes in the backdrop of a growing understanding around the world that differently abled persons should be given more access to public places and services. An Extraordinary Gazette notification published by the Government of Sri Lanka on October 17, 2006, introduced Disabled Persons (Accessibility) Regulations No 1 of 2006. It said:

“The provisions of these regulations shall be applicable to all public buildings, public places and to places where common services are available, to which buildings, places and services persons with disabilities have access

Provided that all existing public buildings, public places and places where common services are available, shall within a period of three years from the coming into operation of these regulations, be made accessible to persons with disabilities in compliance with the provisions of these regulations.”

Related: Visakha Vidyalaya Principal Refutes Allegations On Denying Access To Disabled Child

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