Who is responsible for the future of 4.3 Million students in this country? The Government, or the truant teacher band on strike?
Posted on October 7th, 2021

Dr. Sudath Gunasekara.

This is a copy of a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Ministry of education, Sri Lanka by a concerned citizen.

Dr. Sudath Gunasekara. Former Secretary to PM Sirimavo Bandaranayaka,  Sec. Ministry of Technical Education and Addl Sec Ministry of Education.7.10/2021.

Mahanuwara

The Secretary Ministry of Education

Dear Secretary, Prof Kapila,

I am writing this note to you as a one-time teacher, a Principal of a school, Secretary Ministry of Technical Education and Additional Sec to Ministry of Higher Education to draw your immediate attention to the month’s old Joseph Stalin’s teachers strike.

It is now almost three months for this comic and stale drama dragging on without a solution. This raises a most fundamental question. Is there a Government in this country today? 4.3 million Students at home but without a teacher to teach. Conversely 140.000 teachers on strike not attending to their work, engaged in Island wide protest demonstrations asking for higher salaries. But getting their full salaries regularly paid from public funds without any return to education for the money they get. How long are we going to tolerate this situation as a nation is the million dollar question?

As a concerned citizen and a retired senior public servant I am deeply surprised as to why the Government is not taking any action to settle this problem by talking to them face to face and offering a reasonable solution on the premise that they have a genuine grievance. It is a fact that here is a big anomaly between the salaries paid to them and the salaries paid to some other public servants due to haphazard decisions taken by some Ministers of all governments. But one must realize that the salaries of    one category cannot be changed overnight without looking in to the salary structure of the entire public Sector.  This takes time. It is the bounden duty of the Government to revise such salary schemes at least once in every five years. If the politicians think it is only their salaries and other benefits and those of their favorites that need regular increases, then that is a sad mistake.

Nevertheless I don’t agree what the teacher community is doing and the way they are doing it. After all teaches are an intelligent and responsible part of the society not only in disseminating knowledge to children but also setting an example to the whole society as to how they should behave.

On the other hand teacher also should understand that they work only five hours a day, five days a week and nine months a year. But they get paid for the whole year. As such it is not correct for them to compare their salaries with those of other categories some of them who work practically every day eight hours and throughout the year with no long vacation.

 Another factor standing against their action is the timing. They being an accepted intelligent and a disciplined segment of the society should understand the ethic and morality of behaving like thugs and illiterate hooligans exposing their nudity on the public highways. These educated and intelligent teachers must also look at the quality and social standing of the trade union leaders who take them on a blind alley leading to a dead end where they will end despised and ridiculed by the society. Therefore In my opinion it is time for them at least now to open their eyes and minds and also hearts as an intelligent and responsible segment of the society who are wedded to an honorable and noble job to re-think twice and reconsider  their folly and return to work immediately without degrading this noble profession any more.

Meanwhile it is also noteworthy as to how Tamil, Muslim and international schools are running without any interruption.

 I also request them to look at the way how the members in the health sector and the members of the Three Forces work, rather get killed’ physically and mentally, often keeping their lives at high risk, day and night to save the nation from the present Covid disaster. Therefore it is high time for the teachers to change their hard attitudes at least now and return to what I call A teacher’s mental framework’ and avoid getting stoned and manhandled by the unruly public mob, and finally condemned by the entire society. This was the impression of what will happen in few days to come, I got, as I was watching yesterday’s news over the TV.

Mr Secretary  I suggest you address these teacher community in this vein and language and request them to report back immediately within 3 days  promising them justice so that you can reopen the schools filled with children and teachers on the 22 of this month. Thensanity will return to schools once again without getting tarnished, thereby preserving the image of one of the noblest professions in the world. As for me I am proud to say that in my 35 years of public service my time as the Principal and teacher Sanghabodhi Mahavidyaalaya, Minipe was the most memorable period. Job satisfaction wise honestly it was even better than my assignment as the Secretary to the Prime Minister of this country Mrs Sirima Bandaranaayaka. This is why I consider the teaching profession to be nobler even than the medical profession as even they were taught by their teachers and 1/3 of what they are today, they owe to their teachers as the other 2/3 is equally divided between one’s parents and oneself.

If they don’t respond your request positively then you have no alternative but to serve them with an AR 191 notice.

If they don’t respond your request positively then you have no alternative but to use your powers as Secretary to the Ministry of Education who is responsible for the proper implementation of the Government’s Educational policy of the Government, to put an end to this coup against the government and to protect the birth rights of a 4.3 million student population in this country. Then, you will go down in history as a hero who won the 3 months old war against 4.3 million students by an unruly mob of 140,000 selfish men and women called teachers, misdirected by a lunatic called Joseph Stalin a professional trade unionist who has never being a professional teacher to lead a noble profession.

 I suggest you follow the following cause of action even reluctantly, as it is your duty as a public servant by the children and the country

Although it is already too late and stale, I suggest that at least now you take some stern action against these rubble rousers to put an end to this nuisance, if you want to open the schools on the 22nd.

First as a person with wisdom you give them a final notice asking them to report for duties immediately through the press, radio and TV, informing them that if they don’t report for duty within 3 days as directed, they will be treated as persons who have ceased to be teachers anymore under AR 191 as they have left the Service on their own, without informing the Authorities. I also suggest that you send a copy of this notice to all heads of schools, Training colleges etc asking them to report to you as to who don’t report at the end of the 3rd day.

If they fail to report as directed serve all of them with AR 191 notice informing their services have been terminated. That will put an end to this 3 months old nuisance once and for all, leaving the truant 140,000 teachers jobless.

I can assure you that at least 95 % of the Teachers, except those who are heavily involved in private tuition as their source of income will report for duty, once this is done

Concurrently call for application from qualified persons immediately for recruiting new teachers. Once they are appointed put them under a strict code of conduct as they are expected to arm the younger generation not only with knowledge but also with discipline so that they will also not behave like the present day teachers.

At the same time ask the Government to arrest both Joseph Stalin and Mahinda Jayasinha under the PTA and take action against them for conspiracy and mutiny against the Government and whatever other charges appropriate for their offences like instigating public gathering violating the rules imposed by the health authorities making room for another Covid crisis.

 The whole country is against this strike

Practically all the teachers to whom I have spoken are against this strike. They also see it as an anti-government, anti-social, unethical, and uncivilized action manipulated by an anti-government extremist group to fulfill their hidden political ideologies.

As the Government headed by an Executive President with a 2/3 majority in Parliament, with 70 Ministers, 9 governors all over the country has failed to settle a simple problem like this, people have begun to ask as to why we have a government with a top heavy governing machinery to maintain a set of politicians and public servants spending 85 % of the total tax collectors money in this country. They also ask the very pertinent question as to why not hand over the Ministry of Agriculture and food to Dudly Sirisena and Education to Stalin.

As a senior citizen who had been watching this pathetic situation with sadness and much concern, I just want to ask you, as a favorite of this Government, as to why you didn’t take action against these truant teachers under AR 191, as the Secretary of the Ministry, who is responsible for the smooth running of the education system in this country. Once again I suggest you just serve AR 191 and that will put an end to this 3-month-old nuisance.  Not only that, this will create a precedent so that no public servant will resort to this type of cheap gimmick in the foreseeable future.

The moment you take this course of action, other than those who are heavily involved in private tuition as their main source of income without doing their duty in schools in any case will definitely return to work.  Practically all the teachers to whom I have spoken are against this strike as they are fed up by staying at home and getting despised by the society. They see it as an anti-government, anti-social, unethical, and uncivilized action by an anti-government extremist group.

If a Government headed by an Executive President with a 2/3 majority in Parliament also can’t solve even a simple problem like this, then why are we having a Government spending 85% of the national tax collections on the upkeep of politicians and a public service.  This is a very pertinent question everybody is asking today. They also ask as to why we have  a government if the Government is going to leave the destiny of Education in this country in the hands of a group of lunatics and social enemies  who had never being good teachers in their life time other than  acting as rubble rousers only throughout their lives.

I am copying this note to the Minister /Education Mr. Dinesh Gunawardhana and also to the Press.

7 Responses to “Who is responsible for the future of 4.3 Million students in this country? The Government, or the truant teacher band on strike?”

  1. Charles Says:

    the government should make teaching and on line teaching an essential service specially in this period of Covid, and arrest Joseph Stalin the Sriçl Lanka one and Mahindfa Jayasinghe and their,instigators in JVP. That will stop the strike. Then the Government can look into the teachers salaries which is a promise mùade by the President in Saubh

  2. Charles Says:

    the government should make teaching and on line teaching an essential service specially in this period of Covid, and arrest Joseph Stalin the Sriçl Lanka one and Mahindfa Jayasinghe and their,instigators in JVP. That will stop the strike. Then the Government can look into the teachers salaries which is a promise mùade by the President in Saubhagye Dakma

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    One aspect that I strongly stand with the Teachers is that this lockdown will lead to them being replaced by cyber education. One of the goals of the global lockdown is to “reset” present economies with high tech. The problem of high tech cyber education is that tech centers have an unusual level of control

    Initially Colombo will have full say as to what a student learns from remote education, in the privacy of his home, but Colombo will eventually lose as centers like Silicon Valley insist that this student is taught “values” important to America including liberal western version of history, the values of secularism over religion, multiculturalism and in short everything that is being taught to students in the West. It is the vision of men like Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum and his “Great Reset’ – The teachers maybe wrong on several issues but don’t replace them with computers

  4. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Remote Learning maybe the ultimate power grab by the West. It will reach across the planet and enter into that students life through cyber space bypassing national governments. It will raise a new generation who finds local traditions more alien to his perspective than the lifestyles of the West

  5. aloy Says:

    Dr. Sudath,

    Do you mean to say that all those teachers who are on strike truant?. If you do, then to my mind this is coming from a very insincere person. I have highest respect for all my teachers even though some have caned me couple of times for no apparent reason.

    Our teachers are producing scientists, engineers and doctors who can go to any place in the world and outshine others in their fields. So, how can you say arrest the truant teachers?. And imagine the outcome when they are detained in jails. You must be a person with sadistic mind!.

    Well, this is my view which has no specific theme please.

  6. aloy Says:

    Just look at the girl, Yohani. She is what she is today because of the education she got at Vishaka (to say, “ape kamata garukaranawa mang”). Who else would have taught her to be self confident when she faces all those interviews and answer correctly and most appropriately. I have seen the letters of appreciation some girls wrote to their teachers both in SL and overseas, my wife included.

    The teachers in Sri Lanka are fighting for a just cause; something that they have been denied for a very long time.

  7. aloy Says:

    Listen to another product of our teachers in Nugegoda St. Johns College and Royal, Colombo, now in world stage:

    “https://youtu.be/c5aj2wpS6p4”

    His teachers also may be in active service and on strike today.

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