Conduct most unbecoming | Daily News

Conduct most unbecoming

The Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) has decided to withdraw from the GCE Advanced Level examination evaluation (marking the answer scripts) process apparently to protest the recent taxes imposed by the Government on those drawing monthly salaries of over Rs. 100,000, according to a news report.

They have also given time for the Government to reconsider its decision since there is a time lag between the examination and marking of the answer scripts. The professors say they did not shy away from drawing up the A/L question papers in consideration of the students but would not mark the answer scripts if their demands are not met.

The decision of the professors is unprecedented and taken with callous disregard for the future of the students who, after all, are our next generation. How a band of academics who belong to the intelligentsia can take it out on the students for something that the Government is responsible for is beyond comprehension.

A wide segment in the professions is affected by the new tax. What will be the position if members of all professions decide to boycott work in this fashion until the tax is withdrawn? The action of the professors certainly is akin to blackmail.

They are holding the students to ransom to win some selfish demands, which is unthinkable and bordering on the juvenile. Are the learned professors seriously thinking that the Government is going to succumb to their threats? This act on the part of our academics is yet another low in the conduct of members of the teaching profession which recently had gone on to blacken the image of a once noble profession by their conduct and actions.

All this reflects the parlous state to which the teaching profession had descended. It is strange indeed how the Teacher Trade Unions who are very vocal about teachers’ rights and are doughty crusaders in winning the demands of teachers and principals can remain silent in the wake of the decision taken by university dons.

The authorities should wake up to the possibility of our student population being increasingly used as bargaining chips to win over demands that are outside the ambit of education as a whole. The A/L students are not responsible for the decisions taken by the Government and the university professors should be the first to realize this.

At this rate there is a real danger of all teachers and principals following the example of the professors and making their own demands holding their chargers to ransom. This type of conduct by that segment of adults who are dedicated to impart not only an education but also mould the characters of the young and guide them on the right path to make them worthy citizens will have a contrary effect with all ethics and values discarded by the emerging generation, making them lose all respect for members of the teaching profession.

True, the university professors like all the rest have their economic difficulties and are hard pressed by the present dire economic circumstances. However by no stretch of the imagination can one condone members of the teaching profession holding the students to ransom in this manner. What will be the professors’ next move if the Government fails to yield to their demands, which could certainly be the case?

Are they going to continue boycotting marking the answer scripts forever, blocking the next batch of students from entering universities? What will be the repercussions on the country’s education system? Are the good professors going to take the responsibility for the students’ future?

What we are witnessing could well be an extension of the indiscipline and unruly conduct teachers and principals have been engaged in recently such as staging protests, demonstrating on roads, holding placards and shouting slogans, so unbecoming of that segment whose main occupation should be the education of youth.

The education authorities should introduce strict standards for the recruitment of teachers. Their backgrounds should be subjected to an intense probe like they do when recruiting new hands to the Police. However qualified some may be academically, there may be individuals with character flaws and questionable tendencies which go against the grain of the teaching profession.

Teachers and principals, including university professors, only recently had their salaries almost doubled. There are various avenues to earn extra income for teachers and varsity dons such as conducting private tuition. Gone are the days when teachers, school principals and academics in the villages were much respected figures to whom people went for counsel. It is to the principal/teacher that the parents went to get their toddlers fed the first mouthful of rice or read the letters in the Sinhala or Tamil alphabet. In any event the Iskole Mahattaya (teacher) is today a forgotten and a dying breed after education became a money spinning industry.

No more are teachers being accorded the respect and honour that was once a tradition in society. The teachers themselves are largely to blame for this state of affairs. This conduct of the professors is yet another instance where teachers have added to their already rapidly swelling debit column.


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