14 August, 2020

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An Open Letter To The VC Of The USJ & The Chairperson Of The UGC: The Tragic Injury To Pasindu:Just What Do You Teach Your Students?

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

An Open Letter to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and the Chairperson of the Grants Commission: The Tragic Injury to Pasindu Hirushan:Just what do you teach your students?

People are shocked by the following tragic incident. A first-year student of the management faculty of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, PASINDU HIRUSHAN, suffered serious injuries. He has been in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for several days.  According to reports his condition is quite serious.

The details of the incident have not yet been published in detail. But it becomes clear that the incident was a result of an act of violence caused by one or more students against another student named, Pasindu Hirushan. He is a first year student at the University. There is some speculation that the incident may be due to ragging.

While the Police have announced an independent inquiry, the Vice-Chancellor of VIDYODAYA UNIVERSITY and the Chairperson of the Grants Commission have also promised independent inquiries and punishment of the culprits. It appears that the promise of inquiries, when judged by similar inquiries promised in other universities, is merely an attempt to appease the public. They are angry about the incident similar to  that of Hirushan. Judging by past experiences of such inquiries, it is fair to accept that such statements are made to have a placebo effect-to appease public anger at such actions. In the end, the whole matter will be forgotten as the anger dies down. In any case, given the kind of dysfunctionality that prevails within the Judicial System of Sri Lanka, it is quite problematic. Added to the injuries, the student if he survives, or his parents will have to drag themselves to the Courts for 15 years or more before any one is convicted of a serious offence like this.

In any case, to only blame the students is a way of escaping the responsibility which lies with the University Administration led by the Vice-Chancellor and the Grants Commission. One question that needs to be asked of these Education Authorities is: what kind of education are you imparting to these students? Pasindu’s incident is not an isolated one. Even worse incidents have been reported from other universities, including organized attempts of prolonged sexual abuse of students. In one instance, a student reported that he finally left the University because of the prolonged harassment he had suffered.

A University Education is meant to develop refinement and to inculcate a value system within a student. It means that in their future life they would play a much more positive role in Society-at-large. Education is not just about teaching particular subjects and awarding degrees. After a person obtains such a degree he/she enters into the broader Society.  The person must have a higher appreciation of values and should be able to interact with the rest of Society in a creative and caring manner.

This does not automatically happen when someone is admitted to a University. The responsibility lies with those who conduct such educational endeavors. They must consciously bring to their curriculum and activities a three-pronged approach. This will help the students to respect each other, love each other and care for each other. In the early days of University education in Sri Lanka this attempt was made quite successfully. Many who passed through the corridors of Universities could keep long term relationships and contribute to Society within a culture of values commonly shared. It may be that all of them do not turn out that way. However, for the most part, development of personality in a positive direction was an ideal cherished in all education, particularly in the institutions of higher learning.

It appears that stories of sheer cruelty and barbarity are constantly being reported. And Universities offer nothing more than pure disciplinary inquiries. There is something radically wrong here in the educational philosophy being put into effect in such Universities. This is what the Vice-Chancellor and Chairperson of the Grants Commission should examine: the responsibility of not only students who may have caused this injury but about their own responsibility too. Self-examination on the part of the authorities who run the universities would have a far more reaching-impact than mere disciplinary or criminal inquiries. This is not to say that such inquiries are NECESSARY. It is only to point out the obvious.  In the ladder of the hierarchy of merits, self-examination of Education Authorities refers to two areas. First, how have they been carrying about their responsibilities? Second, how are they motivated regarding the concepts and philosophy of education?  This would be a far better test of finding out why such a low level of behavior manifests itself so often.

For a long time now, the Public has not taken much interest in the type of education that is needed and should be expected from our Universities. NOW is when the ideals of a University Education should be made part of a Community discussion. And, the Authorities responsible for running these institutions, held responsible for imparting to students an education that is humane. Cultivation of a positive value system should be the test by which an education system is judged.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    4

    Is this a sad result of “Free Education” ?

  • 10
    2

    This is the direct result of the free culture, and every thing free – nikan and sumah. In any part of the world where they pay, they get things better with high quality. When you make them to pay, the parents and students know the pain of it, and take things seriously. Due to this our universities, schools and all other education institutions gone to dogs. They play hell instead of studying, and get through by any means. After graduation when they found out, they are unemployable, they put pressure on the government for employment. What a wast of public money. Each and every individual of the country pay for this sin, even when they buy their daily essential for their living. It’s high time to stop this nonsense and madness.

  • 5
    0

    The University ordinance should be amended to make it mandatory for the Universities to bear the legal, medical and living expenses of students suffering from ragging.

    Police posts with intelligence staff with access to the live pictures of video cameras is required for the police to act promptly.

    • 1
      0

      Lal, do not worry, The UGC, The Universities and the staff both tutorial and non tutorial, even the scavenger class will agree with no protest.It is not their money but the tax payers money

      There are few solution.1. All,students should pay for their education. Provisions should be made available for the poor students to earn their living.The charges should be, as far as possible be in line with the parents income – come Sunday Padeniya and the crowd will oppose.
      2.For the lower income groups, their should be a facility to finish their examinations over an extended period.

  • 5
    0

    Ragging in the form of sadism has been going on for decades. The only children who are not ragged are the children of politicians. If Gota wants to be taken seriously he must put an end to this immediately.

  • 2
    0

    The attorney general should charge the culprits in Ragging. The VCs should file charges. The parents of Victims should file criminal charges against the cukprits and the university VC and Council.

  • 2
    0

    This article highlights the deficiencies of the University administrators and the whole academic community in facing strong counter action against student thugs who resort to violet and barbaric crime in the name of ragging. In a classic case several agriculture students of the Peradeniya campus were caught red handed ragging first years in a house. What did the university do? Thy held an inquiry which found them guilty but later they rescinded on their own decision to take them in and these students are now attending lectures as if nothing happened. Here it is the Dean of the faculty who fought for their reinstatement. Even appeals committee of the university comprising of academics thought it fit to exonerate these students. What a joke? If academics and the vice chancellors take such lenient action then ragging can never be stopped. VIce chancellors are scared of student unions who protect these raggers and the deans and other academic staff too are non-committal. What is the FUTA doing to curb this type of activity?
    Meanwhile even though they have been charged in courts delays at the attorney general’s department is dragging this case for the last four years. Coutts will take at least 15 eyars to hear the case. This is the kind of justice we have.

  • 1
    0

    University ragging predates all the Viruses to-date. This is on an Annual basis and those who should get their act together to be erect and firm are most probably Impotent!

  • 2
    0

    In the wake of the injury to the student concerned, the question is asked what do the Dons teach their students? More generally, what do teachers teach in schools and what do parents teach their children? The reality of the matter is that in some Universities, it is a free for all situation and as published in the media the University of Ruhuna had a separate administration and territories marked for students which was crushed. That same will of the Vice Chancellor of Ruhuna must prevail in the University of Jayewardenepura as well. Take the basic question. How did a heavy tyre come into the premises of the University? Clearly one student cannot lift that tyre and if the victim was mobile, it could not have been thrown on the head. Still we do not know whether it was due to ragging or otherwise. What is the reality? In 1983, in the University of Moratuwa, there was a mix of students following the degree program as well as the diploma program. Two first year students from deep down south, one being a degree student and the other the diploma student met and in broad daylight the diploma student stroked a knife on the degree student. The victim did not die because of injury itself but by the poison in the knife getting into the body. The aggressor was sentenced to 13 years by the High Court, apparently not found guilty of murder, even if it is a poisoning case. To cap it all the Court of Appeal saw fit to allow the appeal of the aggressor to release him on grounds that he is now gainfully employed. NO POINT ASKING WHO HAS TAUGHT WHAT. It is the systemic weaknesses that the unscrupulous take advantage of.

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