Schools reopened successfully – Dinesh
By Thameenah Razeek & Nabiya Vaffoor
Praising principals and teachers for their vital contribution towards children returning to school yesterday (21), Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said schools across the country reopened with a significant number of teachers and students in attendance.
The Minister was speaking at a Press conference following an inspection tour of academic activities at a number of schools including the Maharagama Buddhist College. Gunawardena said the Government is trying to progressively restart academic activities at all schools and that yesterday marked the end of a long hiatus brought by the long-running COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is heartening that the process of educating hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren in this country has begun so smoothly. The Ministry of Education would like to express its gratitude to the thousands of pupils who have come to school with their parents from all across the country, from the north to the south, and from the west to the east,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Principals and Teachers Trade Union Alliance confirmed that the strike conducted by the teachers unions has been 98 per cent successful. Speaking with Ceylon Today, yesterday (21) Ceylon Teacher’s Union (CTU) General Secretary, Joseph Stalin said there have been reports that several Provincial authorities along with Police had tried to reopen schools without students and teachers.
“The Education Ministry circulated fake data claiming that 25 per cent of teachers and 16 per cent of students attended school today. It’s clear that even the parents stand with teachers when we closely observe the attendance of students today. The parents do not trust the Government and educational authorities,” he added.
Stalin also questioned the intentions of the Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara to threaten teachers and principals, as he is not the Education Minister to do so. “Weerasekara even tried to spread racist ideas by claiming that these strikes aren’t taking place in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and that these problems only exist in the southern provinces.
They even tried to use the Police to get teachers to attend schools today. Even the Northern Western Governor Raja Kollure tried to get teachers to attend the schools by coercion; by threatening to fire them or cut their salaries. But all their threats have been answered in a way that they deserve by our successful strike,” he added.
He further informed that trade union action will continue until the Government agrees to pay the demanded salary increase. All Ceylon United Teachers’ President Union Ven. Yalewela Pannasekara Thera alleged that the authorities are disrespecting and disregarding the Workers’ Ordinance and Statutes with their actions. Education Professionals’ Association Chairman, Ven. Ulapane Sumangala Thera added that the strike will continue on 25 October as well, as they are opposed to the teacher’s union decision to return to schools only on that date.