Education Ministry’s misplaced priorities

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Ministry of Education was planning to appoint registrars to all schools with over 1,000 students at a time when there were vacancies for principals in 302 out of 353 national schools, the Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) said yesterday.

There were 984 schools with over 1,000 students and depending on the number of students in a school, the grades of the Registrars would be determined, the union said "For example schools with over 4,500 students will get Senior Registrars. The work that is to be assigned to the registrars is currently done by vice principles. So, essentially, the Ministry is creating positions in 984 schools to give jobs to UNP henchmen," CTU General Secretary, Joseph Stalin said.

One of the main issues in the education sector was that there were 302 acting principals in national schools, Stalin said. "These appointments were made for the most part by old boys/girls associations and/or regional politicians to exercise control over institutions by having persons dependent on them for survival appointed as acting school heads.

Stalin said: "In 2012, there were 96 vacancies for principles in National Schools. That number has risen to 302 now. In 2017, there was an attempt to select principals but because the process was so corrupt, the Public Services Commission (PSC) canceled the recruitments and asked the Ministry to stick to rules and regulations. Nothing has been done so far."

The government has been turning education sector into a job bank for UNPers. Such attempts have been ramped up in recent months as national elections were fast approaching. In mid May the government appointed 3,850 sports instructors, the CTU said.

"They are also appointing a large number of watchers. Last week, the Ministry of Education has sent a list of 217 ‘political victims’ to the Public Service Commission seeking permission to employ them. Last year, the government tried to promote over 1,000 UNP supporters who claimed to have been politically victimised. The government has left nine top positions vacant in the Education Ministry for an extended period and that has caused a serious crisis in the education sector and made seven appointments to top positions without following proper procedure. These actions are creating a lot of issues."

Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam was not available for comment.

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