The controversy-plagued Year-One admissions policy delayed by a series of legal battles is being further hampered by the lack of senior education officers to sit on proposed admission committees and fears are being expressed that even the start of the new school year 2008 may be delayed.
Education Directors in the Western, Southern, Central and other provinces said they were facing difficulty in forming interview boards due to the lack of Deputy Education Directors who in terms of the new guidelines need to head the interview boards. Western Province Education Director D.M. Chandrapala said the interview boards of 302 schools in the Province should be formed with 40 Deputy Education Directors.
The interviews would be started in the main schools like Royal, Ananda, Nalanda and some 50 other national schools in the province. Gradually, the department hopes to conduct the admission interviews in the other schools. Mr. Chandrapala said every effort would be made to complete the process by the deadline of January 15.
Southern province Education Director N.G. Karunadasa said 75 interview boards had already been appointed but with only some 40 deputy directors in the province, they were facing serious difficulties. He said that to overcome the problem, some deputy directors were serving on two interview boards.
Mr. Karunadasa warned of possible delays as the interview process in some schools might be long and that would be followed by another long appeal process. An official of the Central Province Education Ministry said schools in the province were facing similar difficulties.
He said the first interview board meeting took place on Friday and as in other provinces the big schools would be handled first in an all-out effort to finish by the deadline. Meanwhile, the National School Principals’ Union’s decision not to get involved in the Grade-One admission process remains unchanged, Union President and Royal College Principal Upali Gunesekera said. He said the guidelines did not specifically provide for principals to be on the committee and furthermore, the Supreme Court had referred to allegations of widespread malpractice involving principals.
Mr. Gunasekera and other principals said there had been only a marginal increase in the number of applicants for Grade One, but the process would be long as more applicants had to be interviewed. He said Royal Colleged normally interviewed about 1000 applicants for 400 vacancies but in terms of the new guidelines, the board would have to interview some 2000 applicants.
Graded Principals’ Service Union General Secretary S. U. Kariyawasam, who is also the Deputy Principal of C.W.W. Kannangara College, Borella, said he saw no mechanism in the new guidelines to stop anyone from taking bribes.He said a few of the 10,000 principals might have allegedly taken bribes and thus it was unfair to tarnish the image of principals in general.
By Isuri Kaviratne