Teachers warn Sapiri Pasal project will see closure of 1,000 primary schools

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Teachers warned yesterday that the newly implemented ‘Sapiri Pasal’ project of the Education Ministry would lead to the closure of 1,000 primary schools and create a new demand for 1,000 popular schools.

General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers Service Union (CTSU) Mahinda Jayasinghe told a media briefing that the government would develop 1,000 selected schools under the project and the primary section of those schools would be closed.

"The government planned to attach the primary section of those schools to another school nearby," he said adding it would be a major problem.

According to the project, which is scheduled to come to an end within four years, 20 schools have been named for development within this year, Jayasinghe said.

The trade unionist said that none of the popular schools in the country were included in the project as there was severe opposition from powerful old boys’ associations, parents and students.

He said that applications received to admit students to the grade 01 of the first 20 schools, were forwarded to the nearest schools.

For example, applications received by Ratnapura Sumana Balika Vidyalaya were forwarded to Muthuwa Kanishta Vidyalaya, application received by Panadura St. John’s College were forwarded to Hirana Kanishata Vidyalaya and applications received by Horana Palonnoruwa Vidyalaya were forwarded to Thalagala Kanishta Vidyalaya, he said.

"According to our information, Kebithigollewa Central College and Sangabodhi Vidyalaya in Kantale have been included in the project, but there are no schools nearby to attach their primary schools," Jayasinghe said adding that now the ministry has to remove those schools from the project.

According to him, the ministry published a full page newspaper advertisement for the Sapiri Pasal ceremony of Kebithigollewa Central College, but it was only a waste of public money.

Jayasinghe said that government was working to reduce education expenditure according to the guidelines of the international monetary organization. Before this project, the same government implemented the ‘Navodya’ and ‘Isuru’ school projects and spent Rs. 70 million. But now the government has introduced this new project claiming that the previous two projects were unsuccessful, he said.

He said the cost of the new project was Rs. 6,000 million, but it was difficult to spend such an amount with loweer allocations for education in the budget.

The government was cutting down on funds for education year by year. According to the statistics, the government allocated 2.82%, 2.84%, 2.59% from the total expenditure of the budget in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively.

"To complete the ‘Sapiri Pasal’ project within four years, the government has to develop at least 50 schools next year under the project," Jayasinghe said asking how it could be done when funds for education were being slashed.

CTSU Organising Secretary Dhammika Alahapperuma, Assistant Secretary A. P. Milton and Treasurer Priyantha Liyanagamage were also present at the media briefing.


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