Condemning the latest cabinet-approved circular on admission of children to grade one, representatives of past pupils’ associations of over 30 schools countrywide expressed their displeasure over the matter while several filed fundamental rights petitions at the Supreme Court yesterday.
Following the FR petition filed by the Ananda College OBA at the Supreme Court on Monday, the past pupils’ associations of a number of other schools including Nalanda College, Royal College, Visaka Vidyalaya, Dharmapala College – Pannipitiya, Anula Vidyalaya and D S Senanayake College filed petitions yesterday morning. At a press briefing organised by the Joint Committee of Past Pupils’ Associations (JCPPA) yesterday it was said that grave injustice had been done to the category of past pupils according to the new circular concerning the points scheme for admitting children to grade one.
President JCPPA and Ananda College OBA, Isuru Samarasinghe, said that already seven schools had filed petitions by the time the press briefing commenced yesterday morning and many more would do so by Wednesday morning and the Supreme Court had decided to take up the case for hearing.
Explaining the issue, Convener of JCPPA and Vice President Ananda College OBA, Dr. Aruna Rabel, said several aspects such as religious ratio, admitting children on a quota system and based on proximity to the school, granting a quota of 25% for children of past pupils and the priority given for police and forces personnel serving in the operational areas have been neglected in the new circular.
In 1961 when schools were taken over by the government, then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike gave an assurance in the Parliament that the religious ratio in those schools would be maintained as per the ratio at the time of the take -over. Subsequent circulars had also maintained the status quo except for a few attempts made by authorities to remove this clause from the circulars, which were reversed with timely intervention of past pupils’ associations.
“The circular published in the newspapers does not include the clause regarding the maintenance of religious ratio in those schools.
This will lead to a situation where the religious identity will be disturbed in Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, Christian and Muslim schools coming under the religious schools category,” Dr. Rabel explained.
“The second point is that the clauses of the new circular on admitting children based on proximity to the school had grossly violated the previous judgment of the Supreme Court.
According to the judgment given by the Supreme Court on March 29, 2007 the quota system as well as admitting children based on proximity to the school had been declared illegal.
But by the new circular the admission of children to schools have been limited to the relevant local government authority areas.
In the previous system, the police and the security forces personnel serving in the operational areas had been given priority and there was no area limitation for such applicants. According to the new circular they also have been limited to local government areas and only 10 marks are given for their devotion for the country’s security, he said.
Secretary Royal College Old Boys’ Union Rizam Nazeeq said the situation had worsened when the past pupils’ category was given only a maximum 18 marks causing an injustice to the past pupils. According to the previous system a provision of 25% of admissions was given to the children of the past pupils. Considering the valuable contribution of the past pupils to maintain the standards of those schools there was no limitation of areas for the applicants under this category earlier. “But the new circular defines the local government area where they limit such applicants,” Mr. Nazeeq said.