It is very surprising how different political parties react to the issue of Grade one admissions.Â
JHU, the so called ‘saviours’ of the Sinhalese Buddhists have so far taken absolutely no interest in supporting the old boys/girls from Buddhist schools like Ananda/Nalanda/Vishaka. Their silence is deafening, given the fact that if the current circular is to be used the ethnic ratios of the student populations of these schools would change drastically in favour of non-Sinhalese Buddhists.Â
JVP, a political party that normallyÂ ultra sensitive to all issues related to education, too is keeping mum. Nobody knows whichÂ party they support.Â
UNP,Â on the other hand is very vocal. Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesighe, for reasons not too apparent,Â has locked horns with the old boys.Â This is what LankaeNews reported yesterday:Â
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe requested today (22) from the Speaker of the parliament to act according to parliamentary privileges to stop summoning the Secretary of the Ministry of Education to the Supreme Court pertaining to a petition filed by one Jayasiri Iththapana. The Opposition Leader said that the petition that produced a distorted version of a statement made by him in the parliament on August 07 infringed his parliamentary privileges.
The Opposition Leader requested from the Speaker to advise to the Parliament Secretary to inform this matter to the Supreme Court to avoid a conflict between judiciary and legislature.
Pointing out a verdict by the former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, the Opposition Leader stated that the judiciary cannot question the statements made in the parliament.
The Opposition Leader said that the petitioner not only infringed parliamentary privileges but also embarrassed the parliament through a petition based on incorrect facts.
Iththapana points out in his petition that the Ministry of Education circular on Grade 1 admission disregarded certain guidelines given by the Supreme Court on July 31 and the circular amounted to contempt of court. The three-member Supreme Court panel of Judges that considered the petition yesterday summoned the Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Ariyarathna Hewage, for clarification today.
The Opposition Leader further said that the Secretary of the Ministry of Education compiled the new circular on the advice of the Minister and he is not guilty for any offence. The Opposition Leader in his statement on July 07 urged the government to draft a new act considering the guidelines specified by the Supreme Court. Since the Minister of Education pointed out the difficulty in compiling a new act, the parties in the parliament urged the Minister to produce a new circular and the Minister acted on it.
Mr. Wickramasinghe said that the past pupils’ associations were unaware of the proceedings of the parliament and they were in a deal to weaken the legislature. However, he said that all past pupils? associations should not be blamed for one individual’s fault.
Supporting the Opposition Leader’s argument, the Minister of Education Susil Prema Jayantha said that a statement would be made on this issue although a new circular would not be released. The Minister further said that a national policy will be prepared for Grade 1 admission in 2009.
Speaker W.J.M. Loku Bandara said the free education brought him to this position and he would take necessary action considering the Opposition Leader’s points.Â
JHU is facing bigger problems right now. It will take some time for them to come out of the shock of the BENZ episode.