(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday(17) requested that children be allowed to enjoy this environment without turning the pre-school into another school that provides competitive education.
The Prime Minister said this while participating in the ‘Guru Abhimani’ national ceremony to provide a monthly allowance of Rs. 2500 to pre-school teachers at the Temple Trees Thursday
Prof. GL Peiris, Minister of Education and Piyal Nishantha, State Minister of Women and Child Development, Pre-School and Primary Education, School Infrastructure and Education Services presented the National Policy on Early Childhood Education to the Prime Minister at the occasion.
The Prime Minister presented gifts to pre-school teachers symbolizing the ‘Guru Abhimani’ National Program.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa also symbolically inaugurated the grant of Rs. 2.5 million for the construction of the Saubhagya Pre-School to be established in every Grama Niladhari Division of the country and the grant of Rs. 600,000 for the infrastructure development of 1500 pre-schools.
These programs are implemented under the State Ministry of Women and Child Development, Pre-School and Primary Education, School Infrastructure and Education Services.
Speaking at the occasion, the Premier said after a child is born into the world, the first foundation for that child’s life apart from the parents is laid in the pre-school. Whether it is called a pre-school, day care center or early childhood development center, these institutions are very important areas in the field of education.
“In addition, we included the mechanism of running pre-schools in line with international standards in the vision of prosperity for the country. As soon as we came to power we even created a state ministry post for pre-schools for that,” he pointed out.
The Premier said it is also important to provide formal teacher training to pre-school teachers and expressed hope an opportunity to develop their knowledge up to the degree level at the university will be provided under the guidance Minister of Education Prof. GL Peiris.
“Although they seem to live happily laughing and singing with the children, the pre-school teachers live a very poor life. Many of them are not economically rich. Even so, some are working voluntarily. We also know that except for a handful, pre-school teachers do not receive a fixed salary.”
“Pre-schools have been closed at a time when the entire country is facing the corona epidemic. Most preschool teachers are maintained with little money from their children’s parents. This time the money is not received. In view of all this we are trying to bring this pre-school teacher to a professional level where they get a permanent salary.”
The premier pointed out that preschool teacher, who needs to run and play with the kids, is not a one confined to a desk or a chair and there will be a when they will not be able to run and jump. That’s when they become truly helpless as they do not receive a pension.
He said the government is not giving a salary but an allowance now and will set up a permanent monthly salary for a preschool teacher after formal training.
State Minister Piyal Nishantha has stated that more than 25,000 pre-school teachers are already eligible to receive this allowance. “But there are more pre-school teachers to receive this allowance. I hope that necessary steps will be taken to provide this allowance to those who qualify.”
“Our goal is to provide an exemplary standardized pre-school worth Rs. 2.5 million to every Grama Niladhari Division in the country. Not only that, we look at pre-schools separately. Steps will be taken to identify pre-schools with minimum facilities and develop them.
In view of the Covid situation, a program has been prepared to broadcast programs for those children on television. We want to get the children back to these teachers as soon as the epidemic is under control, the State Minister said.
Recently we discussed the possibility of reopening schools with the Minister of Education and the Secretary. The government has focused on reopening schools step by step as soon as the Ministry of Health makes recommendations in this regard.
“When preschool starts again, children like those flowers will come back to you. I would like to make a small request to you who are working for children. Do not make pre-school another school that offers competitive education. Let the children enjoy this environment. Let them live in their world. Listen to them. Perhaps there are children with special needs among these children. Take care of them too. I urge you to make pre-school a place where virtue, kindness and compassion are taught to those children,” the Premier requested.