30 September, 2020

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Why Former Royal Principal Is Not Interdicted?

By Ranga Kalansooriya

Dr Ranga Kalansooriya

Dr Ranga Kalansooriya

“Even an average public servant receives his or her normal transfer order in every five years. How come a principal of a school remains for consecutive 13 years in the same work place?”

This is an obvious question that would come to one’s mind when analyzing the recent interesting story about three high profile principals of leading schools in the country who came into the lime light last week. This above specific question refers to the former Principal of the most prestigious Royal College in particular, among many other issues.

Many weekend newspapers carried elaborative stories about the mafia style operation by these members of the “once-most-sacred profession.” Why I said “once-most-sacred profession” was probably due to the fact that the past glory of the occupation has already been extensively tarnished by many of its corrupt practitioners. Financial bribes are popularly known and we heard about several cases on sexual bribes, too. School admission is the most famous mafia operation where the principal would demand thumping perks, the parents would cheat through doctored documents and the poor child would lie as he or she was taught when facing interviews. This is how the child would start the marching towards the future. What a shame…!

If the education system is getting to these pathetic standards, where are we heading towards as a society? How can we teach morality and ethics to our children if their most sacred teachers and principals are so corrupt?

“Recently some principals started complaining that the students are no more worshiping them. Of course, the student knows the corrupt standards of these principals and teachers. The child knows how he/she got into the school, thus for the student, the principal is no more a sacred character, but a mafia businessman,” said a teacher of a Colombo school who did not want to be named.

The efforts of the government in taking stern action against these long pending cases are commendable. But according to Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) Secretary General Joseph Starlin, all these corrupt principals should have been interdicted before initiating inquiries. “We cannot understand why people like Mr Gunasekera were transferred to higher positions at the Education Ministry pending tough inquiries. He can certainly influence the inquiries when he is such high positions,” he questioned. Certainly a valid argument. If the charges are serious enough, how come he continues in the services without facing interdiction or compulsory leave?

According to the CTU, the complains started pilling up against the former Royal College principal as far back as 2010, followed by a series of complaints by a group of teachers of the very same school. The Public Service Commission commenced an in-depth inquiry, but the ultimate result was the sudden transfer of three teachers who initiated those complaints against their principal out of Royal College. The accused remained in the same position with more power, but the complainants were punished, said a staff member of the college. So no more complaints against the principal, we decided to keep our mouths shut, the teacher said. The PSC inquiry, too, disappeared.

Then in 2013, the bribery commission commenced another inquiry against Mr Gunasekera. With this development coming into the scene, we saw the members of the former ruling family more frequenting at college events, said another teacher. No matter the inquiry, he was getting so close to the Royal family. In fact there were more such controversial programs like the “Kenda (Poridge) Project” and the Nutrition Department of the Education Ministry had no clue about it, said Joseph Starlin. However, the bribery inquiry, too, disappeared – likewise the commission itself during the previous regime.

Our continuous struggle against these corrupt principals was never stopped, said Starlin. In several instances, the auditors would conduct inquiries against those principals, but within a few days, the children of those inquiring officers would find their ways into the College. Thus clean reports would appear, he alleged.

Barely within two weeks of the Yahapalana government came into office on January 08, last year, the Education Ministry named 10 errant and corrupt principals in an official communiqué, but interestingly those three top class principals who were exposed last week were not among that list. More interestingly, according to ministry sources, it was one of these three principals who attempted to broker a negotiation using his immense political power between the ministry and the accused principals. However, the ministry was not flexible and the investigations are still underway, one official said. But why it took so long to take action when it was a matter of days for those top grade school bosses?

In fact, as our sister paper Sunday Times correctly highlighted, part of the problem is the Past Pupils Associations (PPAs) who deals with the corrupt principals. In ideal situations these PPAs should be the watchdogs of the system but it has become entirely opposite predominantly for their own personal benefits. Strange enough, in some instances these PPAs have appeared to defend these accused principals at any cost – even by conducting press conferences.

If the conduct of the head of the school is as such, no needs to explain those of others like teachers. We are not discussing about Municipal laborers (perhaps they could be much better), but one of the most sacred and respected profession in the country – which is responsible in shaping and molding the future of our country.

To my mind, these tragic developments, mainly in the sectors like education were the by-products of failures in good governance for over 10 years. Corruption, nepotism, abuse of power, no rule of law were the key features of governance for over a decade. Thus, those features penetrated into the schools as well and corrupt individuals ran those once-sacred systems as they wished by totally ignoring morals and ethics of the profession. This is not to say that principals and teachers were not corrupt before the Rajapaksa regime – but probably not to this extent. The former regime provided a safe cover, so being closer to Royal Family was the modus operandi of defense for those corrupt school heads.

Yahapalanaya is not solely about political good governance. If education system is not cleaned up and saved from those errant practitioners, we cannot imagine of a clean society. Thus, it is equally important that the bribery commission turn its lights on schools and take tough action against those errant heads of schools. Food for thoughts to the Tough Lady at the bribery commission.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    The Principal of a school and an exalted one at that, is neither average nor ordinary. A Head Master in UK said several decades ago that “Inside the school the HM ie Principal is King”. Once within the premises of a University in North India in colonial times, the VC was summoned by the Governor. The VC said politely that “in the University he would meet the Governor only in his office”. The latter complimented the VC for his stance. This is governance.

    A government worth its salt should make bold to declare that Teaching Service is a category apart and decide to insulate it from transfers. The Principal, teachers and students should grow up as a single community. Diminishing anyone diminishes the whole. One found wanting should be moved out through social ostracism.

    From admission of students to the management of the institution ‘nit wittish’ MPs, lesser minions and dead wood bureaucrats should wield no authority whatsoever.

    • 2
      0

      If Good Governenace correctly applied, 70~80% of principles and head teachers should be in jail. Unfortunately, things get worse as we go away from Colombo and other big cities. What would happen to most of hospital attendants, some nurses and doctors? I personally gave ugly bribe, some 30 years back, to a surgeon to get my mothers operation ahead of of others who were poorer and less connected than me.. I should be in jail in real Yaha Palanaya too….

    • 1
      2

      For God’s sake, Ranga – get your English checked out. You have broken every guideline in grammar, repetition and journalistic flow. Your heading is alone a grammatical nightmare. Work on it.

    • 0
      0

      Let’s be honest there almost every Principal in a national school makes money during Grade 1 admission.

      The easiest way to make money is actually when admitting kids from Grade 2-9 since no one is monitoring.

      The advice is if you cannot get admitted at Grade 1 you can get it done at Grade 2 or 3.

      The whole admission system is corrupt.

  • 4
    5

    Know Kirra, Keselwatta Kid and Batalanada Ranil,,

    There is not much Chop in any of them politically speaking of course.

    Wonder who the other two are?

    Why don’t the OBA design a Blue & Gold Sataka for the ones in our Dalit garb..

  • 3
    0

    “Yahapalanaya is not solely about political good governance. If education system is not cleaned up and saved from those errant practitioners, we cannot imagine of a clean society.”

    Dr Ranga Kalansooriya

    How can the above be achieved, when the Politicians and ‘High Ups’ who run the Education System have been Practising Corruption for the last 30 Years?

  • 8
    0

    Before initiating inquiries they should have been interdicted. That is the normal procedure according to the Establishment Code. Some top PPA members are also involved in this lucrative business. Some rogues have managed to get their relations transferred into the college staff. Simply to get inside information and help them in their crooked activities. Particularly the PPA of Royal college seems to be involved . No teacher should be allowed to stay in the same school for more than 5 years.

  • 7
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    Time for a thorough cleanup of the entire system, which we hoped for with the promises of the Yahapalanaya gang, but alas, it doesn’t appear to be likely!

    Looks like the specter of corruption has infiltrated ALL aspects of our administrators and it doesn’t seem like this will end anytime in the near future.

    Shame on the liars who took us for the ride of our lives – may they rot in Hell!

    • 4
      0

      Kuveni

      Hell is a clean place: there, nothing rots; garbage is incinerated; this will include mara, gora, bara, nara, et al.

      • 2
        0

        Hahahaha.

        Gotcha! So then, let them burn in Hell!!

  • 0
    0

    At Royal not only the principal who should have been interdicted, there are many agents of him who should have been interdict ed as well. I am an old royalist but I could not get my son admitted since he missed admission at grade 0ne. But I was aghast to note when I observed two systems by which the students were admitted later.
    One is there is a whole lot of mafia old boys associations who’s office bearers get various find raising and works done by the membership but when it comes to admission office bearers children are in the forefront.
    Secondly there are some teachers who monitor vacancies due to migration etc and organise to sell these places to children of rich mudalalis so long as they pay some times even above 2m. Once I was introduced to one such person and he started extracting money from me and the initial indication was to pay about 500k. Later he raised the amount to 1m though I was an old boy. When I was reluctant he showed me instances how he got his vehicle from a parent and his wife also a staff told me if you want admission you have to hang on like a leach. In desperation I gave up but by then I have spent over one lakh in 2009.

  • 0
    0

    There is total bias and complete corruption in the nation’s education sector
    and if one is not connected or less fortunate then getting admission to any leading school in Colombo is difficult to very difficult. If one is poor then it is good bye to any schools.
    This is sad and a shame to a country where corruption is in control and the level of corruption here is high. The higher and rich one is the level of corruption too is at the same level.
    If MR govt was bad the current govt is even bad and the trend seems to continue without any break since taking over on Jan 9 2015.
    Anyway good for the people of this country for being so foolish and continue.

  • 1
    2

    How bloody convenient to make all those adverse claims under a “pseudonym”.Those amongst you who are clean throw the first stone AFTER identifying yourself otherwise hold your peace forever. I prefer to wait till the interrogations and inquiries are over to make any comments as the law says ‘a man is innocent until proven guilty”. There are many, and I repeat many,who have axes to grind because they could not have what they wanted and would fabricate and colour any story to throw an innocent man into hell. Lets wait and see how this ‘journalistic scoop’ turns out to be.

    • 1
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      Agree; if he is caught he should have been interdicted or even arrested like the ones in Kegalle. I believe this is more political motive than actual fact. On the other hand same story will continue for few more decades. No one is perfect but to my knowledge, the former principle somehow managed one of the most difficult task for 13 years. I have seen many good things including new initiatives which may be not the best joy for OBA and some others. Remember he is just a common man from Akuressa, got to Richmond College and then to Ananda College, graduated from Peradeniaya, got to Education Administration Service after writing SLEAS etc. Being a Royal Principle is one of the most difficult task itself since everybody from government, ministries, OBA, all wants to use their influence to get the kids to this school. Lets wait to see what happens to the investigation. I am sure this extra class is created by someone higher than him.

    • 1
      0

      Eldorado, please practice what you preach and then cast your stones (as you say) ” AFTER identifying yourself otherwise hold your peace forever”.

      Besides, the author of the piece isn’t using a pseudonym!

  • 0
    0

    “Why Former Royal Principal Is Not Interdicted?”

    Hello Kalang…. Its Royal…Royal…. Did’nt you know that???
    hello !!! Royal or R O Y A L … rajakeeya.

  • 2
    0

    Any Sri Lankan expecting balance and fairness when anything related to Rajakeeya Vidyalaya is being investigated has to be drunk or stupid, or both.

    With perhaps at least 10 or more cabinet ministers as alumni and, the Prime Minister of the nation who thinks nothing about wearing his college tie, when he was invited as the PM and not an alumni, we should not expect anything but a whitewash.

    The only reason Royal came up is because the other colleges were making a fuss asto how Royal was not being investigated. They opened a Pandora’s box and are now trying to close it.

    As the author has rightly mentioned, the problem is also the OBA and its members. They think they are above the law to begin with, because they have the right connections. The Principal thinks he is teflon-coated because of this and his influential parents.

    At the end of the day, this will be swept under the carpet and Akila Viraj will look a fool. He does not need any help in that department to begin with.

  • 0
    0

    To my mind, these tragic developments, mainly in the sectors like education were the by-products of failures in good governance for over 10 years. Corruption, nepotism, abuse of power, no rule of law were the key features of governance for over a decade.

    After seeing the comments like this I am really wondering whether the prefix to your name is one you have obtained by oiling a palm of somebody or you are a foreigner from a country like Canada where there is no competition to admit one’s son or daughter to a school with a name in the country as there is very little impact on child’s future on the school attend. On the other hand ,in Sri Lanka the school you attend will have significant bearing of the future of the child. even the very photograph in your article bear adequate testimony to my statement. while there may be say 10,000 schools in Sri Lanka,more than key cabinet positions are held by people who attended Royal or similar school. If Distance from home rule applied except Our PM Ranil others would not have got the opportunity to get admission to Royal.
    so how do you think karunatilake man from Galle, kirialla from some where from Kandy, Hakkem from Harispattuva, Sumathitaram from Jaffna entered Royal college.
    My point is every parent ,especially rich and middle class want to admit their son or daughter to school with a name ,like Royal ,St Thomas,Trinity, ladies, Vishaka etc. knowing very well that the school you attend will have the highest impact on child’s future.So what does that mean? Every parent will do whatever required to make their son or daughter admitted to a name with school.
    This practice is not that something introduced by Rajapakse regime or that is not something that can be stopped easily by PM Ranil or President Maitreepala. do not blame any of them .Because parent are prepared to do anything to get their child admitted to good school.
    unless we as parents are prepared to change or else, change the names of school to say from Royal to Kurunduwatta Vidyalaya, Ananda to Maradana Vidyalaya or else give names like 1,2,3 or some thing similar ,there are no simple solutions. or else stop all considerations when admitting children school except proximity to school only, students within certain say 2km distance should be admitted to particular school . But i do not think it can be implemented even by Ranil or Maithree or anybody the following day government will be toppled and country will come to standstill.

    ” If education system is not cleaned up and saved from those errant practitioners, we cannot imagine of a clean society.”

    Please remember there are no saints(those who attained Arahath stutus) in the society.Everybody has a price, for somebody it may be Rs 1000.00 and for another it may be 5 million or may be offering other services to person in authority in kind as required.
    all public servants including principals are poorly paid compared to cost. his salary is Rs75,000 per month but to a house one need these day says 15 million in colombo. so unless the Principal is an Arahat if offered say Rs 5m to admit child good school by rich man who will refuse ,becuase with his salary he can hardly rent a house but with such kind of offers he can have his dream house.
    What I am trying to point out is whole system should be changed but that is not an simple and easy solution.
    If you think only schools principal are corrupt it is a great mistake.
    Not a single public officer is paid a decent salary to maintain a decent living as public service is in this computer age 90% filled with unnecessary staff .can they be sacked .certainly not.
    On the other hand who is not corrupt now .if you take any public service including parliamentarians what percentage is do you think has never resorted to unfair ,unethical and corrupt practices my guess is less than 50%.
    so do not keep on blaming Rajapakse for all ills in the society and also do not blame Ranil or maithree if they do not solve the problems in society.
    this is a problem with most guys with PHD (permanent Head damage) no practical experience ,like some of our priest who only preach bana but never Practice.

  • 0
    0

    we are told that a secretary to the edu. ministry was transferred out because of the influence exercised by the a principal of royal.in SL it is axiomatic that those who are corrupt and powerful can escape from any criminal activity. can u name some one who was severely punished because of his corrupt practices. those who make complaints are punished. there are ‘minority’ principals who invite the members of the ruling families for school functions to advertise their influence among the parents and the larger society.
    i can say that the schools are there mainly for enhancing the academic proficiency of their students. but the principals appear to have their own agenda to swindle money and not at all interested in the academic advancement of their students. they know that tuition industry will look after this aspect and they make the best use the opportunity.
    -dayal

  • 0
    0

    After a warming late night cognac, an old and respected ‘Principal’ of a ‘well-known-but-never-to-be-named’ Sri Lankan Public School told me that “we are like priests, we have heard the confessions, and know the strengths and weaknesses of the men we helped to make. We keep their secrets. Locked up.” ” That is why, dear boy, we will always be treated with kid gloves”.

    I nodded sagely, and poured him another three-fingers of that warming amber liquid from my rapidly diminishing bottle of duty free delight.

  • 0
    0

    Poor 15 year old Sasanka Royal College student is lying brain dead at his home in Kollupitiya due to the incompetent Principal Gunasekera who did not have a life guard at the dis-Royal pool when a 13 year old Sasanka was bullied and made to drown at the Royal Pool until a parent saw him drowning and rushed him to the accident ward with no help and compensation whatsoever because Sasanka was from a very poor family. This is justice to the poor by the wretched old boys and the corrupt Principal of the so called “Royal” establishment.

    Retribution is slow but sure for this wretched and inhuman Gunasekera Principal whose days are now numbered, when you go down that road next to Methodist College and see the appaling condition in which Sasanka lives with with his near and dear begging for funds for physiotherapy to activate his brain muscles and trying to revive him at such a young age, God Bless and heal this boy, and woe be unto the wicked.

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