Mohan Lal Grero, the UNP MP for Colombo District and the Chief Organizer for Ratmalana, crossed over to the Government Benches on Wednesday November 30th the day after he had marched against the Government in Hyde Park with his people as part of the UNP rally. In his speech, prior to voting with the Government he specifically said that he was 55 and he wanted to serve the people before he reached 60, at which age he felt he was not useful for constructive performance.
The implication is that by crossing over he would get a position, most likely that of Deputy Ministe in Education. On 2nd December 2011 the President announced his appointment as a monitoring MP for Education, much the way Duminda Silva was for Defense. This does not carry with it any teeth or power, so I wonder whether this is till the new Cabinet of Ministers are announced after a reshuffle post budget.
Mr Grero has pledged to devote his wealth and capabilities for education. He is the owner of the string of Lyceum International Schools, and he is also being investigated for under reporting student numbers in his schools and accordingly is being investigated by the Inland Revenue for paying too little taxes. Undoubtedly this investigation will be held in suspense now saving him some worry from unreasonable tax demands which he can then instead directly donate to Education.
I then question whether he is the best person for the job, on the assumption that he will be given either the post of the Minister of Education or the Deputy. It is a different cry from running an International School to one of running the State Education sector which has a different set of problems. I do believe his level of knowledge is adequate, but his overall view on Public Education is compromised by him being an owner of hugely successful private education establishment. Mr Bandula Gunewardene also had a personal interest in Education in that he was a lecturer and owner of a Tutory providing the shortfall of the education sector.
I am not pessimistic about the prospects but I sincerely hope that the importance of Free Education is truly appreciated. Public Education in the primary stage for all who want it is the need of the hour. This sector to be successful should not require the services of tuition classes. If we can get the teachers and the students motivated to learn that which is required for the future, then I believe we can truly say we have entered into the realm of a country where all our citizens have a basic knowledge, enough to take us to the next level. It is my hope that those who truly value Education and know its benefits can impart the true trick of learning to the kids all around the country whose whole future can benefit by more knowledge.