Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday lamented that thousands of students, who had got through the Grade V scholarship examination, with high marks, had been left kicking their heels for want of space in classrooms of popular schools already filled with children of those with political backing.
Minister Gunawardena said that principals of popular schools had overloaded Grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 under political pressure. Parents who failed to have their children admitted to Grade One classes at popular schools secure politicians help to facilitate their admission to Grades 2 or 3, he added.
According to report submitted to him by his ministry official including the Secretary, the minister said, it was impossible to admit at least one student under the Grade V scholarship scheme to Grade 6 at Dharmaraja College in Kandy and Sri Sumangala College in Panadura.
Minister Gunawardena said that the situation was worse at Royal, Ananda, Nalanda, Visakha and other popular schools in Colombo. They were unable to accommodate the number of children they are required to, he said.
The same situation existed in schools with primary classes, according to Minister Gunawardena. "There are already as many as 50 to 55 students in the Grade V classes of most of these schools.
Those who had gained high marks at the Grade V scholarship examination in rural areas had to be admitted to schools of their choice, the minister said. "I have informed President Mahinda Rajapaksa of the situation and he has promised to have a special discussion with a view to see justice it done."
Meanwhile, General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers Service Union (CTSU) Mahinda Jayasinghe said that they would take a legal action unless the deserving students were admitted to popular schools.
Convener of the Movement for Protecting Schools, Dhammika Alahapperuma, said that due to the problem, the ministry had yet to issue cut– off marks to admit students to popular schools.