The Education Ministry today (24) appealed to protesting teachers and principals to end their trade union action by accepting the best offer the government can give.
Ministry Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera said the government is planning to allocate Rs.33 billion for salary increases of teachers and principals.
“The proposed salary increase by the Salaries and Cadre Commission was Rs.8.92 billion but the Cabinet sub-committee was able to convince and persuade and finally get the Cabinet to approve Rs.33 billion for salary increases. But the unions are demanding the Subodhini Committee report recommendations which require Rs. 70 billion, only for principal and teacher salary increases. It is impossible for the government to allocate the amount they are demanding for,” said Prof. Perera.
He said the Education Ministry understands the difficulty of re-opening schools without principals and teachers.
Plans are afoot to re-open 5000 schools with each having a student population below 200 students.
“Budget is usually a secret. There is no way for us to predict or assure what will be allocated through the budget. We request the unions to wait for the Budget proposal and to recommence academic work. Reporting to duty at a crucial time like this will attract a lot of respect from the society,” the Secretary said.
He said the Ministry is planning to issue a gazette by November 20 declaring the education service as a closed service so that salary increases will not affect other state sector employees.
“All other proposals will be implemented gradually over the next six months. Teachers who are on duty will be given the monthly allowance of Rs.5000,” he said.
Teacher and principal unions who have boycotted online teaching and examination duties for over two months have demanded a meeting with the Finance Minister to discuss their salary anomalies and grievances.
“There is a line of order. I cannot immediately organise a meeting between union representatives and the Finance Minister. I have discussed this with the Education Minister and a decision will be taken,” Prof. Perera said.
In total, Sri Lanka has some 10000 schools in which 5131 schools consist of less than 200 children. Among them, 3884 schools have only from grade 1 to five classes with a total number of students in each school being less than 200.
Secretary Perera also said that discussions would be held with provincial education officials next week on the next steps that need to be taken to reopen the schools with assistance from parents, past pupils and well-wishers.