President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of teachers being present in schools during school hours for the education of the nation’s children. 

He warned that if this commitment is not upheld in the future and school children are deprived of their education as a result, necessary measures will be taken to designate the teaching profession as an essential service, the President’s Media Division reported.

President Wickremesinghe mentioned this during his visit to the Asgiri Maha Viharaya. The President received blessings from the Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Maha Nayaka Thero, the Chief Prelate of the Asgiriya Chapter. President Wickremesinghe also participated in a cordial conversation with the Maha Nayaka Thero.

The President emphasized that teachers and principals should be role models for children and prioritize their future. He highlighted the need to consider the impact on children when teachers participate in protests and strikes, stressing the importance of their ability to provide guidance and advice to students.

The President clarified that this crisis does not affect the entire teaching profession. He noted that information received indicates only certain politically aligned teachers are involved, attributing the damage to the entire profession to the actions of this specific group.

Highlighting that this situation is confined to Sinhalese schools, the President commended Tamil, Muslim, and private schools for ensuring uninterrupted education for children.

President Wickremesinghe also mentioned that reports have indicated school guards are sending the children home, and he has directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to enforce the law in response to these incidents.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the historic Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, this morning (27). During his visit, the President paid homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic and received blessings. Upon his arrival, he was warmly welcomed by the Chief Custodian, Diyawadana Nilame Nilanga Dela.

The Maha Sangha recited Seth Pirith and blessed the President as he participated in religious ceremonies at the Dalada Maligawa. During his visit, the President inspected statues of a king and a queen crafted by artist Atula Herath using Artificial Intelligence technology at the Dalada Maligawa premises.

While at the historic Sri Dalada Maligawa premises, the President engaged in cordial conversation with the people present, inquiring about their well-being.

The President’s first stop in Kandy was at the Malwatu Maha Vihara, where he received blessings from the Chief Prelate of the Malwathu Chapter, Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Mahanayaka Thera. The President inquired about the Chief Prelate’s well-being and held a brief discussion.

This is President Wickremesinghe’s first visit to the Chief Prelates following his special statement yesterday. During this visit, he also presented the Mahanayakas with the Greater Kandy Urban Development Plan. In response to the Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Mahanayaka Thera’s request to address the demands of protesting groups, the President assured that a formal system will be established to increase the salaries of government officials, ensuring no salary disparities prevail, starting in 2025.

The President highlighted that the Cabinet has focused on increasing the salaries of government officials and announced that a committee has been appointed to address this matter. He further commented:

“Upon assuming office as President, my priority was to visit here first. Following your guidance, we have stabilized the country and averted bankruptcy. Today, my foremost objective is to update you on these developments. We have successfully concluded two agreements and will proceed with foreign debt restructuring until 2032.

Teachers will be provided with the necessary means to increase their salaries again next year, and we have already communicated this to them. Before proceeding with the salary increments for teachers, we must also consider adjusting the salaries of other government officials. In 2022, teachers experienced salary increases ranging from LKR 3,000 to 17,000. On average, this equates to about six to seven thousand rupees. Additionally, this year they received an additional LKR 10,000 increase, resulting in total raises ranging from LKR 13,000 to 27,000 for teachers. Hence, the salaries of other government officials need to be deliberated upon accordingly.

Currently, Tamil and Muslim schools are operational, whereas only Sinhala schools engage in such trade union actions. This matter has garnered the Cabinet’s attention, leading to plans to implement a unified approach to increase government officials’ salaries starting from 2025. A committee has been tasked with studying and recommending appropriate measures in this regard.

Furthermore, under the Kandy city development plan, the administrative city is slated for relocation to Kundasale. Discussions are underway regarding the establishment of an Indian IIT University in Kandy, along with plans for a new building complex at Peradeniya University. Concurrently, initiatives such as the Aswasuma and Urumaya programs have been undertaken to provide relief to the population.”

Following this, the President proceeded to the Asgiri Maha Vihara and received blessings from the Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Mahanayaka Thera, the Chief Prelate of the Asgiriya Chapter. President Wickremesinghe also engaged in a cordial conversation with the Chief Prelate.

President Wickremesinghe further added:

“The reconstruction of this nation cannot proceed solely through traditional political divisions. If we continue to operate along these lines, economic recovery within two years will remain unattainable. Various factions from all parliamentary parties have supported us in bringing the country to its current state, while segments of each party have also moved into opposition. Had the entire parliament collaborated with the government, our nation could have achieved far better outcomes.

I have extended an invitation to all parliamentarians to join the government’s economic revitalization program. Globally, political landscapes are evolving; major parties in nations like England, America, and France are fragmenting. Hence, the fragmentation of Sri Lanka’s main parties comes as no surprise.

We have successfully negotiated foreign debt restructuring agreements. Furthermore, the government has prioritized salary increases for teachers and other government officials.

Despite the presence of more than four government officials in villages, their economic impact remains limited. Despite the existence of institutions related to coconut production, Sri Lanka’s coconut yield has been declining. In contrast, Kerala has seen an increase in coconut production and is rapidly transitioning to an export-oriented economy. Despite the operation of Mahaweli zone offices and the Irrigation Department, the yield from the Mahaweli zone is only around three metric tons per hectare.

Over the past 50 years, countries like India and China have significantly benefited economically from the plantation industry. Historically, Sri Lanka had an economy based on tea, coconut, and rubber during colonial times. Following the introduction of an open economy in 1977, the garment industry became crucial in preventing further economic decline.

Efforts are underway to develop Gadaladenia, Lankatilakaya, and Ambakke into a tourism zone, with infrastructure development initiatives in progress. Plans include establishing a Buddhist cultural centre to attract a large number of tourists to the Kandy area. Tourists visiting the historic Dalada Maligawa, Udawatta Kale, and Victoria Dam will often spend several days in the Kandy area.

Under the Greater Kandy Urban Development Plan, efforts are underway to transform the Bogambara Prison area into a hotel complex. Additionally, plans include relocating the city’s administrative functions to Kundasale and establishing a technology zone in Digana to foster advanced technological development.

Discussions have been initiated to complete the Colombo-Mirigama section of the Kandy-Colombo Expressway with assistance from China, and the Kurunegala-Kandy section with assistance from Japan. We seek the support of the Mahanayaka Theras to ensure the success of our initiative to modernize agriculture in rural areas.”

–PMD