Lanka Guru Sangamaya General Secretary Joseph Stalin today filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal seeking an order directing the Education Minister to make regulations on admissions to government schools, limiting the number of students in a grade 1 classroom to 35.
Education Minister Prof. G.L Pieris, Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Prof. K. Kapila C.K. Perera and Director of Education (National Schools) were named as respondents in the petition.
The Petitioner states that it has been well accepted that classroom settings of lower students per teacher enhance the quality of primary as well as secondary education.
The Petitioner states that in settings where a teacher has a lesser number of students to instil education, teachers can effectively communicate lessons to their students.
The Petitioner further states that in terms of the aforementioned report submitted to the United Nations, General Assembly it has been identified that various countries have as a matter of policy introduced laws that mandate a given average number of students per classroom, intending to ensure and maintain the quality of education.
The Petitioner further states that the said report highlights that in Finland the average student to teacher ratio is 20-25 and in Serbia it stands at 25, France maintains an average ratio of 22.7 and Qatar aims in policy to reduce its ratio down to 13-15 students per classroom.
He states that increasing the number of student admissions per classroom was causing much harm to the overall quality of education, in the case bearing no. SC/FR 232/2011, the Secretary to the Ministry of Education (then) gave an undertaking to the Supreme Court that the maximum number of students per classroom shall be 35 from 2016 onwards. The Petitioner further states that in this Supreme Court case the undertaking given by the Secretary to the Ministry of Education was entered as a settlement of Court.
The Petitioner states that on or around May 31, 2021, the notice on admissions for Government Schools for the year 2022 was issued by the Secretary to the Ministry of Education and published in newspapers and on the website of the Ministry of Education. The Petitioner further states that in terms of the said notice, the number of students in a classroom has been set for 40 students composing of 35 students based on interviews and a further 05 students allocated for children of members of the armed services.
Finally, the petitioner is seeking an order in the nature of a Writ of Mandamus directing the Educational Authorities to make regulations under and in terms of Section 37(1)(d) of the Education Ordinance No. 31 of 1939 (as amended) pertaining admissions to government schools, providing for the criteria and procedure for selection for admission to grade 1 and other grades of government schools.