News

5,800 teachers, principals pull out of O/L practicals

  • Meeting with President before weekend
  • Unions to meet G.L. today

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

In addition to trade union action taken to withdraw from all online teaching activities, which continued for the 15th day yesterday (26), nearly 5,800 teachers and principals have also decided to withdraw from practical examination duties of the GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination that commenced yesterday.

This latest trade union action is in protest against what the teachers’ and principals’ trade unions claim to be the Government’s continued delay in providing a solution to the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue.

They have withdrawn from the practical examination duties yesterday in a context where they have been given an opportunity to meet with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa before 30 July to discuss their issues including that of the salary anomaly, following a discussion between the teachers trade unions and officials of the Presidential Secretariat on 22 July.

In addition, Minister of Education Prof. G.L. Peiris, according to the teachers’ trade unions, was to submit a proposal to the Cabinet of Ministers yesterday regarding the teachers’ issues. Further, in order to discuss said proposal, a meeting is to be held between Prof. Peiris and the teachers’ trade unions today (27).

Teachers’ and principals’ trade unions had decided to withdraw from all online teaching activities from 12 July until further notice, in protest over the arrest of a group of trade unionists and student activists, including Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) General Secretary Joseph Stalin, and the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue. In addition to the online teaching activities, the teachers and principals had withdrawn from duties related to sending applications for examinations, including the GCE Advanced Level (A/L) examination, online.

They had also withdrawn from teaching activities at regional learning centres recently established by the Ministry of Education with the aim of facilitating students who find it difficult to pursue their education online. There are about 2,160 regional learning centres that employ nearly 30,000 teachers and principals, and the latter two groups had withdrawn from those duties too.

When contacted by The Morning yesterday, CTU President Priyantha Fernando said that about 5,800 teachers who had been assigned for practical examination duties islandwide had withdrawn from their duties in addition to the previously initiated trade union actions.

The Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) has also decided to withdraw from all practical examination duties. Its General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe told The Morning that if the Government fails to address their concerns, the trade unions are ready to launch more trade union actions in the future. He further said that he strongly denies the allegations made against the trade union leaders by several parties, including some politicians representing the Government, to the effect that the education sector trade unionists were funded by non-governmental organisations and that they were not proper teachers.

Several attempts to contact Prof. Peiris and Education Ministry Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera to inquire as to how the Ministry would cope with these trade union actions initiated by teachers and principals trade unions were not successful.