Media recently reported that there is only one IO (Information Officer) appointed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act for national schools at Isurupaya who is unable to answer all the many information requests being made by parents.
That Information Officer is apparently dodging calls by parents. When parents go to the Education Ministry personally demanding answers under RTI, the officer is nowhere to be seen and is in hiding!
The Colombo Telegraph was also unable to get through to the Ministry appointed Information Officer. However when Colombo Telegraph contacted confidential sources within the Ministry as to why this so, it was learnt that the Ministry does not want to nominate principals as information officers as then all the nefarious dealings by politicians will come to light. Principals will disclose how they are forced to giving special treatment to one child over another because of pressure from outside quarters.’Everyone is getting scared of this Act’ the source told Colombo Telegraph. ‘Kattiya dangalanawa (they are squirming).”
In one instance, a principal of a well known school in Galle had been repeatedly questioned by an angry mother as to why her child was not admitted to primary Grade and had finally told her ‘I had no choice. I was sent a ‘chit’ by a politician to admit another child so I had to listen to that. If I am allowed to give that information, I will as I have to by law and then, I will not lose my job.’ In another case, the principal of a school had given the information asked for even though he was not the information officer and the parent has filed a court case challenging her child’s rejection to school based on that information.
Unable to cope with the pressure, Isurupaya has said that it will establish a special unit of Information Officers to ‘deal’ with those requests. But the question is if members of this ‘special unit’ will be ‘coached’ to give answers in a particular way so as to avoid their duties under the RTI Act. Colombo Telegraph will be monitoring this.