Chalk for cheese at Ratgama school
The construction of Devapathiraja Central College, Ratgama - one of the biggest tsunami affected schools - is proceeding at a very slow pace, with no proper supervision and building materials said to be of poor quality, villagers and past pupils complain.
The construction of the school is funded by Japan at an estimated cost of Rs. 289 million with December 1, 2007 fixed as the day the completed school should be handed over.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has assisted in the design of the school. JICA has handed over the construction to a private company after signing a consultancy contract with the State Engineering Corporation which has to report to JICA.
According to the plan 53 classrooms, laboratories, a library, a music room, an art room, a room for dancing classes, a computer room, office rooms, staff rooms, quarters for teachers and principal, sanitary facilities, a pavilion, a hall have to be constructed.
The construction of the school is on a 10 ½ acre block of land from Monrovia Estate in Ratgama. Villagers complain the construction was being carried out in an irresponsible and careless manner with low quality building materials used.
Even some labourers on the site have reportedly complained of certain bad practices.
At present the land has been cleared, some foundations laid and a big wall, already showing signs of cracking, built.
About 70% of the school was destroyed in the 2004 tsunami and the need was for an alternative land far from the sea to build a new school which could accommodate around 2000 students. The need was fulfilled when Sir Earnest de Silva’s relatives donated the land which is a kilometre from the sea.
Devapathiraja Vidyalaya was established in the 1920s on land donated by Sir Earnest de Silva, who was the first chairman of the Bank of Ceylon and a great philanthropist.
Today villagers and past pupils fear that if JICA were to discontinue funding for the project hundreds of school children would be affected.