Schools to Fully Open by November
By Methmalie Dissanayake and Nabhiya Vaffoor
With the Government aiming at resuming all academic activities in schools by November, leaders of several key teacher-principal trade unions are set to meet at Temple Trees on Monday (11) for a “crucial and final” discussion with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and other relevant ministers and officials.
State Minister of Education Reforms and Open Universities Susil Premajayantha said in Parliament on Friday (8) schools are scheduled to reopen for all grades by November this year. In response to a question raised by SJB MP Hesha Withanage during the Oral Question Round, Premajayantha said schools across the country will be reopened in several stages from the coming 21 October.
Speaking further, Premajayantha said the postponed school examinations will take place in the first quarter of 2022, after providing opportunity and time for the students to cover the syllabuses and properly prepare for the examinations.
He noted that the standard of the question papers will never be changed for any reason. However, the Ceylon Teachers› Union (CTU) informs Education Ministry Secretary and all the Provincial Education Secretaries that they will boycott any type of invitations to report to work or attend school for any purpose. This includes discussions regarding the commencement of schools.
CTU Secretary Joseph Stalin urged the Government to bring about solutions to the teachers’ and principals’ salary anomalies issue before the reopening schools on 21 October. “Until the Government finds a solution to the teachers’ and principals’ salary anomalies issue our trade union action would continue. If the Government is unable to find a solution to their issues, a decision has to be made on opening the schools,” Stalin said. He further claimed that it has been 89 days since the teachers’ and principals’ struggle.
“Principals of the schools with less than 200 students have been summoned, yesterday (8) for a discussion regarding the commencement of schools. We know that the Government is planning to reopen the schools on 21 October,” he added. Speaking with Ceylon Today, Friday (8) Stalin also requested the Government for an immediate discussion with the trade unions and to provide a reasonable solution before the deadline, if not, the trade unions will take stern decision regarding the reopening of schools on the scheduled date.
Meanwhile, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) in a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has urged to resolve the teacher-principal salary issue without further delay as it has already affected the education of children immensely. They have also pointed out that teachers and principals taking to streets once again holding protest campaigns would lead to another COVID-19 wave and thus, to take measures to resolve matters before they reach out of control.