Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) led by Joseph Stalin early this week alleged that the Northern Education System is highly politicized and there is large-scale misuse of power.
The Union has now taken up the issue with Northern Governor Reginold Cooray who had promised to call up Provincial Education Ministry officials on 26 June for an explanation regarding the allegations.
Ministerial level representatives as well as CTU will be present at this meeting. In a statement released early this week, CTU’s General Secretary Stalin pointed out that education in the North has been highly politicized with politicians and those holding responsible positions in the Education sector ruining the system.
“Politicians and education directors are acting against rules and regulations and thereby ruining the administrative system of the education zones and schools in the Northern Province,” he said.
Stalin added that these persons have functioned beyond their administrative powers thereby breaking the rules of those institutions. “It is pathetic that responsible persons have ignored their responsibilities just to implement their political agendas. This had thoroughly affected the Northern Education System,” he added.
Private Secretaries of politicians are involved in transferring education officers. Northern politicians are not ready to address this issue. Instead they ignore it even after it is brought to their notice, he added.
“The Northern Education Ministry has appointed some retired education officers as Directors in some zones. Since the hierarchy engages in malpractices, these Zonal Directors are not ready to follow the rules. They are functioning according to their own whims and fancies,” Stalin said.
Stalin added that there are adequate numbers of Education Administrative Officers in the Northern Province. Thus, contract based appointments should be brought to an end. “We request responsible authorities to take the necessary steps to put an end to political exploitation of the education system in the North,” he said.
Vice President of CTU, who is handling grassroots situations in Jaffna, Arokianather Theeban said, “Many transfers in the Northern Province are taking place without the authorization of the Provincial Transfer Board. As it was illegal, it was brought to the notice of the Northern Chief Minister, but no action was taken in this regard.” “A person who served at the same school for seven years will be given transfer. Recently a teacher in Jaffna was given transfer according to usual transfer procedures.
But she was influential at ministerial levels, therefore she obtained a transfer to the same school. Since our Union opposed this transfer, the previous Secretary to the Provincial Ministry of Education Raveendran held it for some time,” he added According to norm, the Jaffna Zonal Education Director should provide a confirmation letter if a teacher is given a transfer. However in this context, the said teacher was provided a transfer letter from the Personal Secretary of the Education Minister and she assumed duties at the same school. The Personal Secretary of the Education Minister is not a Department Head and he has no power to proceed with a transfer,” he said.
“At the same time, the principal of this school also allowed the teacher to assume duty. The principal was flexible to this transfer because he is a relative of the Education Minister. This is one of the biggest malpractices we came across in the Northern Education System recently,” he said.
Meanwhile, another Vice President of CTU who is in-charge of affairs in Vavuniya, Paskaramoorthy Nesaraja said there is a case proceeding at the Vavuniya Human Rights Commission regarding misuse of power within the Vavuniya education zone.
Misuse of power
“A principal serving in one of the schools in Vavuniya was given compulsory retirement as punishment for financial fraud in April 2016. However in 2017, the Provincial Public Service Commission eased his punishment and recommended a posting except within Vavuniya South education zone. He was also involved in abuse of schoolchildren as he provided leaving certificates with negative remarks written in red. As we received a complaint against him, we investigated the incident and lodged a complaint at the Northern Education Ministry. Thus, action was taken against him by imposing compulsory retirement.
“However after the letter issued by the Provincial Public Service Commission, he obtained a posting in Murunkan, Mannar as Vice Principal in one of the schools. Later in 2018, he was given the post of Principal to a school in Omanthai. Therefore, these transfers were imposed violating the disciplinary orders against this principal,” he said. CTU lodged a complaint at the Human Rights Commission in Vavuniya in this regard and the case is ongoing.
Northern Minister of Education Dr. Kandiah Sarveswaran and Ministry Secretary S. Sathiyaseelan were not available for comment on the matter. Currently there are 17 National Schools in the Northern Province. There are five national schools in the Vavuniya Education Zone, two in Mullaitivu, one in Kilinochchi, two in Mannar and seven in Jaffna.
Muslim Maha Vidyalayam, Vavuniya Tamil Central Maha Vidyalayam, Rambaikulam Girls’ Maha Vidyalayam, Madukantha Maha Vidyalaya and Gamini Maha Vidyalaya are the five national schools in the Vavuniya Education Zone. Nithiyanantha College and Mallavi Maha Vidyalayam are the national schools in the Mullaitivu Education Zone. Kilinochchi Central College is the only national school in that education zone.
The national schools in Mannar are Sithivinayagar Maha Vithiyalayam and St. Xavier’s College. Jaffna Hindu College, Vembadi Girls’ High School, Jaffna Central College, Manipay Hindu College, Nelliady Central College, Chavakachcheri Hindu College and Holy Family Convent are the national schools in the Jaffna Zone.