A newly issued circular by the Ministry of Education for year one admissions for year 2017, prohibits members of the Past Pupils Associations of government schools from sitting as panelists’ for the interviews and intake of new students.
With barely weeks away from scheduled interviews being held, the Education Ministry published a circular bearing number 17/2016 and dated 16.05.2016, pertaining to the year 01 admission process of state schools.
This move prevents the representation of members of Past Pupils Associations especially where children are interviewed for categories such as is Chief Occupant’s Category, Brother’s Category, Transfer Category, Education Category and International Category interviews.
The issuance of this circular however will still continue to permit Past Pupils Association members to sit in as interview panelists for the category where the “Past Pupils’ children” are only being interviewed.
Mahinda Fernando an old boy of a government boy’s school from Colombo speaking to Colombo Telegraph said “75% of the entire year 01 intake to a state school materializes through these five categories that we are not permitted now to sit in as panelists. Over 50% of interviews alone is through the ‘Chief Occupants’ category and it is common knowledge that most of the corruption happens there. Now by having us out it paves the way for Education Ministry officials and also the Principals of government schools to recruit whom they wish”.
Lately, Prime Minister Ranil Wikremesinghe has been vocal in promoting the empowerment and engagement of Past Pupils’ Associations especially of government schools for their support in managing and administering school affairs. Premier Wickremesinghe also acknowledged this all important stakeholder group as one that should be given greater responsibility and authority in running the affairs of their respective schools where it lessens the burden on the state.
The Premier’s sentiments resonates widespread acknowledgement of the incomparable contributions the past pupils’ communities make towards the development of respective schools and also of the deep love for their old schools.
Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has also echoed similar sentiments on many instances recently.
However the bureaucratic assemblage at the Ministry of Education has now ensured that the past pupils are further distanced from their schools through the issuance of this circular.
Fernando went on to further state “ The authorities have not provided any reasons nor any justification for this change. After all, this has been a practice that has had no ill effects over the past decades. Then why do they want it changed now? What is the disadvantage of having us present at the interviews? In the absence of any justification, it is natural for one to conclude that there may be hidden motives and agendas for this change to suddenly take place. In this particular instance a bizarre change of a single clause in the circular, changes a practice that has been in existence for over the past twenty five years. Three key additional secretaries of the of the Ministry of Education, Hemantha Premathilake (former Nalanda College Principal), Senani Hewage (former D S Senananayake Principal) and Illangasinghe (former Isipathana Principal) are members of Minister Kariyawasam’s advisory panel. The incumbent Principal of Ananda College, Kithsiri Liyanagama and present Royal College Principal, B. A. Abeyaratna, were also two vociferous advocates for the exclusion of old boys from the interview panels. Ironically Liyanagama was recently in the news, accused of admission related financial misdemeanors and Abeyaratna was interdicted on charges of forging documents in school admissions. He was subsequently acquitted due to technicalities in the legal process ”.
Intriguingly all five names highlighted above are batch mates of the same intake of the Sri Lanka Educational Administrative Service (SLEAS) from the 80’s. They were members of the very first batch at SLEAS, an initiative which was by Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe who was the Minister of Education at that time. ( Janaka Ranaweera © Colombo Telegraph )