(By Akitha Wijayasinghe)
The Cabinet of Ministers decided yesterday (1) to recruit officers to the Grade III of the Principals’ Service without holding an examination.
According to the Cabinet decision, this decision has been taken due to the prevailing Covid 19 situation in the country, as it has been observed that it will take more than a year to conduct competitive examination and structured interview and make formal appointments amid the pandemic.
“There are about 4600 vacancies in the Sri Lanka Principals’ Service in grade I,II,III at the present and it has been observed that it will take more than a year to conduct competitive examination and structured interview and make formal appointments due to the prevailing corona pandemic in the country. Taking these facts to consideration, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal tabled by the Minister of Education to take necessary measures to select and appoint qualified candidates to the grade III of the Sri Lanka Principals’ Service by giving opportunity to qualified officers of the teaching services who have been acting and covering duties of principals for a long term and other officers who met the qualifications according to the service minute by a structured interview instead of conducting a competitive examination which only confined to this occasion.”
This Cabinet decision to recruit officers to Grade III of the Principals’ Service without holding a competitive examination, is a violation of the No. 1885/31 Service Minute of the Sri Lanka Principals’ Service, the Ceylon Teachers’ Union.
It is regretful that a government that came to power to ensure the rule of law is acting in such an illegal manner, the Union said in their statement.
The Ceylon Teachers’ Union states that it is hysterical to take such a decision by the Cabinet, ruling that it would take over an year to conduct a competitive examination due to the pandemic situation.
“It is ironic that the above cabinet decision mentions that it will take more than a year to hold a competitive examination amid the Covid epidemic. The A / Level examination was held island wide during the Covid situation and at present the G.C.E. O/ Level examination is also being held at 4513 centers and will be held for 10 days. Despite the possibility of holding such national level examinations, it shows the deception of the government from its statement that it takes more than a year to hold a one-day competitive examination to select 4600 principals.”
“It is a disgusting act by the government to appoint unqualified acting political henchmen who failed to get elected in the competitive examinations of the Principals’ Service in previous years, violating the Service Minute under the guise of the Covid 19 epidemic,” the Teachers’ Union added.
In the article 18.104.22.168.1 of the Service Minute, it is clearly stated that,
“Based on the aggregate of marks obtained at the written examination, candidates constituting twice the number of vacancies in the order of merit of the highest marks will be called for the general interview. Those who are found to be eligible from such interview will be called for the structured interview.”
The Ceylon Teachers’ Union further stated that the above Cabinet decision completely violates even the methodology mentioned in this article of the Service Minute and that unlawful appointment of 4,600 principals to nearly half of the 10,174 schools in the country is a further deterioration of the education system.
It was in 2019 when a Principal Service competitive examination was held for the last time, the Union states.
“The Cabinet decision states that this decision was taken to give the opportunity to the officers who have been acting and covering the duties of the principals for a long period of time. A Principal Service competitive examination was held for the last time an examination in 2019. Accordingly, the long acting teachers in the Principals’ Service had ample opportunity to appear for the examinations and enter the Principals’ Service.
At present the acting principals are the officers of the Teachers’ Service who have been appointed as acting principals due to various political affiliations. It is clear from the above Cabinet decision that attempts have been made to appoint them without holding a competitive examination in the Principals’ Service in this manner in the event of unsuccessful attempts to place them in the posts of Principals on several occasions.” the Union emphasized.
The Ceylon Teachers’ Union demanded an immediate halt to the “disgusting appointment of principals by a cabinet memorandum in violation of the Sri Lanka Principals’ Service Minute.”
If this Cabinet decision is to be implemented, all parties in the field of education will join together for a severe trade union action, the Union added.
When contacted the Assistant Secretary to the Department Education, Kapila Perera, he told MediaLK that no comments can be issued on this regard.