Court order on volunteer teachers
- Graduates’ petition says ‘unqualified’
persons are not entitled to positions at schools
The Supreme Court has issued an interim order imposing a restraint on the recruitment or appointment of volunteer teachers as teacher assistants until the court has given its judgement in regard to a fundamental rights application filed by a group of university graduates.
In their fundamental rights application, petitioners Indrajith Wasantha Ranawaka and two others have cited as respondents Education Minister Susil Premajayantha; Secretary, Ministry of Education, Nimal Bandara; Chief Minister – Southern Province, Shan Wijayalal de Silva, Governor – Southern Province, Kumari Balasooriya; the Attorney General and seven others.
The petitioners say they are holders of bachelor of fine arts degrees, conferred by the University of the Visual and Performing Arts.
They also say they are members and office bearers of the Southern Province Aesthetic Unemployed Graduates Association. The association has 106 members, all holders of university degrees in the performing arts.
The petitioners state that there are 480 vacancies for teachers of aesthetic studies in schools in the Southern Province. They claim the respondents are seeking to appoint volunteer teachers with five years’ experience for these posts. According to the petition, the so-called volunteer teachers are mostly GCE O/Level qualified persons, and none of them has a university degree.
The petition says that in 2002, the Southern Province Education Authorities issued a series of circulars banning the recruitment and appointment of volunteer teachers in the Southern Province. School principals who recruited such volunteer teachers could face disciplinary action.
The petition says the Teachers’ Minute of 1995, which spells out required teacher qualifications and teacher recruitment procedures, makes no mention of a “volunteer teacher” category, and that the above-mentioned volunteer teachers had no qualifications as specified in the said Teachers’ Minute.
Most importantly, Clause 4 of Appendix 111 of the Provincial Council List in the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka stipulates the qualifications for recruitment into the teaching service in provincial schools. The petitioners quote from the clause: “ … Recruitment into the Teaching Service of those with diplomas and degrees, from Colleges of Education and Universities, recognised as teaching qualifications. ”
The petitioners claim the respondents’ proposed recruitment of volunteer teachers was unlawful.
The case was fixed for argument on July 30, 2008.The Supreme Court bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justice Saleem Marsoof and Justice K. Sripavan.
Counsels Ronald Perera and Nalin Amarageewa appeared for the petitioners, and Senior State Counsel Harsha Fernando appeared for the Attorney General.