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Exam official harasses Muslim girl students

A group of Muslim Girl students have complained that an Examinations Department official harassed them while they were sitting a public examination in Colombo on Sunday (19 Jan).

The students say they were berated for wearing hijabs, a head covering which also covers their ears.

The incident took place during the  Efficiency Bar – 2 Examination for Development officers which was held at St. Paul’s Girls’ School, Milagiriya, Bambalapitiya.

One of the woman students told RepublicNext on condition of anonymity that instructions regarding the examination were given before the beginning of the examination by two invigilators to all the candidates but nothing has been mentioned about Muslim girls covering their heads.

She said that the first subject was the Establishment Code and it started at 9.00 am and ended at 11.00 without any issues. The second subject of Financial Regulations and Procurement Procedures started at 12.00 pm. 

“ While the examination was on with 20 mins remaining, an unidentified individual has entered the room and went up to me and the other Muslim girls who sitting in the same row and shouted at us in a threatening manner that Muslim girls cannot cover their ears,” she said.

When she was looking at him totally shocked, she said the person had threatened them by shouting that he would teach them a lesson and allegedly took pictures of the Muslim girls on his mobile phone. 

He had also noted down the index numbers of the girls. Because of the disruption caused by this person, she said that she and other girls found it difficult to concentrate afterwards.

This unidentified individual had concealed his identity by placing his official ID card inside his shirt pocket. 

She said that once the examination was over, she had asked the invigilators where does the regulation of covering the ear is mentioned to which they did not answer.

Also she said that she checked on the notice board about it and failed to find such regulation.

However the candidates have gone to him and asked his name and designation, he has refused to disclose these details and threatened the candidates that he has the circular in favour of his actions.

The person was identified as L. Thilakasiri who was the Commissioner of Institutional Exams in the Examination Department.

A complaint in this regard was lodged by the victims of the harassment to Bambalapitiya Police Station same evening, which the police denied when RepublicNext questioned about the incident from the Police Media Division as well as the Bambalapitiya Police.

As we could not get through to the Commissioner-General or the relevant Commissioner mentioned in the incident, the Media Coordinating Secretary to the Ministry of Education Niranjala Gamage told RepublicNext that the said candidates have not adhered to the regulation which is mentioned in the gazette notification regarding the rules and regulations of government examinations that the candidates should come to examination hall without covering their ears.

She also said that the commissioner has all the powers on him to make sure the candidates follow such regulations.

She also said that the Ministry nor the Examination Department intends to give a statement on the incident as it is clear that the candidates have not adhered to the rules and regulations.

However, the victim who spoke to RepublicNext said that if there are such regulations the invigilators should have mentioned about it before the exams.

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