Sept 14, Colombo: Ven. Dr. Omalpe Sobhitha Thero, Chief Prelate of the Ramanna Maha Nikaya in Southern Sri Lanka has called on the teachers, principals and the government to come to a middle ground for the sake of the children’s future.
“On behalf of all parents, I request the government and teachers and principals to come to a middle ground. The future of children is something we all need to think about and come to a neutral position. Teachers’- Principals' Associations agree to take at least the 33% decided by the Sub-Committee. The government should also be humble. The Teachers’ & Principals' associations have been trying to meet the Minister of Finance for two weeks. To date no green light has been received from the Minister of Finance,” the Chief Prelate said.
Ven. Sobhitha Thera was speaking at a media briefing held after his meeting with a delegation of the Graded Principals' Association.
“Today 80% of the teaching profession is women. A serious crisis. Men are not attracted to this profession. It is widely accepted that teaching is a second or third class occupation. That is why men do not come to the teaching profession but seek other specialist careers,” he noted.
“A ministerial subcommittee was recently appointed to look into the problems of teaching professionals. The subcommittee headed by Minister Wimal Weerawansa decided that only one third of the salary anomaly could be resolved. There has been no proper exchange of views with the representatives of the teachers' unions in this regard. However, the Cabinet rejected the proposal. The Cabinet says that one-third recommended by the sub-committee appointed by them cannot be paid and that only one-fourth will be paid. This is not an extreme injustice, this is an insulting act.”
“If the Cabinet cannot accept the decision of the Sub-Committee, why was a Sub-Committee appointed? A subcommittee is like a tribunal. If the decision is changed without acknowledging it, would not that subcommittee be subject to ridicule and contempt?
“The government must agree to pay at least the 33% the subcommittee decided. Although the request of teachers and principals is not completely met, the government should be flexible and seek the assistance of teacher principals to solve this problem by paying at least that level. The Cabinet should not further downplay the resolution of the Sub-Committee. Do not underestimate the demands of teachers in this way,” Omalpe Sobitha Thero said.
Around 250,000 teachers have been holding a national online teaching strike since July 12 over longstanding demands for higher salaries.