Student turnout tops 50 percent at schools – education minister

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Student turnout in schools that reopened on Monday has risen to 51 percent amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, education minister Prof. G.L. Peiris told Parliament on Wednesday.

“The turnout of teachers has been recorded at 82 percent,” he said pointing out that the numbers have increased despite a poor turnout on Monday as schools reopened for Grades 6 to 13.

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa disputed claims that schools have received sufficient funds and equipment to disinfect schools and implement health guidelines.

The education ministry had said it allocated Rs 108.5 billion to be distributed among schools based on their student capacity to purchase the necessary equipment.

“The zonal education offices (that disburse funds among schools) have not received a single cent,” Premadasa pointed out.

He blamed the government for failing to implement online learning, that forced parents to purchase disinfection equipment at their cost to send their children to school.

“It is at the discretion of Principal’s and zonal education directors to decide on the reopening of schools. They can keep schools closed if the situation is risky,” the education minister pointed out.

Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said there were insufficient Public Health Inspectors (PHI) to assist in implementing health guidelines at schools.

“Principals of schools in the Kandy district have informed me that there is only one PHI for 60 schools in the region,” the opposition lawmaker claimed.

He urged the government to increase the number of PHI’s being deployed to schools.