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Published On:Friday, December 28, 2012
Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian

Education Minister has to resign


| by Hana Ibrahim



( December 28, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Ministry of Education is winding up the year 2012 with another examination debacle. This time it is to do with the GCE Ordinary Level Science examination paper, which was found leaked.


The government is already embroiled in a legal imbroglio in the case of the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice. On the one hand, its legal and constitutional validity is being questioned while gross inefficiencies and incompetence are in wide display on the other. Not a very pleasant place to dwell in.


In a year of examination leaks, mishaps and frauds, the grand finale seems to be a joke. But the joke is really not in the numerous disasters that have turned the Education and Examination Departments into places of ridicule and laughter, the real joke is that the man in charge is still holding the post. Once again, the government has proven that accountability is not a very common commodity in their market.

Issuing a press release, Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union stated that during a meeting attended by the Examinations Commissioner and Secretary to the Ministry of Education, the Education Minister had publicly admitted that 19 questions of the paper were leaked to some students prior to the examination, and questioned what guarantee the Education Minister give that other papers too, had not been leaked out?  He also charged that the minister was acting in an arbitrary manner in the face of the present crisis as he did during the 2011 GCE Advanced Level examination crisis.

It is a very grave indictment on the minister and the departments that come under him, Mahinda Jayasinghe, General Secretary of the Ceylon Teacher Service Union said in a separate statement that the entire education system was in a mess and the crisis in examinations and errors in results were frequent during the recent past. “Leaking of question papers prior to important examinations has become an open secret. The majority of the people are of the view that the leaking of question papers take place with the full knowledge of the government, the Education Minister and top officials of the ministry. People have not forgotten how the government hushed up the issue of the Grade Five Scholarship examination leak,” he pointed out  

Needless to say, calls for the minister to resign, which has been gathering momentum has reached a crescendo. If shame is in the make-up of the Minister Bandula Gunawardene, he should have resigned a long time ago.   

It’s not only the minister who should be answerable for the numerous leaks and frauds in the ministry. The Commissioner of Examinations along with the Secretary of the Ministry too need to be held accountable. Credibility of the whole system of examinations is at very low ebb. Children who study hard and their parents, who spend agonizing hours in anticipation of the results indicating success or failure, need to take very serious note of these repeated follies committed by government officials. The government remains utterly insensitive to these anguish and anxieties caused to the parents and their children.  

The government is already embroiled in a legal imbroglio in the case of the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice. On the one hand, its legal and constitutional validity is being questioned while gross inefficiencies and incompetence are in wide display on the other. Not a very pleasant place to dwell in.

In this senseless entanglement, the one person who has come to the rescue of the beleaguered minister is his own deputy. How could the Deputy Minister himself possibly dissociate from his boss? When the top starts rotting, the process seeps right down to the bottom, eating away the stem, the flesh and the marrow. The stench that it leaves behind becomes the legacy of the holder of office. That is exactly what is happening in the education sector in this country.

The President is silent, the rest of the Cabinet is silent and all other parliamentarians are silent and the only clatter emanates from the Trade Union sector. Where is the opposition in this country? When the people are neglected by the government and abandoned by the opposition, where do they look to for their solace?

The pace of the decline of the political culture that has been witnessed over the last couple of decades seems to have accelerated in the last two or three years. When racing cars get exempted from tariff and the essential food items are being taxed to the limit and when the masses are complaining and the leaders look the other way, what alternative does the common man have? The President and the Cabinet had better show a better way of governance.

(The writer is the editor of the Ceylon Today, a daily based in Colombo, where this piece was originally appeared)

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