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President Wickremesinghe Leads Discussion on Educational Challenges for Muslim Schools in Colombo

April 03, Colombo (LNW): Under the guidance of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, a formal discussion addressing the educational hurdles encountered by Muslim schools in the Colombo region was convened at the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday.

The meeting, coordinated by the President’s Media Division, highlighted critical issues such as teacher shortages, insufficient infrastructure, challenges in teaching Islam in Sinhala, and the absence of schools in Muslim-majority areas.

Minister Ali Sabry and representatives of school principals and organizations briefed President Wickremesinghe on the specific challenges faced by Muslim schools in Colombo, prompting immediate action from the President. He directed officials from the Ministry of Education and the Urban Development Authority to investigate and report on the identified issues.

With approximately 40,000 students receiving education in the Sinhala medium, attention was drawn to the scarcity of teachers proficient in teaching Islam in Sinhala. Minister Sabry underscored the disparity between the number of Muslim schools in Colombo (around 19) compared to Kalutara (approximately 70), leading to higher dropout rates and associated social issues. President Wickremesinghe instructed the Ministry of Education to propose solutions to address this disparity.

Furthermore, the lack of Muslim schools in certain areas of Colombo was highlighted, hindering students’ access to education. President Wickremesinghe tasked Urban Development Authority officials with exploring options for relocating schools to suitable locations.

Efforts to address space shortages and facilitate donor-funded construction of new school buildings were also discussed, along with the imperative need to recruit approximately 200 additional teachers for Muslim schools in Colombo.

The President proposed initiating agriculture-related training programs for Advanced Level-passed students and announced plans to reconvene at the end of the month for further review of the challenges faced by Muslim schools.

The significant meeting was attended by key stakeholders including Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, Governor of the Western Province Air Marshall Roshan Gunathilaka, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Education Thilaka Jayasundara, provincial education officials, representatives from the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, school principals, members of school development committees, representatives of Muslim organizations, and educators.

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