Govt. fiddles while Z-score fiasco and FUTA strikes simmer
While both the school education system and the university education sector have been thrown into turmoil in the past few months, due to the Z-score fiasco and the protracted trade union action by university academics respectively, Government response remained more lukewarm than one of urgency to resolve the matters, when the issues came up last week in Parliament.
While the Opposition raised the issues in Parliament, university lectures also brought their message of defiance closer to home, when they staged a protest on the road leading to the Legislature on Thursday. But, going by the remarks of Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayaka, the Government also seemed steadfast in sticking to its position of not giving into the demands of the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA).
The stalemate with regard to the Z-score mess up between students and the education authorities also seemed likely to continue unresolved much longer, after Deputy Minister of Higher Education Nandamitra Ekanayaka said that the final decision on how best to resolve the matter has been referred to the Attorney Generals’ Department. This was in the wake of nearly 500 students once again petitioning the Supreme Court seeking redress for an injustice done to them by the newly released Z-scores.
“We want justice for all students,” the Deputy Minister said, but as to how that goal is going to be achieved will be interesting to see in the next few days.
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who raised the issue in Parliament on Tuesday, said that the Z-score crisis has developed into catastrophic proportions, owing to the “malicious and lackadaisical manner” in which the problem has been handled by the relevant government institutions, “It is the responsibility of us all to save our children from this situation. It is the duty of us all to apply pressure on the Government to rectify the injustice caused to those children,” he said.
Mr. Wickremesinghe said that the UNP had requested the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on this matter and resolve the problem, also with the assistance of all academics and experts, but the Government failed to do it.The absence of Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayaka on Tuesday, to answer questions raised by the Opposition Leader was also a matter of debate, with Mr. Wickremesinghe stating that such issues were raised in the House by the Opposition in anticipation of a reply from the minister in charge of the subject.
Deputy Minister Nandimithra Ekanayaka who replied instead, said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has intervened in the matter and also consulted with Vice Chancellors of every university, for an increased intake of students for the new academic year.
The Opposition Leader also raised the issue of the FUTA strike action, saying that, the inability to resolve the matter now threatens to disrupt the marking of the Advanced Level answer scripts.“The issue of university lecturers is dragging on for over a long period. Discussions were held, but still no solution has been found,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said on Thursday.
Minister S.B. Dissanayake who was present in the House on Thursday, said that the university teachers have been given an unprecedented salary increase recently, and that, some of the demands put forward by these university teachers are laughable.With regard to the FUTA issue, both sides are stubbornly sticking to their respective positions for now, while the Z-score issue is likely to once again depend on the outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
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