Teachers and Principals launch strike; academic activities in schools islandwide hampered

Teachers and Principals launch strike; academic activities in schools islandwide hampered

Written by Staff Writer

26 Feb, 2020 | 10:19 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st):- The Teachers and Principals trade union today (February 26) launched trade union action by applying for sick leave, citing several demands including salary anomalies. Due to this, academic activities in several schools were hampered.

Their demands are :

* Make the teaching profession a closed and inclusive service

* Issue the circular relating to an interim salary

* Allocation of 6% of GDP for education

* End collecting money from parents for the maintenance of schools

*Provide a full-pension to all teachers and principals who joined the service after the 01st of January 2016.

Student turnout across the Western Province dropped to 25% today and the figure was even lower across other provinces as a result of the trade union action. Student turnout in other provinces was at 20 – 30%.

At the same time, 18 Teacher’s and Principal’s Associations marched from the Buddhadasa Grounds to Isurupaya this morning (February 26) creating massive traffic congestion in Battaramulla. The Trade Union also pointed out, there is a high volume of teacher vacancies in the country. There are around 4000 such vacancies in the North-Western Province alone. The provincial educational director mentioned that the attendance of students from the Western province was 25%. 20% to 30% of students from other provinces attended school. While some students remained at home and others were kept in classrooms, teachers and principals took to the streets.

General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin speaking at the protest march said;

“97% of the schools have been closed. More than 240,000 teachers are on sick leave. What did we say after heading towards the Presidential Secretariat on February 14? We sought to resolve this problem and to meet the relevant officials before the 20th. However, no discussions have taken place so far. We have shown our strength today.”

Member of the Ceylon Teachers Services Union, Mahinda Jayasinghe says;

“If a cabinet paper has been put forward in this regard, a circular must be issued to resolve our salary anomalies. Our struggle will end only after an indefinite strike. Do not wait until that happens and shed crocodile tears citing the education of the students.”

Teachers Unions claim that schools in several provinces are facing a shortage of teachers. It is said that the North-Western Province faces a shortage of 4000 teachers, while 1521 schools in the Central Province are facing a shortage of 4561 teachers.

Addressing this shortage, Mahinda Jayasinghe said;

“The shortage of teachers exists in the North Central, Northern, Eastern, and Uva Provinces as well as the Badulla district. There is a shortage of teachers for certain subjects in the Western Province as well. There is a void of 60,000 teachers.”

What is the solution that could be provided to resolve this issue?

Meanwhile the Convener of the United Unemployed Graduates Association, Venerable Thenne Gnanananda Thero said;

“There is a shortage of teachers countrywide. However, the government has failed to implement a definite plan to resolve this issue. There are 20,000 unemployed graduates who have passed the relevant state exams for teachers. As the United Unemployed Graduates Association, we have been voicing our demands on behalf of these unemployed graduates for several years, seeking to grant them appointments. We believe that state officials should realize the seriousness of this issue and intervene to resolve it.”

Teachers and Principals who engaged in the strike today rejected an opportunity to meet with the Additional Secretary and other officials of the Ministry of Education. The protest ended today after a decision was made to launch a work to rule campaign from tomorrow (February 27).  The unions had also decided to launch a five-day countrywide strike beginning from the 16th of March.

While Teachers and Principals are engaging in such a trade union action, the government commenced interviews today to provide 100,000 job opportunities. This is according to the “Saubhagye Dakma” Policy Statement. These interviews are held at district secretariats island-wide. Long ques were to be seen at district secretariats due to candidates present expecting job opportunities. The government said that these candidates will undergo a training program of six months and later be recruited for government positions in their respective areas of residence.

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