Any person with common sense would not expect a government to provide an optimal education amidst a killer pandemic such as COVID-19, Education Minister Prof GL Peiris told Parliament yesterday.
The Minister said so responding to a series of questions by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, who accused the government of failing to distribute free school uniform material and textbooks among children attending state schools for the academic year 2021.
Prof Peiris said: “We are certain and fully convinced that none of the parents, teachers and children would believe the allegations of the Opposition. They understand why we have not been able to restore the country’s education system in the face of the threats of the pandemic. It is not the fault of the government but of the pandemic. People of this country do not share your views as they have an enormous appreciation of the government and its officials, who made it possible to reopen the schools and continue the education of children. People would not agree with you for taking an isolated incident of a school where a child could not get uniforms and trying to amplify it into a national issue. Do you know that 72 percent of children and 88 percent of teachers countrywide attend schools now? That is achieved by officials who work tirelessly to ensure that schools can start. Anyone with an iota of common sense in the world would not expect a government to perform its 100 percent amidst the pandemic.”
Opposition Leader Premadasa said that during his father’s presidency the free school uniform material for the children had been introduced and today most children had not yet been able to get their uniform material for the current academic year.
Premadasa said: “There are queues to purchase textbooks. Parents complain that they have to send their children without textbooks as the ministry has not been able to distribute them on time. You can inquire from government MPs who know the pulse of the grassroots whether there is a problem or not. Parents come to me and complain that uniforms are not given yet. You have told this House that the government would distribute the uniforms and textbooks.”
The Minister said that he had never said that the process of distributing text books and uniforms was finished. The distribution was ongoing and that many instances of queues, protests and demonstrations took place under any government.
(Source: The Island – By Saman Indrajith)