Education Minister Susil Premajayantha informed Parliament yesterday he would take steps to call for applications for Grade one school admissions according to the previous circular with necessary amendments since political parties stressed the need to ignore guidelines set by the Supreme Court.
The House took up the issue as an adjournment motion proposed by the JVP which noted that there would be a serious threat to free education if the Supreme Court guidelines were implemented.
Minister Premajayantha said applications would be called from August 15 in conformity with the previous 2006/20 circular after introducing the necessary amendments to it.
He said he would act in this regard only in keeping with the common viewpoint expressed in Parliament by political parties to do away with the Supreme Court guidelines which could give rise to numerous practical problems.
The Minister said circular 2006/20 was cancelled on a Supreme Court ruling on March 29, over a fundamental rights case filed by parents regarding admission of their children to Matara Sujatha Balika Vidyalaya and Ambalangoda Dharmasoka Vidyalaya.
The UNP which opposed the Supreme Courts guidelines on school admissions said the party would support the Minister if he came out with a new act to introduce new guidelines on admissions. Opening the debate for the UNP, MP Kabir Hashim said it was the Minister who should be responsible to Parliament. He said there was no need to have a minister if he couldn’t be responsible to the House.
Mr. Hashim pointing out the UNP had always worked towards giving equal opportunities to all people, charged that the government had closed the door on poor children.
JVP MP Vijitha Herath warned the issue would lead to a major crisis if it was not looked into immediately. “This may lead to a people’s uprising,” he said.
JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake said these guidelines would lead to various frauds. He explained that parents would produce forged birth certificates by changing the name of the child’s father. The MP said there were men who had given their surnames to many children. In addition he said parents would resort to giving bribes to teachers conducting the aptitude tests for the children. He said parents would also issue forged educational certificates and appointment letters to get their children into schools.
By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera