ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 2, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 40

Out with money and in go your kids

  • Big bucks in the way of contributions and raffle ticket sales go a long way in getting grade one admission to some big state schools, parents learn

By Isuri Kaviratne, Pix by Berty Mendis

Year One admissions has turned out to be an expensive affair for many parents with some of them being forced to spend about Rs. 700,00 to get their children admitted to leading schools, and yet others being forced to make various “contributions” and “donations”.

In clear violation of the 2008 circular issued on Year One admissions, schools are directly asking for ‘donations’ and contributions from parents or indirectly by forcing them to sell raffle tickets to raise funds for the school.

A mothers’ tears for her son who was not admitted to D.S. Senanayake Vidyalaya

In one instance the Old Girls’ Association of Kiribathgoda Vihara Maha Devi Vidyalaya had issued Rs.10,000 worth raffle tickets to parents of Grade One applicants instructing them to sell the tickets and give the proceeds to the school. This was in addition to the Rs. 50,000 each they demanded from the applicants for admission. Two weeks prior to releasing the temporary name list of those admitted to the school the old girls’ association had called a meeting and informed the parents of the children who had applied for Grade One to pay Rs.50 000 as a donation to the OGA if they wished to secure the childrens’ position in the Grade One list.

The names of the children of the OGA members who had not paid the Rs. 50 000 and had refused to sell the tickets had been cut off from the temporary list of names.

In another a case involving a leading boys’ school in Colombo, the principal’s nominee and the Ministry representatives had been allegedly acting in collusion to take bribes when admitting children to the school with the support of a third party. The method used was to select boys to the school through the normal procedure and contact their parents through the third party and inform them that their child may have a chance of being admitted to this leading school if they were willing to pay some amount to this third party.

Some parents have even paid as much as Rs. 700 000, but some others who didn’t pay the money too had found their children’s names on the admission list, indicating that the monies had been obtained from some of the parents whose children had already been on the selected list.

The Sunday Times learns that in some instances, school Past Pupils’ Associations had allegedly acted as the third party to take bribes from applicants.

Some parents contacted by The Sunday Times said that they prefer to give the money and get their children admitted rather than collecting documents, filing objections and appeals.

Already complaints about some of the principals allegedly accepting bribes have been sent to the Bribery and Corruption Commision. Bribery and corruption commission Director of investigations SP Neville Guruge said 12 investigations on bribes taken by principals and teachers are pending and with the completion of those investigations, the Commission could go to courts to file cases against the relevant parties.

However, commenting on looking into the assets of the complained party he added that it depends on the complaint. If the complaint includes the properties of the accused the Commission would hold an inquiry as well but if not the commission would not look into it.

He said that out of the 12 investigations, three are against principals of leading boys’ schools in Colombo. “We got some complaints from the Ministry of Education secretary but we couldn’t hold investigations on all the complaints as some were regarding disciplinary matters and we could handle only bribery and corruption issues”, he said adding that anyone can make a complaint with the Commission against bribery and they would investigate.

Within last three years, Mr. Guruge said that the Commission held open investigations against seven school principals and had arrested them as well on being proved guilty.The Education ministry ruling that no donations should be received to admit children to school applies to all grades.

Why am I outside the gates and why is he in? is probably what this little boy who did not gain admission to D.S. Senanayake Vidyalaya is thinking.

Mr. Guruge said that they held investigations on a complaint made regarding taking bribes when admitting a student to an A/L class too. According to the regulations donations can only be accepted with the permission of the Ministry of Education.

The circular issued by the Ministry of Education states: “in the process of admission of children to all government and assisted private schools, apart from the facilities and service charges, it is strictly prohibited to charge/ obtain any other fees or donations or any type of goods and equipment.”

The circular further states that no influence should be made even after the admission of children and serious action would be taken for such acts. The circular also says associations affiliated to schools, such as Past Pupils’ Associations and School Development Societies, should not engage in such activities too.

The circular also prohibits collection of money from present students or engaging them in any other fund generation activity. If a special need arises the school committee should obtain approval from the Ministry of Education secretary or the Provincial Director of Education and if it is a Provincial school, the Committee should seek permission from the Provincial Education Director via the Zonal Education Director.

A survey conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives on Corruption in Sri Lanka in 2007, says that 80% of those who use alternative methods to gain admission to schools use money and the rest of the 20% use influence.

According to the survey 82% of those who accepted monetary bribes, were men and 18% were women while 96% of the people who have bribed officials to obtain a place in a school for their children claimed that they were demanded to do so.

The section of the Education Ministry circular that prohibits obtaining any kind of donations in money or kind


The raffle ticket distributed by the Old Girls’ Association of Kiribathgoda Vihara Maha Devi Vidyalaya
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