The confusion and the controversy over admissions to Grade 1 of schools has taken a new turn with Presidential Advisor Vasudeva Nanayakkara now seeking intervention by the United Nations to prevent discrimination against poor children.
In a letter to the UN Childrenâ€™s Organisation UNICEF, Mr.Nanayakkara says:
â€œYou are the UN arm to protect children. The children of our country (Sri Lanka) are to be subjected to an unwarranted exercise of being tested for their abilities for admission to Year One in State schools. This implies that private schools can admit children without such a test. This is open discrimination against children who have no choice but seek admission to State schools. The truth about Year 1 admissions is that a large number of parents seek admission for their children far exceeding the available vacancies in the popular schools. Therefore, the elimination process has now provided that children have to be tested for their aptitude or whatever. Obviously this works to the advantage of the socially better-placed children in general. They are most likely the old boysâ€™/girlsâ€™ families and combined with the old boysâ€™/girlsâ€™ marks the Year 1 classes in popular schools will be filled with their children to the exclusion of others. Further, this opens the door for the admission authorities to conveniently choose the ones to their liking dependent on a multitude of reasons.
â€œThis exercise is a subtle form of torture against the children of that age. Please look deep into your covenants and make the position of the UN clear on this issue and thus make the government to act in the discharge of its lawful duty of governance.â€