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No money for settling bills
Schools will be without electricity countrywide

The JVP yesterday said electricity would be disconnected in most schools islandwide as Provincial Councils and the government had not allocated funds for settling bills.

JVP Western Provincial Councilor, Dumunda Nagamuwa told a press conference held at the JVP headquarters in Battaramulla up to now electricity supply to around 50 schools in the Hambantota district where President Mahinda Rajapaksa came from had been disconnected. Of them three schools were national schools including the Weeraketiya Central College named after late D. A. Rajapaksa, the father of President Rajapaksa. Electricity had been disconnected in some schools in the Ratnapura District too, he said.

According to the School Development Board Act, salaries of teachers and electricity bills were to be paid by the government. School heads had been compelled to pass the burden of settling electricity bills on to students, Nagamuwa said.

JVP Colombo District MP Sunil Hadunneththi said that the government had cut down on funds for free education while pretending to protect it. In 2008, the government had allocated Rs. 11980 billion for text books and free uniforms, but that amount had been reduced to Rs. 880 millions for the current year, he said.

Handunnetti said some children in Colombo had to pay as much as Rs.8,000 upon entering the GCE (A/L) classes in their own schools.

"The amount comprises Rs. 1,200 as defence fund, Rs. 1,200 for tutorials and assignments, Rs. 400 as library charges, Rs. 1,000 for electricity, Rs. 1,000 as subject related charges, Rs. 1,000 for laboratory use and Rs. 60 for the school development fund,"Handunnetti said.

Hadunneththi said when his party raised the issue in Parliament, Education Minister Susil Premajayantha had promised to order that money so collected be returned immediately but he had not yet issued a circular to that effect.

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