In Benghazi today or Jaffna then, the teachers kept on teaching despite the shelling!

The BBC reported this today on a school reopening in Beghazi

“I hope my country can find a way forward. By opening the school, we’re trying to establish some kind of normality here. Despite this war, despite all the destruction, we are still keeping on. We need to live. We need a future for our country. We need peace and safety. Enough of war, enough. For the future of our children, enough.”
Fauzia Mukhtar Abeid, head teacher of a school on the border of Libya

This reminded me of what the Jaffna teacher said …

“During wartime the children even studied in bunkers… education officers took trouble to cross the lagoon in fishing boats and go to Colombo and get the examination papers from the Commissioner of Examinations. They did well in the Grade 5 examination and at the O Levels. So it’s a credit to the support and encouragement of the parents of these children who’ve never seen nothing but education for the future of their children”
Mr Somanathan, an English teacher and Director of a school in Jaffna

DSC08203Their names will not be known, or remembered, this is certain. Those who will be remembered are the names of those who held weapons on both sides and were part of the carnage of war. But teachers have always been at the heart of civil life where it matters most, where society held itself together at the seam. I first went to Jaffna in 2011 and recorded my very first post-war oral history interview with Mr Somanathan (a pseudonym he chose), a Jaffna English teacher.

For the three part oral history using the voice of the teacher against images I took of Jaffna on that journey please see one of my first posts which few read at the time The teacher kept on teaching


Here is part 3 of the series on students who studied and sat for exams despite shelling and displacement.

iSrilankan Oral History: The Resilience Series : Part III Never Give Up and Never Give In from iSrilankan on Vimeo.

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