Critical Thinking and “Value” of University Education – The Island


By KLL Wijeratne

Current teacher protests and business actions endangering the education and future of our young generation require objective analysis to determine if there are any real anomalies with respect to the respective salaries of principals and officers.

Let us examine the origin of the so-called salary issue affecting teachers, directors and members of the Administrative Service for Education. Prior to the establishment of the Teachers ‘Service on October 6, 1994, teachers’ salaries were based on their qualifications as qualified teachers, untrained teachers, graduates with honors, general diploma holders and diploma holders. As such, there were nearly 25 categories of teachers with five salary scales as follows:

This salary structure did not provide for a grading system or a promotion system for teachers. Therefore, the need for a teachers’ service with a grading system and a promotion program was considered reasonable and justifiable.

On September 27, 1994, then Minister of Education and Higher Education, Richard Pathirana, in a memorandum to Cabinet, requested approval to issue a statement on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day (October 6, 1994 ) announcing the creation of the Teachers’ Service as of 6/10/1994. The structure and salary scales of the proposed teachers’ service have also been included in this memorandum to Cabinet.

The observations of Chandrika Kumaratunga, Minister of Finance, Planning, Ethnic Affairs and National Integration, dated October 4, 1994, while accepting, in principle, the creation of a Teachers’ Service, noted that the proposed salary scales for principals and teacher trainers, if given, would create anomalies in the civil service salary structure. She further stressed the need to examine these proposed salary scales, in depth, and in comparison with other sectors of the public service in the light of labor standards and other conditions of service.

Teachers work 180 five-hour days (approximately 900 hours) per year. While other civil servants work 240 eight-hour days (approximately 1900 hours) per year. Given the complexity of creating new designations and assigning new pay scales, the task had to be referred back to the Wages and P&MS Commission for review and report before decisions were made.

Regardless of these observations, however, Cabinet Document 94/14/13 was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on September 28, 1994, for the establishment of the Sri Lanka Teachers’ Service with effect from October 6, 1994, and for the implementation implementation of the salary scales proposed for the Sri Lankan Teachers’ Service as of January 1, 1995.

In response to the above Cabinet decision, in her Cabinet Note No. BD / 356/86/34 (K) dated October 1994, Minister of Finance Chandrika Kumaratunga further requested Cabinet approval for modify the Cabinet decision of 9/28/94 (Article 40) to include the words “it was decided to refer the proposals to the Salary and Management Committee for a full review and report before implementing the proposals” as the last sentence after deleting the words “and to implement the salary scales proposed for the Sri Lanka Teachers Service as of 01.01.1995. “

It is important to note that despite the thoughtful observations submitted by Kumaratunga as Minister of Finance, on the issues of teachers’ salaries, the situation changed due to the presidential election of November 6, 1994. The presidential candidate of the UNP, Srima Dissanayake, posted a page notice (ref. Divina journal of October 31, 1994) promising to implement the proposed salary scale for teachers and to restructure the School Heads Service, the Teacher Trainers Service and the Education Administration Service.

The other presidential candidate, Kumaratunga, who is not to be outdone, had the government publish the notification in the Official Gazette 843/4 of 10/31/94 on the same date as the press notice on the subject issued by his rival presidential candidate Dissanayake detailing the following:

This is the only time a salary scale was published in the Gazette before establishing a Service! Significantly enough, it was the same one that was proposed to Cabinet and Kumaratunga had submitted his reservations and comments on previously.

It was not until April 3, 1995 that a notice from Gazette 855/3 was published establishing the Teachers’ Service duly giving the above salary scales.

Thus, we see that Chandrika Kumaratunga, as a presidential candidate rivaling the promises of her opponent Srima Dissanayake, has gone back to her well-considered earlier position on the issue of teacher salary structure.

Anomalies have arisen as a result of this arbitrary way of setting teachers’ salaries without due consideration of these services in the education sector and other parallel services.

The new salary scales for teachers have created serious anomalies with the salaries of the principals’ service. For example, the grade of principal I was placed on a much lower salary scale than that of a Cl.2 Gr.II teacher Subsequent legal action initiated by school principals before the Supreme Court (Supreme Court Cases Nos . 453/97, 454/97, 390/99, and 362/99) resulted in the Supreme Court ruling to rectify the anomaly by increasing the salaries of directors.

This created anomalies between the salaries of the Teacher Educators Service and the Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service (SLEAS), the latter having filed its complaint with the Supreme Court (Supreme Court Cases No: 305-307 / 03).

In 2006, the government published a new national salary policy with a salary structure and a promotion system taking into account all grades of the civil service, i.e. from the working class to the senior executive (circular of the l public administration 6/2006 of 25/4/2006). the anomalies between the directors’ service and SLEAS and therefore the Supreme Court proceedings were closed. It is therefore obvious that there are no anomalies between the Directors’ Service, SLEAS and the other services due to the new global and global salary structure and the promotion program adopted throughout the function. public. With the active consultation and participation of all union representatives, the government has decided to maintain a wage ratio between worker ranks and senior management ranks.

It is significant that the formulation of the new public sector salary structure introduced by Public Administration Circular 6/2006 has been a gigantic task and an unprecedented achievement so far.

Prior to 2006, there were 126 salary scales for civil servants in Sri Lanka. This figure was reduced to 37 salary scales with the government’s political decision to establish an agreed salary ratio of 1: 4.2 between the lowest grade in the civil service and the highest grade of secretary in a ministry. . This new revised salary structure was accompanied by various other important benefits for all officials, such as promotions from grade to grade without any framework restriction and non-stagnation to reach the maximum salary point.

Therefore, it is clear that all other salary reports such as the BC Perera recommendations of 1995 (cited by teachers) have now been canceled by the new salary structure for all categories of the civil service established in 2006. All attempting to falsify the current salary structure for all civil servants in favor of a particular group / category of teachers, principals, will inevitably open a Pandora’s box.

Indeed, it was mentioned by the Supreme Court FR n ° 362/99 that “it is not only legitimate, but sometimes essential to compare the salary scales of the different services in order to determine the salary scales (taking into account the required qualifications, knowledge, experience, skills, duties and responsibilities) and salary gaps.

In addition, the pensionable salary of all civil servants has been increased by more than 100% between 2016 and 2020. Currently, these civil servants enjoy the benefits of these salary increases which were granted in five installments. For example, the initial pensionable salary of a first year teacher, which was Rs. 21,750 in 2015 has now been increased to Rs. 44,950 in 2020. Likewise, it is essential to realize that now teachers, principals and other civil servants are getting pay increases of over 100% from the government. As a result, there will be a huge increase in the total pension bill.

Another demand from teachers’ unions is that their salaries be increased by declaring theirs as a “closed service”. This is already a closed service as teachers cannot be transferred to any other department or ministry. If the government declares it to be a closed service with salary increases for these services, it will lead to similar demands from other so-called closed services such as the health sector, postal services, railways, customs and taxes.

The hitherto balanced national salary structure across the public service will be upset by multiple demands for salary increases in all sectors.

(The writer, KLL Wijeratne, ret. Administrative Service of Sri Lanka, served as secretary of the Sri Lanka Wages and Staff Commission from 2006 to 2009 and chairman of the Salary and Staff Commission from 2016 to 2019)

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