The Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) says that the project office of the ‘Nearest School is the Best School’ project, which was implemented as a flagship school development project under the government of President Maithripala Sirisena, has been closed down. Issuing a statement, the union also questioned what happened to the Rs. 64,950 million allocated for the project.
The union claimed that the project, which was scheduled to run for four years from 2016 to 2020, had planned to implement 18,000 projects, including the construction of 9,063 schools, and that the project had been abandoned outright after the current government came to power. The Teachers’ Union said that construction work on more than 700 schools has been halted and further emphasized that building contractors has removed their equipment from schools, adding that the abandoned buildings has become a serious burden on schools.
Some of the buildings were constructed under the construction of new buildings after the removal of the existing ones. Accordingly, not having adequate space have also arisen as an issue in schools. The office of the Ministry of Education, which implementation of this project was related to, has also been closed due to the implementation of this project.
The union points out that it is a serious problem to allow the money allocated for such a large project from the people’s tax money to be misused and that it is a misuse of public money to stop or abandon existing projects, except to focus on their projects when governments change.
The Ceylon Teachers’ Union also sates that under the present government, the Ministry of Education has put forward a project called ‘Renovation of 1000 National Schools’ and is giving nearly Rs. 2 million to a school but abandoning a project of Rs. 64,950 million, without any assessment.
Immediate attention should be paid to the stalling of school construction due to non-payment of contractors and other reasons, and that it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to move the education system to a more productive function instead of misleading propaganda projects, the Union stated.
It is also mentioned in the statement that,
“In 2016, 40% of the money for this project was released to the Provincial Councils. The Ceylon Teachers’ Union has also complained to the Bribery and Corruption Commission about some of the fraudulent activities that took place during this project.
For example, there is no school called Nachchaduwa Sinhala Primary School and funds have been allocated for a building, and although Rs. 24 million allocated for a three storied building at Mahanama College, Tirappane, only the foundation stone has been laid. An audit has also been conducted on 2020 schools in the North Central Province related to this project.”