Advanced Level students kept in suspense as deadlock continues
The marking of Advanced Level answer scripts was to have begun today, according to an assurance given by Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena, but the Federation of University Trade Unions (FUTA) says no marking of papers will be carried out until the current union action is called off.
Educationists and trade union activists say any further delay would have an adverse impact on the academic system. Ceylon Teachers Service Union general secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe said that a delay in releasing exam results would affect students waiting to enter university or expecting to re-sit the exam.
If the Government had the students’ interests at heart, the crisis would have been resolved by now, he said. Ceylon Teachers Union general secretary Joseph Stalin said university academics played a key role in A/Level paper marking because they had a say in decisions on university admissions. “They are boycotting paper marking, and they have our support,” he told the Sunday Times.
Mr. Stalin rejected the suggestion that retired university lecturers and school teachers may be recruited to mark A/L answer scripts. “Retired teachers and lecturers are not familiar with the new syllabus, so they cannot mark papers,” he added.
University of Colombo Senior Professor in Sociology Siri Hettige said the Department of Examinations was losing credibility. “An immediate solution is needed regarding internal issues and education experts should be consulted,” he said.
UNP joins FUTA and unions in protest march tomorrow
By Aanya Wipulasena
The Federation of Teachers Association (FUTA) is organis ing a protest march tomorrow (24) from Galle to Colombo demanding the Government look into the issues concerning higher education. The main Opposition UNP will join the protest march, along with student unions, trade unions and other organizations, to show its strong objections to the current situation in the higher education sector.
In a media statement UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said the main reasons his party is joining the protest march is to demand the Government open the universities for studies and to start paper marking of the A/L papers which were on hold.
Meanwhile, a series of protests by university students took place around the country last Thursday condemning the arrest of Sanjeewa Bandara, convener of the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF). Above 3,000 students took part in these protests at the Rajarata, Sabaragamuwa and Peradeniya Universities, by the students of the Ruhuna University in Galle town and at the Colombo Fort Railway Station, Chinthaka Rajapaksa, the acting convener of the federation told the Sunday Times.
Policemen in civvies arrested Sanjeewa Bandara as he was on his way from Colombo Fort to Sri Jayawardhanapura University after a satyagraha the IUSF launched last Tuesday.
Chinthaka Rajapaksa who was with him at the time the arrest was made told the Sunday Times the men who arrested Sanjeewa Bandara dragged him out of the bus they were travelling in and put him into a jeep marked ‘Slave Island Police’ on its sides. He further stated that this act was contrary to the manner in which a policeman should arrest an individual.
The police told the Sunday Times that the arrest was made by the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) following a protest by the IUSF which took place on August 29 when the police claim a group of students led by its convener attacked and caused damages to police property.
The police stated that they have caused damage estimated at Rs.70, 000 to police property.However human rights activists question why the police didn’t take any action when the incident actually took place.
A media conference was held by the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and Centre for Human Rights (CHR) last Thursday where the activists interpreted the arrest as an abduction made to sabotage FUTA trade union action.
CaFFE executive director Keerthi Tennakoon said the Government is trying to disrupt the rally which is to commence tomorrow.
The protest march which is to take place tomorrow is considered to be a major step by FUTA and other organizations towards providing a better education system for the country.
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