The JVP was bubbling over with mirth and excitement in 2004 following its meteoric rise in parliamentary politics with 39 seats, but the bubble has manifestly burst for the outfit today. It has faced the worst ever electoral setback. The 18 seats it won in the NCP and Sabaragamuwa in 2004 have been reduced to three at Saturday`s PC polls. Worse, its slide down the slippery slope of politics is gathering momentum. The JVP leaders are putting on a bold face in public. But, their feigned sang-froid won`t take them anywhere.
When the JVP fails on the political front, it always gets into the subversive mode. There are already signs of a nascent subversive movement, if the JVP aggression during the past several months is any indication. Student protests and strikes are some of the light weapons that the JVP uses at the beginning. It took out its buffalo brigade in universities the other day and tried to march on the Temple Trees, knowing very well that it would lead to disaster. Like the much dreaded blood-thirsty reeri yaka, the JVP needs human blood for survival. Its plan went awry as the police were wise enough not to open fire on the protesting students, whose handlers wanted several dead bodies to turn Kollupitiya into a Tiananmen Square in time for the Aug. 23 PC polls.
The recent abortive general strike was also aimed at subverting the present political regime. The JVP`s demand for a massive pay hike was only a bait. State workers, however, did not walk into the JVP trap, as they saw through its stratagem and remembered how it had betrayed workers at the 1980 strike, from which it pulled out at the eleventh hour leaving strikers in the lurch. Workers did not stop at rejecting the JVP`s call for a strike they delivered a thundering slap on the JVP`s face at Saturday s PC elections, where the outfit polled only a fraction of the postal votes cast by public workers.
Unfortunately, school teachers, in spite of their education and intelligence, have enslaved themselves to the JVP. The outfit has successfully infiltrated that noble profession promising speedy solutions to problems like salary anomalies etc.
Teachers have, by contracting the JVP to solve their problems, acted just like (Marlowe`s) Doctor Faustus, who strikes a deal with Lucifer and obtains the services of a devil (Mephistopheles), promising his soul in return, only to regret his decision in the end. Faustus at least does so for the love of knowledge, dissatisfied with the limits of traditional forms of knowledge but our learned teachers have obtained a devil`s services to secure a mere pay hike! The danger of entering into pacts with Lucifer and the JVP is that one has no escape thereafter.
University students retained the `red devil` to solve their problems decades ago and today they are languishing in hellholes that their campuses have been turned into. Worse, the devil has gained a foothold on the school system with the help of teachers. Now, neither teachers nor schoolchildren will be safe.
Commissioner General of Examinations Anura Edirisinghe tells us that the teachers who are evaluating the GCE (A/L) answer scripts at present have come under threats from the JVP-led unions boycotting paper marking. He says his department will find it difficult to conduct about one hundred different examinations scheduled for this year as a result of the on-going trade union action and threats to teachers.
The JVP had been striving to bring the school system to this sorry pass for a long time and teachers gave the outfit an opportunity to achieve its sinister objective.
Thus, the education system has been plunged into a deep crisis from school admissions to university entrance and beyond! The JVP is in a position to wreak havoc on schools, catch students young, indoctrinate them and turn them into cannon fodder in a future insurgency! In the late 1980s, it may be recalled, the JVP shamelessly took out school children, some of them as young as five or six years, to take part in its demonstrations against the JRJ government. Many students perished in the uprising, as could be seen from the Suriya Kanda mass grave where over a dozen school children were found buried.
Governments are callous and politicians stupid and inconsiderate. They won`t give two hoots about teachers` or students` problems, as they love to have a nation of ignoramuses who will vote for them without asking questions. Let there be no argument about that fact.
The present government must solve teachers` problems forthwith without provoking them further. But, that governments and politicians behave in an asinine manner is no reason why teachers should do likewise.
On the other hand, before demanding their pound of flesh teachers must do their duty properly. There is irrefutable proof of dereliction of duty on their part. On May 14, 2007, in an editorial titled, Towards a nation of ignoramuses, quoting a survey conducted by the National Education Commission, we pointed out teachers` pathetic performance reflected in that of their pupils. We said: `Over 57 per cent of [GCE O/L] candidates have failed Mathematics with 51.65 per cent and 63.18 per cent of students crashing in Science and English respectively. Most of those who have passed the examination, it is said, have benefited from the kana shot answers or blind guesses in the MCQ papers!
Of those who have failed all the subjects, 4,128 are from the Colombo District with 3,404, 3,564, 704, 773, 2,039, 2056, 2,277 and 2,668 being reported from the Southern, Central, Northern, Eastern, North-Western, North-Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa Provinces respectively. In 40 Privena institutes, not a single student has passed the examination! All in all, 21,813 students have crashed in all the subjects! None of the students in nine schools in Colombo have qualified for GCE (A/L).
This kind of poor performance is something to be expected, though Sri Lanka boasts of a high literacy rate (91 per cent). It was only a few months ago that the NEC, in a survey conducted with the participation of 4,054 students from 70 schools representing all provinces, except the North and the East, revealed that 18 per cent of the sixth graders could not write at all. The NEC also found that 28 per cent of the tenth graders could not write legibly and only 35 cent of them could take down a passage dictated to them. Of the sixth graders concerned, only 41 per cent were at a satisfactory level of performance.`
In most schools, teachers have outsourced teaching to private tuition centres in all but name. The GCE (A/L) students are being made to attend school against their will. They reckon attending school an utter waste of time as they learn nothing useful there. The Education Department has had to make attendance mandatory for sitting that examination so as to cover up its failure and that of teachers by keeping classrooms filled.
So, teachers are duty bound at least to evaluate students` answer scripts without wreaking havoc on the education sector. (Is it that they want to outsource paper marking as well to the private tuition masters?)
Most of all, they must sever links with the red devil thirsting for chaos and young blood to keep itself going. And fast!