Cabinet approval was given last week to grant permanent appointments to volunteer teachers, in the next four months.
Education Minister Susil Premajayantha told the Daily Mirror last week that these volunteer teachers would be appointed first as `teacher assistants`, to be later absorbed as permanent teachers, after completing their University Degree or the Diploma at the National Colleges of Education (NCE).
In addition, the Ministry has also decided to recruit over 10,000 graduates and NCE diploma holders as teachers, within the next three months.
`Then, we could solve the problem of teacher shortage in the country,` he said. He said these appointments would be made according to vacancies existing in schools.
`We will adopt a school-based selection criterion considering vacancies in respective schools. Accordingly, teachers will be posted leaving no room for possible teacher shortages in the future, due to transfers,` he said.
The Minister noted that, hereafter, they would select more candidates from the less privileged areas into the NCEs, to be assigned to schools in their respective residential areas, upon completion of the diploma.
Currently, there are 187,000 teachers in over 9000 schools in the country. Education officials say, there are teachers in excess of the required number at schools in urban areas, while schools in difficult areas such as Kebitigollewa, Kantale, Vavuniya and Trincomalee, suffer from severe teacher shortages.
Volunteer teachers working in less privileged schools, have agitated since the time of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, demanding permanency.