• Additional Rs. 30,000 million Funds to eliminate anomalies
• For the first time in history 7.51 percent of the total budget is for education
The representatives of Teachers’ and Principals’ Trade Unions expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the government for intervening to eliminate 25-year salary anomaly at a meeting held today (10th November) at Committee Room 01 of the Parliament where Hon. Basil Rajapaksa- Minister of Finance, announced that an additional Rs. 30,000 million will be spent from the forthcoming budget to eliminate the salary disparity of teachers and principals. Including this addition, the total allocation of the education sector now reaches to all time high 7.51 percent of the total budget in Sri Lanka, the finance minister added.
Mrs. Wasantha Handapangoda, the president of the Sri Lanka Public Education Services Association, handed over the resolution on teacher-principal salary anomaly agreed by the association to the Minister of Finance, Hon. Basil Rajapaksa.
At this difficult juncture faced by the country, recognizing the need of reasonable period to address the full wage disparity created quarter century ago (in 1997), the Teachers’ and Principals’ Union representatives said they were pleased that one-third of salary adjustments would be given at once as a starting point from this upcoming budget for year 2022.
Addressing the gathering Finance Minister Hon. Basil Rajapaksa said that
“A committee comprising Prof. G.L. Peiris, Hon. Gamini Lokuge, Dr. Bandula Gunawardane, Hon. Wimal Weerawansa, Hon. Udaya Gammanpila, Hon. Ramesh Pathirana and Hon. Lasantha Alagiyawanna was appointed at the Cabinet meeting on July 26. It was later limited to 4 people.
The committee made a recommendation. My observation was that basically all these demands were not a salary increase. This was merely to address pay gap of twenty-five years for teachers and principals. Our recommendation was that, it should be considered in the forthcoming budget so as not to create salary inequality in the entire public service.
In this regard, all political parties, including the Chief Incumbents of Malwathu and Asgiriya chapters, have called on me to resolve the issue of teachers and principals in this budget. The Hon. Prime Minister and especially His Excellency the President and the Minister of Education have recommended that this should definitely be resolved.
We have received a lot of support from the trade unions at this time. The only thing we wanted was to give children the education they deserve. At present all schools are open and school activities are carried out in accordance with health recommendations. So, we hope to allocate this recommended amount, although with great difficulty.
I urge the trade unions, including the Maha Sangha here, to see it as a just solution to the wage disparity that has been unresolved for twenty-five years.
In addition to the amount currently allocated with the approval of the Cabinet, Rs. 30,000 million will be allocated from our forthcoming budget to eliminate Teachers’ and Principals’ salary disparities. That is the secret I am telling you before the budget and the cabinet.
During the tenure of President Mahinda Rajapaksa some demanded to allocate 6 percent for education. Eventually all of their salaries were increased. All have forgotten about the 6 percent figure now.
However, we will allocate 7.51 percent of our total expenditure on education in this budget. It is reserved for the future of this country. The President, the Prime Minister and especially the Minister of Education have asked us to do this. For the first time in its history, more than 6 percent of the total budget is allocated on education.
Although the protesters forgot about it, our government including President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not forget it. We acknowledge that education is the biggest investment in this country. When it comes to health and education, we are on par with some developed countries in the world. We are at the top in South Asia.
We urge all these trade union representatives to increase investment as well as productivity. I request the support of all of you to the Ministry of Education and the Government to develop education. As the Minister of Finance, we can talk about demands that go beyond that”
Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena- Minister of Education, Prof. Kapila Perera- Secretary of Ministry of Education, Mr. Chaminda Kularatne-Additional Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr. Sumith Wijesinghe- Trade Union Director, Mrs. Wasantha Handapangoda- President of the Sri Lanka Public Education Services Association, Mr. Mahinda Jayasinghe-General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers Services Union, Mr. Sugeeshwara Wimalaratne- President of the Sri Lanka Professional Principals’ Association (SLPPA), Mr. Mohan Weerasinghe- President of the National Principals Association of Sri Lanka and other representatives of the Teachers’ and Principals’ Trade Unions were also present at the occasion.