Abuse of state property
With election fever building up in the
NCP, the government candidates are
reportedly having a field day with the
use of state property for
The UNP is now ready to move for a writ
of mandamus in court against the Chief
Secretary of the North Central Province
(NCP) in a bid to prevent the illegal
According to local reports, the
government's NCP candidates are using
official vehicles with garage number
plates in Kekirawa and Kalawewa.
"If the government ministers could use
official vehicles with garage number
plates, the UNP too would follow suit as
all parliamentarians irrespective of
their portfolios are entitled to the
same privileges. If the government sets
a bad example, the same pattern can be
observed by others also," said UNP
legislator Ranjith Aluvihare.
He said that over 20 vehicles with
garage numbers were plying in and around
Kekirawa and all of them were government
vehicles. All departmental heads
including chairmen and directors are
travelling in these vehicles. Besides
vehicles, circuit bungalows were also
being occupied by UPFA supporters, he
Blaming the Kekirawa Police for
inaction, Aluvihare said that the UNP
has complained to the Elections
Commissioner against the abuse of public
property during the election campaign
and warned that the party would take
legal action to obtain a writ of
mandamus against the NCP Chief
I am undefeatable - Maheepala
Oozing with confidence and calling
himself an 'undefeatable' candidate is
government's Sabaragamuwa chief
ministerial aspirant Maheepala Herath.
While paying a glowing tribute to late
Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike for
appointing him as organiser for the
Rambukkana electorate way back in 1993,
Herath said that irrespective of the
mounted campaigns and colourful
candidates 'imported' from elsewhere, he
was undefeatable and would secure a
second term without a problem.
"After being appointed as the Rambukkana
organiser, I was given an opportunity to
show my ability at the 1994 general
election and that's when I got elected
to parliament. From then onwards I have
never failed in my attempts and would
not at the forthcoming Sabaragamuwa
Provincial Council election as well,"
According to Herath he was not involved
in any community service when he was
young but later seeing how the
underprivileged people in the
neighborhood were harassed by certain
local politicians, he wanted to enter
politics and serve the people who did
not have a voice.
"I was a government servant before
becoming a politician. When I felt that
the time was right for me to change my
job and do community service, I entered
politics. I never looked back since
then," he notes.
Recalling as to how he climbed up the
political ladder during the past 15
years Herath further said it was due to
his sheer commitment.
"First I was elected to parliament in
1994 and in 1998, I was appointed deputy
minister for housing, construction and
urban development by President Chandrika
Kumaratunga. And in 2000, she elevated
me to cabinet rank and gave me the rural
industrial development portfolio," added
According to Herath he was able to
initiate a special irrigation scheme for
the Mawanella, Kegalle, Rambukkana and
Aranayake electorates from his
decentralised budge - something he
considers a significant milestone in his
"As deputy for housing and construction,
I managed to initiate a 15,000 housing
project and was able to construct 8,574
houses," Herath explained.
Speaking on how he helped to bring the
traditional handicraft industry into
what it is now Herath said that it was
he who established handicraft villages
in the country.
"With the help of the then tourism
minister, the handicraft business
flourished and we managed to get
international recognition that our
traditional handicrafts richly
deserved," says Herath.
Education neglected in Sabaragamuwa
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Teachers and students of Sabaragamuwa, a
province consisting of the Ratnapura and
Kegalle Districts are hampered by a
severe lack of facilities. That has made
the province perform below potential
when it comes to education.
Apart from a few schools in the urban
areas, the schools scattered in the
rural areas are faced with many
drawbacks - the lack of basic
infrastructure facilities, lack of
teachers, great distances to travel,
children suffering from malnutrition due
to poverty and the time lost for studies
due to frequent natural disasters.
Although the lack of facilities plague
most of the rural schools, the schools
that lack most of the basic facilities
are located in the estate sector. Some
of the schools in the sector lack
electricity and clean drinking water.
Children have to walk for miles on
slippery slopes and cross waterways to
reach their schools that are indeed a
High level of poverty
Schools in Embilipitiya too are affected
largely due to the high level of poverty
prevalent in the area. These students
are also affected by malnutrition,
according to education authorities.
However, even if the parents manage to
send their children to school amidst
great difficulties, there is a lack of
teachers for key subjects like science,
math and English.
Schools in every education zone in the
province are faced with issues that need
the authorities' attention.
The Sabaragamuwa Province is divided
into seven education zones - Kegalle,
Mawanella, Dehiowita, Ratnapura,
Balangoda, Embilipitiya and Nivitigala.
The schools are categorised as Type 1A/B
(schools with science, arts and commerce
classes for A/Levels), Type 1C (schools
only arts and commerce classes for
A/Levels), Type 2 (schools that have
classes from grades 1 to 8) and Type 3
(schools with only primary classes). One
thousand one hundred schools in the
province have been categorised into
these types. (See box)
With a student population of 368,000, it
is indeed sad for Sabaragamuwa to find
only 22,000 teachers.
Sabaragamuwa Provincial Secretary,
Ceylon Teacher Services Union (CTSU), M.
J. Wijeratne told The Sunday Leader that
the provincial education sector was rife
with many issues from irregularities in
the appointment and transfer of
teachers, shortage of teachers, lack of
basic infrastructure facilities and even
Textbooks not received
According to Wijeratne, several schools
in the province are yet to receive
textbooks for Grades 7, 9 and 11 even
seven months into the year. Rural
schools are reported to be the most
affected in this regard.
"Some of the schools have not yet
received the science and math
textbooks," he said.
He also added that teachers have not
been provided with the guidelines on
covering the syllabus' as well.
Interestingly, Wijeratne said that the
authorities have requested the teachers
to download the guidelines from the
internet. "That too is a problem as only
three main schools in the Ratnapura
District have internet facilities," he
According to him, the delay in issuing
the guidelines to the teachers has
caused a problem in preparing the term
test papers. "The teachers don't know
how to form the test papers without the
help of the guidelines," he said.
The irregularities in teacher transfers
and appointments have also caused a
shortage of teachers in the province.
Wijeratne explained that the inter zonal
and inter district teacher transfers
that were to be completed by January 1
are still continuing amidst many
irregularities. He says that the
provincial education ministry was making
teacher transfers even after the
provincial council was dissolved.
"Most of the transfers are heavily
politicised and therefore the rule that
obligates teachers to serve in difficult
areas for a period of three years has
been violated. Teachers with political
backing working in difficult areas have
been given transfers to main schools,"
This, Wijeratne says, has led to a
shortage of teachers in most of the
schools in the interior areas of the
province. "There have been 2,500
graduates employed as teachers and they
need to be first sent to the difficult
areas, but it does not happen," he
He also noted that most of the
appointments of science and graduate
teachers are made to the main schools in
urban areas creating an excess in those
schools while the schools in the
difficult areas are being thus deprived.
The lack of teachers has had a severe
impact on the schools situated in the
estate sector in the province.
Wijeratne said that the estate sector
schools lacked close to 1,500-2,000
teachers for important subjects like
math, science, Tamil and English.
However, he noted that the authorities
instead of making 368 volunteer teachers
who are currently serving in the schools
permanent, are looking at employing
"There are many issues faced by the
teachers," he said.
The 2005/4 circular issued in May 2004
outlines the promotions that are to be
granted to the teachers. However,
Wijeratne says that no promotions have
been made in line with the circular and
the teachers in the province are to be
paid arrears amounting to Rs. 280
million. "Even the payment to be made to
teachers for leave not taken has not
been made and the arrears amount to Rs.
60 million," he said.
Distress loans minimal
Another injustice faced by the teachers
as pointed out by Wijeratne is the
minimal amount granted as distress loans
to the teachers in Sabaragamuwa. "The
distress loan is to be an amount
equivalent to a teacher's 10 months
salary but the amount allocated to each
teacher amounts to a mere Rs.50,000," he
Whatever the outcome of the forthcoming
Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council
election, authorities need to pay more
attention to the needs of the future
generation of the country. And there is
many a need to be addressed in the
education sector in this bountiful
Classification of schools
There are 1,100 schools in the
Sabaragamuwa Province from Type 1A/B to
Type 3. Listed below is the breakdown of
schools according to the respective
category in the province.
Type 1A/B schools - 49 (Sinhala) and 6
Type 1C - 170 (Sinhala) and 27 (Tamil)
Type 2 - 447 (Sinhala) and 48 (Tamil)
Type 3 - 239 (Sinhala) and 114 (Tamil)