Sri Lanka shut down its universities for an indefinite period of time after teaching staff organized a strike, the education ministry said.
Minister of Higher Education S.B. Dissanayake ordered schools to be shutdown Tuesday but left the schools’ medical facilities open.
The Federation of University Teachers’ Association organized a strike starting on July 4, which brought the island nation’s higher education to a standstill. The union and teachers demand that Sri Lanka’s government allocate 6 percent of its gross-domestic product for the education sector and increase salaries.
The union has “suspected political motives” and is looking to “create a political crisis leading to regime change,” according to state-run media, citing the education ministry’s office.
The ministry said that it would consider granting nearly all of the union’s demands but said it could not agree on a 20 percent increase in teachers’ salaries, state media said.
Sri Lanka’s universities have been at the center of crises plaguing the country since the 1970s. Students’ problems helped cause the Tamil Tigers’ insurrection that led to decades of civil war that only ended several years ago.
But there may be some reprieve in the crisis as the union will hold key talks with the government on Friday to potentially end the strike, reported the Colombo Page publication.
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