COPA calls for infrastructure development plan for Govt. schools

The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) instructed the education authorities to implement an infrastructure development plan for Government schools.

The Committee chaired by Prof. Tissa Vitarana, met at the Parliament premises to examine the performance of Government schools where the number of students was relatively low.

The Committee drew the attention to take immediate action to solve the water and sanitation issues in these schools. The committee also said there was a resource disparity due to the lack of proper coordination for these schools.

It was revealed that there are 5161 schools in the country with less than 200 students and there are many problems regarding the quality of those schools. The Committee informed the Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Prof. Kapila Perera that a study should be conducted to look into the situation and that the relevant resource persons should participate on a voluntary basis.

The Committee pointed out the need to develop schools to change the attitude of parents towards schools in enrolling their children in schools.

The COPA also told the education authorities that the Code of Conduct on School Structure should be revised from time to time under the supervision of education administration experts. The Committee stated that the commencement, closure and regulation of schools should be done in accordance with these Guidelines on School Structure.

The Committee also drew the attention to the importance of overseeing the implementation of the transfer orders when transferring teachers and principals to unpopular schools. The Committee also pointed out the need to implement special programs to improve the examination results of these schools as the examination results of a school are a major factor in attracting students.

The Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Tissa Vitarana stated that all schools should have an education administration report and that it is appropriate to base that report when allocating funds under various projects.

It was revealed at the Committee that 93 schools were closed from 2013 to 2017 due to lack of students, the prevailing situation in the country and other reasons. In 2018 alone, 101 schools were closed.

It was revealed at the committee meeting that the shortage of teachers for the primary section as well as for certain subjects is another problem faced by these schools.

It was discussed at the committee that an amount of Rs.64,930 million had been allocated for the “Nearest School, Best School” project implemented during the previous Government period (for the period 2016-2020) and as at 31 December 2018, Rs. 31,234.77 million had been spent and resources had been given to schools without conducting a proper study. Although at least two acres of land is required to set up a new school, there are about 25 schools in the Nikaweratiya Education Zone alone which have less than 200 students who do not have that space, it was disclosed at the committee meeting. Members of Parliament B.Y.G Ratnasekera, Dr. Upul Galappaththi, Tissa Attanayake, Dr. Harini Amarasuriya and a number of Government officials were present at the meeting.

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