24 May, 2019

Blog

6% of GDP For Education: Who Is Telling The Truth?

By Nirmal Ranjith  Dewasiri

Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri

Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) is asking the government to prioritise education and to invest in education. Towards this end FUTA has shown a concrete figure of measurement: the allocation on education as a percentage of GDP. This is a globally accepted measurement and the figure of 6% has been agreed to by the Sri Lankan government at many forums. FUTA has also shown that the government is not anywhere close to meeting this standard. Instead of engaging meaningfully with FUTA on this issue and trying to figure out a way of meeting its commitments, the government is spending its energy on trying to show not only that FUTA is wrong, but that these internationally accepted benchmarks which are used not only by Sri Lanka but all other countries are wrong! It is also bending over backwards to suggest that investing more in education is impossible and by implication, not necessary. This simply means, the government is saying it is NOT interested in education. The government is asking the public, the citizens of this country to take the responsibility for education. The government is stating over and over again, that it is simply not willing to allocate funds for education. It is saying this while it has shown its willingness to allocate funds for other, arguably less critical sectors. This is definitely not the mandate with which this government came into power. It is definitely not the legacy to which the constituent parties of this government can lay claim to. No other government has dared to so openly declare its intentions of divesting itself of the responsibility for education. Does this government want to be remembered as that which was responsible for the destruction of education in Sri Lanka?

Part I

FUTA’s response to the attempt by the government to suggest that currently the spending on education amounts to about 5% of GDP

In response to FUTA’s demand that the government increase its spending on education to 6% of the GDP, the government has recognised that there is a UNESCO recommendation to this effect and said that it already spends 5 % of the GDP on education, since expenditure borne by individuals and private parties should also be included in it.

FUTA is glad that the government has finally come out of a state of denial and has begun to address the issues FUTA has raised. However it is clear from the above statements of the government that it is trying deceive the public. These statements are factually incorrect and are designed to deliberately mislead the public.

The government position that UNESCO refers to the total amount spent nationally on education including expenditure of education borne by individuals and private parties, is incorrect. Hence, it is grossly misleading for the government to say that Sri Lanka is presently spending approximately five percent of its GDP for education. The globally accepted measure is to assess public (that means government) spending on education. This most definitely does NOT include private contributions.

This is because there is global recognition that governments must take primary responsibility for education. The Sri Lankan government by insisting on including individual and private expenditure on education as part of calculating public expenditure on education is essentially saying it is unable and unwilling to accept responsibility for education. This is a serious issues and a clear diversion from not only existing education policy but the stated policy of this government, and specifically the Mahinda Chinthanaya.

The government needs to clearly tell the public if this is its current position on education.

It is highly unlikely that the government is unaware of the actual details. In fact, figures for government education spending (1.9% of GDP and 8.1% of total expenditure) are included in the 2011 Central Bank annual report and the 2010 University Grants Commission annual report. These figures have not been calculated by FUTA but by the government itself! Thus we believe that the government position is aimed at deliberately misleading the public. Or is the government now saying that the statistics available in the Central Bank Annual Report and the University Grant Commissions Annual Report are wrong? If that is the case, this is an extremely serious issue since the public will no longer have faith in any figures presented by the government!

Comparison of government spending on education with government revenue.

The Government stressed that the FUTA demand to allocate six percent for education from government revenue, which only amounts to 14.3 percent of the GDP, is impractical and hilarious.

This statement is also factually incorrect and is aimed at deliberately misleading the public. First of all, particular budgetary allocations are expenditure items and hence should be compared against the total government expenditure and not against government revenue. That is the accepted practice and we find it not hilarious but quite tragic that the government seems to be unaware of this. Typically, expenditure always exceeds revenue due to high deficit created in budgeting. In 2010 government revenue (excluding grants) was 14.6% of GDP while the total government expenditure was 23.1% of GDP. In this context the question that FUTA asks is why Sri Lankacannot immediately allocate at least 2.9% of GDP for education and then delineate a road map to increase education spending up to the already committed value of 6% of GDP by 2015 as already agreed by the government at various international and regional forums?

We suspect that the reasons could be either that the government priority on education is low or that its fiscal management policies are wrong. We also suspect that the government says one thing to the international community and another thing locally. Or else, that within the government there is disagreement on policy since the various statements the government makes are contradictory. Or even that, what the government says and what the government does are completely different. By holding the government to account based on its own stated policies and its own published figures, FUTA has exposed the lies and duplicities of this government.

The statement by the government that all countries that allocate more than 6% of GDP for education either charge fees for education or have high poverty levels is wrong.

Government has stated that almost all the countries which have allocated more than six percent of their GDPs for education either charge fees for education or have high poverty levels. This statement is incorrect.

If you look at the data in the following table where we have listed countries spending more than 6% for education, it becomes clear that the government is purposely trying to mislead the public. Many of the countries listed cannot be categorised poor by any stretch of imagination. Nor do they all charge fees for education.

The government tries to portray that Sri Lankais the only country that provides free education. This is factually incorrect. In many developed and middle and upper-middle income countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Morocco, Norway, Peru, Scotland, and Sweden even University education is free.

University per student funding has decreased.

Government has said that the allocation for universities has been increased over the past years. The amount which was Rs. 5000 million in 2000 was increased to Rs. 10,200 million in 2005, Rs. 19,600 million in 2010 and Rs. 25,000 million in 2012.

The above statement does not address the level of per student government funding and is hence misleading. Allocation for universities have increased but at the same time student enrolment has increased as well. Thus what really needs to be compared is the average per student cost. The graph below shows that this measure (per capita expenditure on students) has steadily decreased over the past few years.

Part II

6% of GDP for Education: the Rationale and the Government’s Dilemma

Introduction

Government (public) education spending reflects government policy on education. There are several international indicators to assess and monitor government funding for education. Compliance of this must be assessed and monitored with appropriate indicators. According to the World Bank, the following are among the indicators have been identified as World Development Indicators for education: [http://data.worldbank.org/indicator]

  • Public spending on education, total (% of GDP)
  • Public spending on education, total (% of government expenditure)

A comparison of Sri Lankan public spending indicators with other countries using data available for the year closest to 2009 (either 2007 or 2008) indicates the following. Of the above indicators when considering public spending on education as a % of government spending Sri Lanka (with 8.08% of government spending) ranks 129th out of 132 countries for which the data is available for the year 2009 or the closest to 2009 (either 2007 or 2008). OnlyGeorgia,Lebanon andMonaco spend less thanSri Lanka. The world average is 15.58%, Among Upper Middle income countries it is 16.20% and among South Asian countries it is 12.63%.

If public spending on education as a % of the GDP is taken of the 151 countries for which the data is available for the year 2009 or the closest to 2009 (either 2007 or 2008) Sri Lanka is ranked 145th with 2.06%. Brunei, Darussalam, Lebanon, Zambia, Central African Republic, Monaco and the United Arab Emirates lag behind Sri Lanka. The world average is 4.6%. Among Lower Middle income countries it is 4.03% and among South Asian countries it is 2.46%. Considering that Sri Lanka currently allocates only 1.9% of GDP on education, our ranking must have fallen even further. Sri Lanka along with other countries has committed to reaching the 6% benchmark by 2015. They should immediately ensure that their spending on education is at least on par with public spending on education in regional and other comparable countries. This would reflect Sri Lanka’s commitment to public education and signal a reversal from the decline in spending since 2005.

The government rationalises its low expenditure on education by claiming that countries that spend more on education are either where education is so poor that they need to invest more in education or where the countries are economically stronger. However, this is not a very rational argument:

 

  • Sri Lanka’s overall government expenditure as a percentage of GDP is comparable to the averages of South Asian countries and lower middle-income countries.
  • Sri Lanka’s government revenue as a percentage of GDP is also comparable to the averages of lower middle-income countries and is in fact, higher than the averages of other South Asian countries.

This means, that there is no significant difference in either government revenue or government expenditure as a percentage of GDP betweenSri Lankaand other South Asian countries and lower middle-income countries.

The next logical question to be asked then has to be why is Sri Lanka’s public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP, less than the average for South Asian countries and lower middle-income countries? Is it because education is a low priority for the government? Or is it because of poor fiscal management policy?

The Sri Lankan government must provide the public with answers to these questions! Distracting the public by misinformation and deliberate lies suggests that the government is unwilling or unable to answer these very important questions.

The importance of government spending on public education

In many countries in the region, the education sector claims the largest share of public expenditure devoted to social welfare. This is because most governments acknowledge that sectors such as education must be the primary responsibility of the state. This is to ensure both the quality of education as well as equity in accessing education. This is also why there are globally accepted benchmarks for public expenditure on education and standard indicators for measuring a country’s public expenditure on education.

Sri Lanka falls way below in both indices described above when compared to other South Asian countries and Lower Middle-income countries. Alarmingly, the trend over the past few years has been for these indices to show a decline despite the fact that Sri Lankahas committed itself, at regional international forums, to increase public spending on education to reach 6% of GDP by the year 2015. This suggests that over the past several years, successive governments and for this government in particular, education has been a low priority.

Sri Lanka compared to other countries:

Where does Sri Lanka stand compared to other countries in public education spending?

Government education spending in Sri Lanka as a percentage of GDP was 1.9% in 2010. The average investment among South Asian countries is 2.9% of GDP whereas the average among Sub-Saharan African developing countries is 4.7%. The average investment among low and middle-income countries is 4.6% (Sri Lanka is now regarded as a middle income country).

Education spending in Sri Lanka as a percentage of government expenditure on education was 8.1% in 2010. For the same measure the average among South Asian countries is about 15% whereas the average among Sub-Saharan African developing countries is 19%. The average among low and middle-income countries is about 18%.

Is government spending on education low because of low revenue and expenditure?

In Sri Lanka the overall government expenditure as a percentage of GDP was 23.1% in 2010. This is howSri Lanka compares with other regions:

  • The average among South Asian countries is 16%
  • The average for Sub-Saharan African developing countries is around 24%.
  • The average among lower middle-income countries is around 20%.

This shows the although Sri Lanka’s overall government expenditure as a percentage of GDP is comparable to the average of other countries, its expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP is far lower.

In Sri Lanka, government revenue (excluding grants) as a percentage of GDP was 14.6% in 2010. In comparison:

  • The average government revenue among South Asian countries is about 12%
  • The average for Sub-Saharan African developing countries it is around 24%.
  • The average among lower middle-income countries is about 16%
  • The average among low and middle-income countries is around 19%.

This shows that the Sri Lankan government’s revenue as a percentage of GDP is not significantly different to other regional countries and countries of similar economic levels.

But, in Sri Lanka, government spending on education as a percentage of government revenue was 14.6% in 2010. This is significantly less than the average of lower middle-income countries and South Asian countries where this value is around 23%.

This means, that whatever way we look at it, that is:

  • As a percentage of GDP,
  • As a percentage of total government expenditure,
  • As a percentage of government revenue,

Sri Lanka spends less than other countries on education. For a country that boasts of its educational achievements, this is a shocking state of affairs. What is particularly significant is that this was not the situation in the past, but that our investment in education has been rapidly declining in recent years. While we are happy to reap the benefits of our past policies, we are selfishly and irresponsibly not ensuring that future generations will reap the same benefits. Investment in education does not produce instant results; investment in education is an investment in the future; an investment in future generations. We can only conclude from the current trends in education spending, that the government is neither interested in the future nor is it interested in future generations. Certainly, it is not interested in ensuring education for future generations.

Of course, we are also already facing the consequences of this policy. Very soon, if things do not get better, if we do not halt the decline in public expenditure on education, things can only get worse.

Table 1: Country Comparison Based on World Bank Data available for the nearest year to 2010


Finally, what is important for us is to understand what all of these facts, figures, arguments and counter arguments mean. Very simply, FUTA is asking the government to prioritise education and to invest in education. As one of the measures of this prioritization and investment, FUTA has shown a concrete figure of measurement: the allocation on education as a percentage of GDP. This is a globally accepted measurement and the figure of 6% has been agreed to by the Sri Lankan government at many forums. FUTA has also shown through many means (analyzing government revenue as well as expenditure) that the government is not anywhere close to meeting this standard.What does all of this mean?

What has been the government’s response to this? Instead of engaging meaningfully with FUTA on this issue and trying to figure out a way of meetings its commitments, the government is spending its energy on trying to show not only that FUTA is wrong, but that these internationally accepted benchmarks which are used not only bySri Lankabut all other countries are wrong! It is also bending over backwards to suggest that investing more in education is impossible and by implication, not necessary. What does this mean? Very simply, the government is saying it is NOT interested in education. The government is asking the public, the citizens of this country to take the responsibility for education. The government is stating over and over again, that it is simply not willing to allocate funds for education. It is saying this while it has shown its willingness to allocate funds for other, arguably less critical sectors.

Is this the government position? Because, this is definitely not the mandate with which this government came into power. It is definitely not the legacy to which the constituent parties of this government can lay claim to. No other government has dared to so openly declare its intentions of divesting itself of the responsibility for education.

Does this government want to be remembered as that which was responsible for the destruction of education in Sri Lanka?

References

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator

Role of Public Expenditure on the Provision of Education and Health, Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2003, (http://www.unescap.org/pdd/publications/survey2003/Survey03-12.pdf)

Central Bank Annual Report, 2011

Universities Grants Commission Annual Report, 2010

World Bank Report, `Transforming School Education in Sri Lanka: From Cut Stones to Polished Jewels’, 2011

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Dr. N. R. Dewasiri,

President/FUTA

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Latest comments

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    This regime is arrogant bully, cannot be reasoned with truth.

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      “The government is asking the public, the citizens of this country to take the responsibility for education” How dare they!

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    Excellent piece that lays out the facts and figures based on research to expose the Rajapakse regime’s lies about education and national development! The Dons must persist in the struggle to EDUCATE the people on the need for a different sort of development model for Lanka.
    The REAL WEALTH OF NATIONS according the the UNDP Human Development Report 10 is in a country’s: 1) manufacturing base, 2) Human resources, 3) environmental assets.
    The fact it that Rajapaske bros have been borrowing and in-debting future generations in Lanka for white elephant infrastructure projects in Hambantota, rather than invest in education and the future of the country. The regime is only spending in tourism services and militarization, while destroying the environment and human resources, when it would have been better to spend those funds on education and human resource development given that institutions are crumbling due to lack of expertise and cronyism. Now the spoiled Brat Namal Rajapakse and his uneducated father and uncles are planning to fill up the sea and build a Formula One race track in Colombo’s Galle Face – car racing is the Rajapakse development priority. There is a singularly uneducated Cabinet of goons, crooks, fools and geriatrics led by Rajapakse and his uneducated brothers running Lanka today. NO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT had been done on the plan to fill the sea near Galle Face although already the erosion on the south coast is tremendous.
    The country and its institutions are a mess due to lack of educated and qualified personnel and the brain drain compounds! The DOns must continue their struggle and lead to way towards a new order and human security in Lanka!

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      Rajapakse is ignoring that need to invest in education for human resource and expertise development and knowledge production and rather buying military helicopters from Russia as pay back for Russia’s support at the UN Security Council on war crimes accusations – rather than spend on education sector development which is a national priority.
      The regime is spending vast sums on militarizing Lanka, 4 years after war, with no visible security threat except the ruling party politicians who are engaged in all sorts of crime. What a joke the regime’s so-called “economic development” is! But what do you expect when the so-called minister of economic development is a high school drop out who worked as a petrol pump attendant in California!

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    This analysis is true. Sri Lanka expenditure on education goes down. This GDP allocation is not only problem. Chandrika Kumaranathunga goverment has done great job for heigher education. It that time there was war and she managed to built 5 new universities.After 3 years end of war, mahinda Rajepakse government failed to open single state university under UGC. He has open one university for Vocational education and it charge money from student. Furture, he is going to build one business school (National School of Business Management) under youth ministry. It is also charge money from student. There is another motivation of these projects. Give a opertunity to get prestige Sri Lankan degree without A/L quatification. Further, there are companies offer degree to students in Sri Lanka. These institutions do not have minimum physical or human resources. Compared to these companies, Malabe campus has adequate facilities. Sri Lanka needs goverment body (such as UGC) to monitor all degree offering institutions. For this, there is law and it should be passed by the parliment. There are non state universities in the world. Nothing wrong Sri Lanka has non-state university. Requirement is proper law and monitoring body for all degree offerinf institutions. If any instituion does not have minimum standard such a institution should be band. It will protect the quality of heigher education in Sri Lanka.

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    University teachers also has responsible for uplift university standard. Sri Lankan universities do not have good university rank in the world. Research and publication in indexed journals (such as SCI or SSCI index, Australian/UK journal rankings) are most important. Most of the university teachers do not do research. Most of professors does not have single paper in SCI or SSCI indexed journals. How does Sri Lanka improve their unversity rank (such as Times University ranking or QS university Rankings)? Sri Lanka university teachers are thinking, Sri Lanka has well establish reputation for their university education. In the past, there was good reputation. But, it is not present. Research publications are important not only university, but also for the country. It carries Sri Lankan political, social, economics and scientific standard to the world. Unfortunately, most university teachers doing business, giving tutions or working private degree offering places without doing research. We all know university teachers do not have attendance/finger mark system. They have very limited number of lectures per week. What do they most of time?

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      Profs are so badly paid unlike in other countries where research is promoted in grants and high salaries that they are doing consultancies and tuition to make ends meet.; If they were better paid and there was investment in research and development the ratings would rise. But the current education minister cannot speak to lines of English the language of international scientific research has not go a clue about how to improve research and knowledge generation even though Mahinda chintanaya talks about knowledge hubs! In fact Lanka today is known as a sex tourism hub for sexual violence against women and children rather than a knowledge hub!

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        That’s funny. A while ago British education minister was blind, wouldn’t be surprised even if he wasn’t educated to high school level. He had to resign from the cabinet when he was caught in a sex scandal. But the British education does not depend on his qualifications or private life.How many education ministers speak English in the world? What kind of a qualification is that for a politician? Karunasena Kodituwakku was also an education minister but he faked a doctorate for decades. The current minister may not be the right person for the job but to criticise him for his English is just the kind of academic mindset we have in the country. The only way to stir up any enthusiasm among most of our lecturers is to pay them as if we are the United States. The 6% story is the most hilarious subject they added to their selfish demands. The table above itself is a laugh. For example, if you take the percentages from their GDP per capita for certain countries, the education per capita budget in USD are, Nepal 61, SL 108, India 118, pakistan 81.2, Bangladesh 40.8. Basically we are only just second to India and way better than any of the above countries. Of course there are problems, but not a bunch of selfish greedy people but a group who could critically think will have to plan and execute a better programme for that.

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          this is copied from the futa facebook group

          India’s GDP is $1.85 Trillion!!!! Someone please do the math….75850000 USD….Rs. 9860500000…..and India is ONLy the 86th out of 136 Nations when it come to education spending as a % of GDP!!!!!! ….remember we were ONCE one of the best…..

          Sp Rupert whoeer you are…. and I am sure you will get this message…. is a BIG FAT LIER!!!!! 118 USD MY FOOT.

          https://www.facebook.com/groups/futasl/

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      I feel sorry for the level of knowledge you have, you better go to the profiles of the staff members in each of the faculties and see what they have done in their past and think why they do not publish like before. For your information even in University of Peradeniya there is no guarantee of 24hr X 7 electricity supply ( no back up generators), so how can the faculty members even run an experiment. No building to set up a new lab even a member get an international grant, no money to refurbish the laboratories… etc.. So that’s why they ask 6% GDP…… first give them the needed facilities and then question the work………

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        To Kodithuwakku!
        My field is Management. Then, I visited to University of Peradeniya, department of Management. This is path for staff profile (http://www.pdn.ac.lk/arts//mgt/astaff.html). Almost all faculty members didn’t publish a paper (Special journals which are widely accepted rankings)in a reputed journal at Asian level.Then, I visited to Faculty of Management, University of Sri Jaywerdenepura and this faculty is most recognized/best one in Sri Lanka. I visited two departments namely Accounting and Finance and looked at 40 members profiles. These profiles include their education and research interest. No publication of papers reported. I know professors/ senior lectures in this faculties. Most of them do not have single paper in SSCI, UK-ABS or Australian Business Schools Deans’ journals rankings). Social Science Research such as capital market, Accounting Standard or Corporate governance are not costly. However, these academics may not good at research.

        Doing and publication researches need special skills and Sri Lankan universities do not have any plan to attract people who have proven skills on research (already publish papers) and PhD-holders and always recruit fresh graduate with first class or second upper class. Most of management faculties’ undergraduate degrees don’t have compulsory research component. They are lack of potentials. UGC is responsible for this kind of crises. When you see profile of foreign university business schools’ staff, there are many academics have engineering or science first degrees. However, their masters and PhDs are relavent for their positions. The scheme of recruitment prevent to attract people who has did and published research. Universities does not have funds to establish research centers. To establish management and social science research centers are not very costly. However, these research centers should recruit permanent researchers and it is expensive. Further, UGC and Ministry of higher education should be introduce innovative mechanism for uplift research publications. Research publications are very important for university rankings. Finally, I request from the academics don’t get blood boiling. You can try to make correct UGC. Because, UGC consists former or current academics of Sri Lankan universities. If UGC does not take correct action, Sri Lanka universities cannot attract good competence staff and some of skilled staff members (Specially Medicine, Science and Engineering) may go to work in foreign countries. Mideast, South East Asian countries, China want to attract talented university academics in addition to the developed countries.

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          Do consider science based faculties (Engineering, Medicine, Dental, Science)and and you can find lot of publications published in SCC. Sri Lankan academics with lots of difficulties find a placement in reputed universities and do their PG studies and publish findings in reputed journals. Once they come back to Sri Lanka there is no proper system to fund Srilankan researches. Quality research need good laboratory facilities and standard equipments and the maintainance of them, also personnel, travelling and subsistance also costly for researchers. Though some researchers spend from their own pocket it’s not easy for all academics with their monthly budjet. In SL only NSF and NSC provide local funds but highly competitive and only very few will get the opportunity. It’s much easier to get internatinal funds rather than the local research funds according my 15yrs experience in research. At present very few internatinal agencies also provide funds. University research grants are there for small projects as the funds are not adeqaute for all staff and project proposals are funded according to priority.
          Although the senior lecturers are advertised there are no qualified people with internatinal publication applied to university. Most of the applicants are with basic degrees and once they get a chance to do their PG studies abroad they do not rejoin the university. UGC can calculate how many university lecturers have given up their carriers after PG studies in abroad. The less facilities/funds in universities is the main reason for the reduction of the research publications from Uni. academics. That’s why the higher allocation is essential for higher education too. Not only the research studies, undergraduate teaching also run by the universities with minimum or less facilities. The chemicals, reagents and equaipments are so costly and the government allocations are not at all adeqaute to provide undergraduate facilities. Though the number of students are increased for each degrees fund allocations are not proportianately increased. Instead of doing individual practicals/experiments, only several demonstrations and/ group activities are done with reduced funds. As a result the quality of our graduates also goes down, it’s not because that university academics do not know how to teach. True conducting lectures only like in Arts faculties and Management faculties etc would be less costly. For the dreamed so called “Knowledge hub in Asia” they also should do research and self studying with Libraries using electronic facilties which would be costly. Authorities should think about these aspects wisely…..

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    University teachers have also responsible for uplifting university standard. Sri Lankan universities do not have good university rank in the world. Research and publication of research in indexed journals (such as SCI or SSCI index, Australian/UK journal rankings) are most important and largely contribute for university rank. Most of the university teachers do not do research and no publications. Most of professors do not have a single paper in SCI or SSCI indexed journals. How do Sri Lankan universities improve their world/Asian rankings (such as Times University ranking or QS university Rankings)? Sri Lanka university teachers are thinking, still Sri Lanka has well established reputation for their university education. In the past, there was good reputation. But, it is not at present. Research publications are important not only university, but also for the country. It carries Sri Lankan political, social, economics and scientific standard to the world. Unfortunately, most university teachers are doing business, giving tutions or working private degree offering places without doing research. We all know university teachers do not have attendance/finger mark system. They have very limited number of lectures per week.SB has tried to introduce new act for regulate degree offeing institution. But, FUTA against for it. Why? It privents their working at private degree offeing places.

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      Dear Tharuka,
      Answer to your question lies in your response.

      First, I should mention that all what you say is not true. With all difficulties and deficiencies there are still many excellent researchers in SL.

      As you say, the situation has been great in the past. At the same time the salries and facilities has also been better. For example, salaries of academics was in par with the central bank and higher than parliement members. Today, there salaries are almost 30% compared to central bank and much less than MPs, and your know the other attached perks and previlages the MPs and politicians have. With 5 years in parliement they get 90% of the salary as a lifetime pension. But, you know academics dont even have a good pension scheme.
      Without believing in government propaganda, just step into a university and see how many vacancies exists, especially in science based faculties. Universities find extremely difficult to recruit best graduates. They either leave sri lanka or join other private institutes/organizations.
      Even for those who are remaining in the country, if the salries are not attractive and having no pension, they are invariably geared to find avenues of extra income, like tution, private practice etc.So can they concentrate on research.
      And also, please know that in the ports authority, Electricty board, water board, petrolium corporation, and central bank executive grade officers salary (starting salary) is much higher than that of a probationary lecturer.

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        To Izaawa and others

        Izaawa said that Universities find extremely difficult to recruit best graduates and they either leave sri lanka or join other private institutes/organizations. First, we know some of first class degreeholders are not good for teaching or research. They suit for working in industry. Second, we also know some of professors give favourations for recuiting their relatives, friends’ children and students who go shopping to them. Sri Lankan university recuitment scheme should be changed and give more opertunities for people who have PhD and research background. we know there are some instance, PhD holders ignored (eg. Ravaya new paper reported 1 or 2 years a go Peradeniya university art faculty; More recently Prof Carlo Fonseka wrote a article to The Island bout ignorance of Prof Hoope by Jaffna U).

        You want to emphasis that the situation has been great in the past, because, the salries and facilities had also been better at that time. Actually, salary is not better. Some professors has done good researches and published papers in well reputed journals. Some of these prof left the countries because they did not get recognition internally from the universities, had to face problems. We know supperiors and collegue do not like to work with superior lalent in Sri Lanka. however, newly emmerging countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Tailand and Malaysia have attrated these university teachers. On the other hand, most of students went to PhD for abroad through foreign scholarship or self financing, are like to work in Sri Lanka. But, there are some obstacals,some of them do not have first degree. They have done CIMA or CFA, then master and PhD in US, UK, Auz, Japan or China. I know some of them are working in Singapore, UAE, Malysia other than US, UK, Auz, Japan or China.

        Main problem is Sri Lankan universities follow old rules and procedures and these old rules and procedures borrowed from UK. Actually, UK does not follow these right now. Sri Lankan gvernment understand the new treend of education. SLIIT has established in few years ago. It takes students who passed A/L in any stream. The Sri Lanka Vocational University was open recently and it takes students without A/L and offer technical degree. Few days a go, foundation stone put for National School of Business Management and it offers degree and charge money to cover the cost. Malabe Campus (SAITM) is operating well and it has finished its teaching hospital. Most talented government university professors are working in SAITM as part-time lectuerers. Heigher Education minister try to introduce rules and regulations for these non-state universities. However, FUTA has opposed it, because some of it members want to work in these institutions. If there is law, it will prohibit such a work. Most of general public wear the hidden agenda of FUTA. But, they are not organize to raise their voice. If genuinely, FUTA want to uplift the heigher education in Sri Lanka, they should support for non-state universities and assist to make rules and regulation for non-state university. These rules should include refrain state universiy teacher working in non-state universities, minimum entry qualification for students, education and research qualification of non-state university teachers ect. There is need a body for monitor the standard of non-state universities. These relues should pass from an Act.

        We expect FUTA as professional body and not a JVP trade union.

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    I agree with what Tharuki says. University teachers are to blame for the destructive sabotaging that they are playing. They are not doing their part as educated, intelligent people who know the world around.

    They are not mentoring the students or people behind them. They engage in petty politics and sabotage students’ lives and every thing else.

    See how University teachers in the North and Eastern provinces do their best with what ever the available facilities. While you guys are devided into party politics and sabotage the country just because of politics.

    You can do a better job by exposing the govt but continuing and doing a better service that you are doing.

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    University teachers are not to blame for the indiscipline of students whch is not conducive for teaching and guidance.More funds will mean better quality of teaching and research.
    What the government does not say is that a large percentage of revnue and expenditure goes on the armed forces.Even recently 14 helicopters are on order. The armed forces are demanding more and more and the state cannot refuse,as it depends on the army to prevent/quell uprisings by the people.

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    I would like to ask from the public “Do you know how many hours university teacher has to work?”. It is maximum 20 hours per week (4 hours per day). On average, it is less than 10 hours per week. Why they don’t have 40/45 hours per week compared to other government officers such as doctors, engineer, bank officers? They have to do research. But, most of them haven’t do any research and no research publications for their account. This is adversely affected to the Sri Lankan university ranking. It is also adversely affected to the country. Because, economic, financial, political and law, scientific condition, medicine, bio-diversity, tourism, culture and religions environment and situations of the country does not go to international scholars, business community and other professional bodies. Most of social, economic and management researches are not costly. Government has granted research allowance to their salary. But, they have to do research and they cannot get that money without doing fruitful research and research publication. Why they do not do research and what they do? Most of university lecturers do not have adequate talent for research. Most of state university lecturers are working for private degree offering companies, doing business or give tuitions for competitive exams. Why these FUTA against for the Act of regulations for private degree offering institution. Do you think they want to protect free education system? No. This propose act prohibit state university teachers working for private degree offering institution while they are working in a universities.
    What does government has to do? UGC has to introduce performance base salary scheme. Research should be main component and salary increment and promotion should be based on research publication, international patent and licenses. Pakistan, UK, Australia higher education commissions/ UGC has introduced list of journals accepted for publications. UGC is also responsible for present crisis of higher education. UGC does not do any innovation things for uplift higher education. PhD scholars with research experience should attract to the Sri Lankan universities. UGC should abolish present scheme of recruitment and offer job to the people who has PhD and research publications. Some of students went abroad for PhD through foreign scholarship or self finance and they don’t have first degree. However, they have ACMA, CFA, Charted Chemistry/ Physics/ Biology and Engineering qualifications which are equivalent for first degrees. For example, Higher Education of Pakistan offer jobs to all PhD-holders in a university or research institution after they come back from foreign countries. UGC’s laws are old are they are not match with modern environment. Finally, Sri Lanka should introduce private universities with adequate human and physical resources with proper rules and regulations with UGC supervision.

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      Please do not think teaching is the only thing academics have to do…… they do not have secretaries to get done the heaps of paper work that has to follow even to get a cash advance for a practical …… so please do not mislead the public with this sort of wrong information… if you really want to know the facts, you better come to a department and see what happens really by your selves with out following crack people like Prof. Nalin says……….

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    There is nothing that gets my blood boiling that talk of the number of hours academics work. My work hours are not restricted to 9-5. Students call me all the time, I provide them with feedback whether during work hours or not. I stay up writing or get up early to work. The academics I work with work very hard and I feel that of our department I am the least hard working and even I am overloaded with work. Academics have three roles, of which teaching is only one. They are also expected to engage in national development and research. When you combine these three prongs, the large majority of academics work very hard. Therefore, I do not know where this talk of not working is coming from. Talk to academics you know to see what they are doing. True we don’t always work from the university. When I have something I want to really concentrate on and not be disturbed I go elsewhere to work. This does not mean that the individual is not working. There would be no way for me to do the work I do within the 40/45 hour work week spent in an office because the office is disruptive.

    You say social behavioural economic research is not costly. True, such research does not need high priced equipment, it does however need access to libraries. When you don’t have access to literature you have to go through various circuitous routes to get access to it. This is time consuming and not very effective. Secondly, research is first presented at conference with peers who are working on similar research. The feedback you get is then used to build your work. It is that synergistic effect that makes research dynamic. These meetings are also when you are able to find collaborators, invitations to contribute to books and reviews. In Sri Lanka, whatever anyone may say, getting funding to go for conferences in almost impossible. Many academics in other countries have funds allocated to them to present their work. There aren’t even applications involved.

    There is a performance based salary system already. That is the promotion scheme but no scheme is going to work if you can’t attract people to the universities in the first place. The problem of the z score is a symptom of a larger problem. Decisions are being made by people who are incompetent and who are selected for who they know rather than what they know. But I’m with you on the merits of performance based salary systems. I propose a performance based salary scheme for Ministers. I think that would solve most of our problems.

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    I do agree with Mistry on all accounts. We may have lectures for only a few hours a week, but that’s not all we do. Even though one might say that 3 hours is more than enough to prepare for a lecture, for me I need at least 2 weeks to prepare for a new lecture. Specially as my discipline is science based I have to always update my knowledge and be aware of the recent developments on the subject. And we have to attend conferences, seminars etc and refer to journals, latest text books, to keep up to date and all of that take an enormous amount of time. Sometimes I have to bring my work home and work till early hours of morning. Who counts those hours? You will see only the time that we spent at the desk or standing in a lecture hall!

    Besides teaching, we have other responsibilities, such as the service function. We conduct clinics, field work, public awareness programmmes for general public, school based programmes for school communities, etc. The preparation and implementation of these activities are time consuming.

    We not only do research but we supervise research of the undergraduate and postgraduate students. My doors are always open for anyone who wants to get some advice on research methodology. statistics, etc even if they are not my students. To give appropriate advice we need to go through the documents they provide, which is again time consuming.

    The research allowance given recently is not sufficient to pay a research assistant, so most of the time we have to look after all aspects of our research sometimes including data collection itself. Once we finish a research we cannot submit it to international conferences unless we are given a grant or a scholarship from the organizers because in my university there is no system to sponsor such things. From my work experience in a UK university on a research fellowship, I know in universities in other countries they have a grants system for their employees that provide financial assistance to attend and present papers in such conferences.

    Not only that, we have to serve as members of various local, regional and national committees/task forces and professional bodies. Within the university also, there are various committees and societies which require our time and attention.

    This is only a part of work that I do, and I know most of my colleagues are also working hard. So when ever you say what do academics do, you are only showing your ignorance and narrow-mindedness.

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    Dear Dons,

    I hear your frustation, but I see a danger too when you put all your eggs into this “GDP or govt. expenditure share basket”. How many of you do beleive that more money will solve the our country’s education crisis? Is it just lack of funding alone? If you push too far this “tunnel vision” of just seeing lack of funding as the root of all evils in our education system, you would unintentionally bury many other important aspects of this issue. Suppose (by a miracle) government decided to meet your demand by spending more on education. Where would be the most FERTILE area to have that money spent (should it be on dons’ compensations or on more IT education among rural students)? If you are just asking more money without knowing on what ways that money should be spent to accomplish the desired outcomes (I have no clue about the desired outcome either), it is difficult to convince our treasuary or an open minded person. I have no faith in what S.B or other big mouths of the government is saying. But your demand for more money is equally illogical, unless you inform us the specific ways to spent that increased share of government expenditure on education and these specific ways will (at least) logically lead to the desired outcome that country needs. These are education policy in a broader context of government policy making. Dons could enlighten this process (as policy advisors) but they are not final policy makers.

    I think the function of a good education system is to inculcate “creativity” in its products, not parroting out what teachers (from their teachers) gave them in the classroom. Creativity and ability to think much more open manner would better serve our students than just receiving “upper or lower classes” which is only a small aspect of that creativity. Whats our dons’ vision on that? What are the changes that our dons are craving for to have such a education system in the country? Your agitation would get much bigger public support if you could maintain a dialouge on these issues as well.

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      I do agree with Kodithuwakku, Mistry and Laksha. Do not count the workload of an university academic with allocated time table hours. There are much work for them not in their time table. Councelling of weak students, supervising PG &undergraduate students, revising the curriculum, attending meetings in the university, upgrade the knowledge for quality teaching, Paper marking, Correcting the dissertations thesis…etc…. would not count for the 8-5 time table hours. What a joke??? Without knowing who is an academic do not try to comment. There may be some staff who are not doing their duties properly. Authorities have to adapt a methodology to circulate the staff cadres according to the workload of the faculty or dept. UGC only think about the university as a whole while allocating staff. Once cadre is allocated no way of changing…

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    attitudes of the people outside universities on Sri Lankan academics are seemingly negative in nature. that is because of the false information they gain from the news from government television channels. it is already made jealousy in people’s minds with regard to academics. it is not false to say that academics work day and night, week days and weekends. they grow old by living their lives through pages of books, gathering knowledge. they are tired more mentally. they do many things like supervision, guidance, writing other than teaching. it is not limited only to teaching. and it is their duty to engage in all such activities. the productions (graduates) of them earn lot than that of them. so, it is needed to give them due salaries. many questions are to be answered. do people know the amount of their salary?. why do people believe in what government tells about salary increasement? without knowing things of that kind, is it right to say something on academics’ strike.

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    I see this argument made saying that University Dons are not doing enough. No publications no research….. Ok with what exactly are we suppose to do research. Do we have proper facilities. Does the relevant authorities allocate funds for R&D. I think majority of the university academics are doing an excellent job with the meager resources available. Give us the facilities and the proper environment and then if academics don’t perform, blame it all on us. If you had a study, written a paper and tried to publish it, you’d probably understand. This is how people think of us. No wonder most of the academics are not returning after higher studies.

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