Teachers withdraw from exam duties

  • Pull out of 26 July O/L practical exams
  • Not applying for Nov. A/L duties
  • 2K to take part in Colombo protest today  

By Buddhika Samaraweera

Teachers and principals who are presently boycotting online educational activities and work at regional learning centres have decided to escalate their trade unions actions by declaring themselves unavailable for exam duties.

This announcement comes after the failure of the talks held recently between the Governmental educational authorities and the teachers and principals trade unions over unresolved issues in the education sector.

Accordingly, they have withdrawn from duties related to the conduct of the practical examinations of the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level (O/L) examination and will refrain from applying for duties pertaining to the forthcoming GCE Advanced Level (A/L) examination.

According to the teachers trade unions, nearly 2,000 members of 47 teachers and principals unions are to participate in the protest to be held in Colombo today (22) against the Government’s continued failure to address issues in the education sector, including the matter of the teachers-principals salary anomaly.

Following the failure of the discussion held on Tuesday (20) between the teachers and principals trade unions and the Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, trade unions, which have withdrawn from various teaching activities, warned that they would stage a protest in Colombo today. The discussion held on Tuesday, which also focused on the issue of the teacher-principal salary anomaly, ended without a definite agreement between the Education Ministry and other Governmental authorities, and the unions.

Speaking to The Morning, the Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) President Priyantha Fernando said that in addition to the trade union action to withdraw from online teaching activities, which continued for the 10th day yesterday (21), and the protest to be held today, certain other trade union actions are also expected to be launched in the future. According to him, the teachers and principals have decided to withdraw from their duties related to the practical examinations of the GCE O/L examination which is scheduled to commence from 26 July onwards, and also decided not to apply for the duties pertaining to the conduct of the GCE A/L examination which is scheduled to be held in November 2021.

“Prof. Peiris has promised to present a Cabinet paper on the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue on 26 July, but we cannot believe that it would solve this issue. Under many Governments, several Cabinet papers have been presented to solve this issue, but none of those have been implemented,” he noted. For these reasons, Fernando added, the trade union struggle would continue. Our aim is not to sabotage the education of students, but the Government will focus on something only when we launch a trade union struggle, he elaborated.

Meanwhile, speaking at a media briefing held yesterday, Ven. Galwala Pannasekara Thera of the All Ceylon United Teachers Union (ACUTU) said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should intervene to resolve the issues of teachers. He also said that they hope to protest near the Colombo Fort Railway Station today and to then proceed to the Presidential Secretariat against the Government’s failure to provide solutions to the issues of teachers so far.

The Ceylon Teachers Service Union (CTSU) is also participating in the protest today and its Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe told The Morning that trade union action would continue until the reasonable demands made by the teachers are resolved under a proper system, in a manner that is acceptable to them.

Teachers and principals trade unions had earlier decided to indefinitely withdraw from all online teaching activities from 12 July onwards until further notice, in protest over the arrest of a group of trade unionists and student activists, including CTU General Secretary Joseph Stalin. In addition to online teaching activities, teachers and principals had withdrawn from duties related to sending applications for examinations, including the GCE A/L examination, online. They had also withdrawn from teaching activities at regional learning centres which were recently established by the Education Ministry 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.