University Teachers Protest in Sri Lanka last Year
Teachers in Sri Lanka are taking action in support of colleagues in higher education who are under attack by the government
The teachers - who are members of the Ceylon Teachers Service Union (CTSU) are refusing to help with the examining process. It appears that the government is attempting to use teachers to substitute for university teachers in marking higher level exams. The government is in dispute with the university staff over a long overdue pay claim.
The General Secretary of CTSU told the news website Lanka Truth,
that the fact that the government thought it could circumvent the lecturers' action by substituting school teachers was not only exploitative of teachers but showed 'the level of ignorance of the government and the education ministry about maintaining standards of the A/L examination evaluation process and the higher education sector.'
The CTSU is also taking action because of deterioration of standards in education which the CTSU says is putting the future of children in grave danger.
The Sri Lankan government has a history of victimising teachers who are in dispute. When they refused to mark exam papers in 2007, police arrested a number of teachers taking part in the action according to the website, http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jun2011/slun-j16.shtml
. The lowest paid university teachers in Sri Lanka receive only $190 a month. The government had promised to increase this significantly but has now reneged on its promise.
As in many countries in the Global South, schools in Sri Lanka are seriously under-funded and teachers and pupils working in often impossible conditions. According to one research report a significant number have not got the most basic teaching materials like a blackboard and sufficient furniture and in some cases the school buildings have not got a proper roof. These situations have of course been exacerbated in the North East of the country where many Tamil children were held in camps after the government's defeat of the Tamil struggle, where still many people are incarcerated and where there is little or no help to rebuild the schools and other infrastructure in the area (see previous posts).