Staff suspected in macabre school poisoning

Parents at a primary school in Irrawaddy Division’s Myanaung Township are refusing to send their children back to the school after authorities failed to prosecute anyone for poisoning drinking water supplies last year.

In 2013, there were three separate cases of the school’s water supply being poisoned. The school’s head teacher filed a report with authorities but after an inspection, no tangible action was taken.

Parents were left frustrated and scared for their children’s safety.

“We are afraid to send our children back to school because the poisoning took place not just once but three times,” said a parent, San Aye.

“We reported the case to a range of authorities from the village to regional level. But they only came for an inspection and did not take any further action,” she said.

Parents suspected that a feud between members of staff led to one of them contaminating the water. However, this claim was never proven.

Of 48 students studying at Taungpatlae village primary school, 19 will not be returning this year.

Parents said they would rather their children miss a school year than risk being poisoned again.

“The authorities did nothing to solve the case. They don’t care about the students who are missing school this year,” said Myo Win, another parent.

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Though the truth about who the culprit was never came to light, the finger is still being pointed at four of the school’s staff members.

School committee member Soe Win said that as the police failed to investigate properly, the school board should take matters into their own hands.

“We would like the school’s four staff members to be transferred. As the authorities are not willing to solve the case, this would be more convenient,” he said.

Myanaung Township’s deputy education minister, Ohn Tien, was one of the officials who inspected the school. He said he recommended that the township’s education administrator reprimand staff members at the school. However, he reminded school board members that responsibility to take action ultimately lies with the police.

There were no serious injuries resulting from the contaminated drinking water but five children suffered from stomach pains and several others had headaches.

The school term resumes on 1 June.

 

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