Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, with the support of incompetent and under-qualified officials in his ministry have set in motion a pernicious process that could very well lead to wrecking the public schools system, Colombo Telegraph reliably learns.
The Minister, in his wisdom, has decided to appoint principals to schools according to his own whims and fancies violating defined processes and established procedures covering the requisite criteria. Reliable sources within the education system contend that two Additional Secretaries of the ministry who do not possess the necessary masters degrees to occupy their respective positions are hand-in-glove with the minister of education, in their quest to place their acquaintances to all important Superior Schools, despite these cronies being totally inexperienced and lacking a track record in administration, that is paramount to effectively manage these large institutions.
Accordingly, through a dubious selection process of Principals, the education ministry, quite shocking and deplorably has set in motion a plan to assign a Principal who is still 33 years of age, one Kusala Fernando, an individual who has joined the SLEAS just four years ago (in 2014), and having just over 2 years of experience as a principal, to the premier educational institution in the country – Royal College, Colombo. It is also learnt that this through this planned realignment of Principals, powers-that-be at the ministry of education are eyeing Ananda College, Colombo, Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo and many other leading schools, to place their preferred henchmen and women as respective heads, purportedly to wrest control of administrative control unto themselves of these schools.
Earlier, past pupils and parents of 12 national schools highlighted glaringly obvious flaws in the marking scheme applied to evaluate aspirant applicants as principals to state schools. They argued that ministry officials have customized the said marking scheme, obviously with the knowledge of the minister, to ensure their cronies rank higher than the more experienced senior principals from the Sri Lanka Education Administrators Service (SLEAS). After a joint letter signed by past pupil and parent representatives of these schools was submitted to the ministry with copies to the Public Service Commission (PSC), it was reported in the media that the PSC have now taken steps to annul the entire process and instructed the ministry officials to restart the procedure from scratch, with a new marking scheme which is to be reviewed and approved by the education sub-committee appointed the PSC.
Sources close to the Royal College Union told Colombo Telegraph that the school, which has a student population exceeding 8400 students and 350 teachers spread over a 37 acres and being the apex Primary and Secondary School in the country, requires as Principal a personality with experience, a proven track record, with maturity and stature, ideally a senior officer of the Sri Lanka Educational Service.
‘To consider appointing a mere ‘infant within the system’, with hardly any experience at the helm as its Principal is yet another act of ‘hara-kiri’ not only towards lowering the standards at Royal College, which by itself should be considered as a treacherous and anti-national act, but also could ruin the entire fabric of education in the country by creating an ominous precedent,’ they contend.
‘It is strange that such atrocious decisions are being taken by a minister who is a member of a cabinet that is full of Old Royalists including Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, with Sajith Premadasa, Navin Dissanayake, Harsha De Silva, Eran Wickramaratne, Kabir Hasheem, Arumugam Thondaman, Sagala Ratnayaka, Lakshman Kiriella, Gayantha Karunatilleka, Ravi Karunanayake, Rauff Hakeem, D.M. Swaminathan also holding cabinet portfolios or are state ministers.
All previous Principals of Royal College (since 1835) and most of the larger National Schools have been chosen from the top-drawer in consonance with well-defined principles and have for the most part adorned such high office with great distinction helping to lift the standards of education not only in the particular schools but in fact the entire country, simply by the examples they’ve set.
Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the Council of the Royal College Union at its meeting held on the Wednesday the 13th of March, adopted a Resolution to pursue and implement every action so necessary, including legal recourse, to prevent an unsuitable and unqualified individual from being appointed as its Principal.