Education Minister with communication dysfunction


By Rathindra Kuruwita

Tension was simmering between school administrations and parents due to statements made by Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam over parents’ role in school security, the Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) alleged yesterday.

CTU General Secretary, Joseph Stalin said: "The Minister told the media that parents no longer needed to be called to provide security to schools. He said that the necessary security would be provided by the security forces, police and the civil defence force. Schools however keep on asking parents to come in and help with security and this has caused tensions between school administrations and parents."

Although Minister Kariyawasam had issued a media statement on the matter, he had not informed the principals that parents should no longer be used for school security procedures, Stalin said.

"There are two issues here; one is that the Minister does not use the proper channels to communicate with the school system. The other is that no one seems to take the directives of the Education Minister seriously. Both are serious problems."

The CTU requested the Ministry of Education to inform principals and teachers of the decisions it had taken on various matters regarding school security. "The Minister has issued a press release asking school administrations not to collect money from parents to install CCTV systems or to force children to bring transparent bags. But schools keep on doing this. These contradictions harm the education system."

The CTU had earlier informed the Ministry to regulate the collection of money from parents by certain school administrators on the pretext of purchasing equipment to enhance school security. If the government had permitted the installation of CCTV cameras inside schools, it should take steps to do that using money allocated to the Ministry or provincial ministries, Stalin said.

The CTU Secretary was also critical of some measures adopted by schools. "Some schools insist that only transparent bags be allowed inside. Most parents buy school bags in the first semester and when a school asks them to buy another bag in the second semester, they face difficulties."

Attempts to contact Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam failed.

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