The past week has seen public protests outside the presidential office and a social media campaign trending as “Gota Go Home” that calls on the President to resign.
Sri Lanka has run out of money to buy paper. As a result, the country’s Western province school education authorities have announced postponement of high school examinations.
The lack of paper is the latest manifestation of the economic crisis in the island nation.
Provincial Director of Education, Priyantha Srilal Nonis, has written to zonal directors of education saying that printers are finding it difficult to print school examination papers due to shortages and price increases in paper and other materials.
So, Nonis’ letter said, examinations for grades 9, 10 and 11 would need to be postponed to the next school term.
Sri Lanka is experiencing an economic crisis with severe dollar shortfalls impacting imports, including import of paper.
The decision has been roundly criticised. Joseph Stalin, the general secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union described the decision to postpone the examination as a price young people were paying for the government’s mismanagement of the economy.
“There are no text books either. The books should’ve been printed before January. They haven’t done their job,” he said.
Inflation, foreign exchange
Earlier, on Wednesday, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had addressed the nation over television, asking citizens to trust him in the face of galloping inflation and social turmoil engulfing the island nation as it faces a shortage of foreign exchange.
People are having to spend hours, and at times days, queuing up for gas, fuel and milk powder. Many have lost their jobs.
This came in response to public protests outside the presidential office since the beginning of the week and a social media campaign trending as “Gota Go Home” that calls on him to resign.
Rajapaksa said that he was fully aware of the plight of the people and sought to deflect blame for the crisis.
“This crisis was not created by me,” he said. “When those who contributed to the creation of this crisis are criticizing the government in front of the people today, I am attempting to immediately resolve this crisis and provide relief to the people.”
He added, “In a crisis situation like this, it is the responsibility of the politicians and intellectuals of a country to collectively find solutions to the issues.”
The government’s decision to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stirred a debate in the country.
News agency AsiaNews quoted Sumanasiri Liyanage, a senior Sri Lankan economist as saying, “A ration system for those with the lowest income would have been a sensible step.” Instead, “he put the whole weight of the situation on the shoulders of the people.
“He is responsible for not looking at the issues over the past two years, not prioritising them in time, and not taking the right precautions,” Liyanage told the news agency.