21 May, 2019

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Appoint A Competent Authority To Jaffna Uni: JUSTA

The Jaffna University Science Teachers Association (JUSTA) has called for the appointment of a competent authority in order to revive the university structures and rid the establishment of the malpractices that was steeped in for the past few years.

JUSTA while noting the abuses of power and malpractices that were committed by the university administration during the past few years, has noted that it is time to reintroduce the autonomous structures to the university as well as to ensure that accountability is promoted.

 Rajiva Wijesinha - Minister Higher Education

Rajiva Wijesinha – Minister Higher Education

“This the university cannot presently do by itself in the deteriorating state of the structure,” they have noted.
The organisation has highlighted several irregularities and malpractices that occurred during the Rajapaksa regime to which includes:

The Vice-Chancellor’s attempt to coerce the academics into signing a document pledging support to Mahinda Rajapaksa on December 23, 2014, claiming its a directive of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman

The lackadaisical attitude towards the abuses of recruitment committed by the VC, by the admsinitration, the Council and the Deans

The irregular manner in which the External members of the Council were appointed and the manner in which the Council discussions were carried out, resulting in a majority of internal members falling in line with the former regime’s policies in expectation of certain perks

Recruitment of substandard academics due to abuses of power by the VC, which has been condoned by the UGC

In order to attempt to reverse the adverse impacts of these actions, the JUSTA has called for the following series of tasks to be taken by a Competent Authority who would be appointed:

Holding an inquiry into the cases of malpractice in academic appointments

Holding a probe into the financial malpractices suggested by the Attorney General’s report on December 2012

We publish below the statement in full;

Cleaning up the University of Jaffna

An Appeal by the Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association University of Jaffna

In a healthy university the academics should feel and act the vice chancellor’s equals. When that does not obtain the university becomes unfit to be the chrysalis of future thinkers and leaders.

On 23rd December 2014 the Vice Chancellor of Jaffna circulated to the Deans a virtual order that she said originated in a ‘request’ from the UGC Chairman to obtain the signatures of academics supporting the victory of Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential Election (EN 1). The unions played their part in exposing this scandalous imposition and no signatures were forwarded to the UGC Chairman. This exemplifies the crude and at times abusive manner in which academics are treated and spoken to at university meetings. When academics allow themselves to be treated as servants, they are mainly to blame for the state of the university.

Several reports of the JUSTA (one signed by over 80 academics) detailing abuses in recruitment circulated to the Vice Chancellor and Council were systematically ignored. Neither was the Administration, the Council nor especially the Deans at any time willing to discuss the matter (EN 6). It is ironical that the Council which repeatedly ignored representations on abuse, had finally to give answers at the Supreme Court to a Fundamental Rights application where the VC and Dean have lied under oath on several counts (EN 2).

Council, Internal and External Members; Who is to Blame? A government minister was given virtual control of the University. He appointed the external members to the Council who were a majority taking orders from him. Council decisions were discussed at pre-council meetings of external members a day before the actual meeting. The result was that the deans who constituted the majority of internal members found that for their business to run smoothly they must fall in line. Conformity also eased the route to perks (which included recruitment of their favourites). Even the election of the vice chancellor lost any semblance of independence. The last election of the vice chancellor in March 2014 was minutely scripted at the Minister’s office (EN 3). Nothing else and no other voice mattered.

It is easy to point the finger at external members, but this would be to make them scape goats for the sins of academics who are internal members of the council. It is the Vice Chancellor and Deans who run the University and no council decision can pass without their consent. In a normal selection board two thirds of the members are academics, including the Vice Chancellor and the Dean concerned. Every abuse in selection was dictated by an internal member, the Vice Chancellor with the willing or unwilling support of a Dean or vice versa.

Abuses have their roots in a longer history in the unwillingness of Senates and Councils to assert themselves and there have been instances from the early 2000s of promising well-qualified applicants to academic positions being administratively suppressed and the applicant ignored without any communication. What happened subsequently was simply superimposed on earlier practices, where the University’s democratic safeguards had become ineffective.

This state of affairs is calculated to pack the University with sub-standard academics who will not think for themselves, kowtow to anyone in authority and perpetuate mediocrity.

Related to this are non-academic appointments through political lists sanctioned by UGC Circular 876. This results in support staff essential to the running of the University seldom being recruited for their ability. In the recruitment from political lists of persons who fared very badly in aptitude tests, the dirty work has been done mainly by academics seeking political favours (EN 4). Circular 876 is contrary to the written law which guarantees equality of opportunity for all citizens and should be immediately rescinded.

We thus urgently need to revitalise the dormant democratic structures of the University together with structures for accountability. This, the University cannot at present do for itself in the atrophied state of these structures.

We urge you to appoint as Competent Authority a suitable person who would revive the University’s structures and put them back on track. For the reasons given our present deans and those who have exercised executive power over selections in the past are grossly unsuited for this role.

Among the first tasks of the competent authority is to hold an inquiry into cases of malpractice in academic appointments in the reports given in EN 4 and others that may be brought to the inquiry committee. We have given three prima facie cases where the rejected candidates should be given relief without delay (EN 2). Another is to look into financial malpractice suggested by the Auditor General’s report of December 2012.

The person appointed as competent authority should possess a reputation for integrity, an impartial mind capable of an unbiased approach and, importantly, be one who is unconnected with abuses of the past and have suitable administrative experience.

We make our request on the strength of the important contribution we made to give the country a new beginning and new hope of a democratic future. The electors in the North were confronted with a vacuum. It was left to our unions to issue public appeals telling people that to vote is to stake a claim to making their own future (EN 5). This no doubt played a significant role in changing the public mood to participate in massive numbers. We trust our hopes are vindicated and our University, the main centre of knowledge and learning in the North, will have a new beginning.

End Note

1. Brazen Violation Of Election Laws And Bullying By UGC Chairman And Jaffna VC https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/brazen-violation-of-election-laws-and-bullying-by-ugc-chairman-and-jaffna-vc/

2. Academic Recruitment: Affirm Excellence or Perpetuate Mediocrity and Corruption? https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/jaffna-uni-teachers-up-in-arms-governor-chandrasiri-and-douglas-not-to-be-seen/

3. VC Election In Jaffna: An Open Season For Academic Suicide- https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/vc-election-in-jaffna-an-open-season-for-academic-suicide/

5. Discriminating Against Excellence-https://www.colombotelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Academic-Criteria-FINAL-30-Jul-Clean.pdf

6. Vote to Save Democracy-https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/vote-to-save-democracy-jaffna-university-science-teachers-association/

7. Selection to Academic Positions in the University-https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/justa-faults-selection-procedure-for-academic-positions-on-campus/

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Latest comments

  • 17
    1

    Dear Prof Rajiva

    Your overt sympathy for the paramilitary leader Douglas Devananda who has committed untold crimes for standing against the LTTE and escaping death in the hands of the LTTE is well known. You have said Douglas cannot be isolated and that he should be supported at any cost.

    Have your position changed now with the good governance mission of the new government. Will you openly state that Douglas will not be patronised by the state any longer and he will be kicked out of the Jaffna Uni environs once and for all.

    This is a challenge for you to uphold the mission of the government.

    Romesh

    • 1
      4

      when ‘Competent’ people are and were appointed it does not make the NEWS of Colombo TELEGRAPH.. when Progressive steps are taken to solve the our national problem it does not take headlines in CMB telegraph.. Yet headlines like these do, wonder why???

      • 3
        0

        Malaka

        What are you saying.

        Cbo Telegraph was in the forefront to campaign for the regime change. It has happened.

        It is CT’s role to highlight good governance issues post regime change.

        Rajiva (intellectual) + Douglas Devananda (murderous paramilitary and an idiot) relationship is a governance issue and must me campaigned to promote good governance.

        If Rajiva does not absolve he will contribute towards continuation of the degeneration.

    • 0
      0

      Douglas is a well known criminal and a gangster who should be investigated by the international independent body of war crimes and human rights abuses. If Rajiva believes in good governance, Douglas has no room or place in it.

  • 15
    1

    Surely Prof Wijesinge cannot turn a blind eye to the way Douglas and his cronies are running the university. The fact that the professor had not commented so far on Douglas’s and his vassal VC’s shenanigans suggest that he is on the side of the paramilitary murderer Douglas. How he is going to explain away his inaction will be interesting to know. JUSTA should keep up the pressure.

  • 10
    0

    The Council, the Board, the Senate, etc should go. The Academic Heads should be asked to reapply for their positions. I do not have all names in the Council and such, but some of the names I have made me laugh, no, no, cry!

  • 2
    0

    The council should be overhauled with persons that have dedicated their service for academic advancement and not to have any political affiliation other than casting his votes. (S)he can her own convictions about politics but shouldn’t bring into the council or the Uni.

    Neither Douglas nor Kittu (of those years) controlling the running of it.

  • 6
    0

    Rajiva being the leader of Liberal Party with Democratic Principles, was sucking up to Rajapakse who was not a Liberal or a Democratic ruler. How can we expect Rajiva to be Democratic or even Liberal? He is prepared to defend any one under him as long as they are his friends. President Maithreepala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremasinghe have to be cautious of this Rajiva. Rajiva always puts
    “Puss-Pundit” Dayan on a pedestal. Ranil should have thought about the voter base which Rajiva can bring to the table. Even his own party members do not like him or his support to Rajapakse, they feel this guy is an opportunist. He jumped from a sinking ship and now he is again climbing a fence to stay on top of the fence wondering which side to jump after the next general election. He is doing what “Old Thondaman” use to do.

    Rajiva prove that you are an honest person. You guys came to power saying that you will clean the playground, do it. If you do not have the guts to do it, please leave your seat, resign and allow another person who has guts to do it.

    I am of the opinion one of the JVP leaders will do a better job as they are HONEST and you are NOT.

  • 3
    0

    Is it true that this higher education minister cannot speak or write Sinhala?????What a joker!!!!

    • 0
      0

      That cannot be. Given his age, he would have done his AL in Sinhalese under the law.

  • 0
    0

    This administration is not keeping it’s word. MS, s brother is appointed. People who grossly abused power are supported and encouraged like VC and UGC chair

  • 5
    1

    This is a reasonable request by JUSTA. The so-called Vice Chancellor is an incompetent who has created the university in her own image, filling the place with people who are not fit to teach at schools. The thug, Dog Devananda has been the source of her power. It is time to drive both of them to enjoy oblivion together

  • 3
    0

    It is commendable that JUSTA has brought such administrative irregularities in the U of J to the concerned public and alerted the Minister of Higher Education. However one need to question the need for a “Competent Authority” to investigate and remedy the irregularities. Often in such a University situation, when trust is lost in an internal mechanism, an external commission with an Eminent Person as the Chairman is the process that is best. I do hope, Minister Rajiva will examine the request by JUSTA and provide a Team of specialists in University administration and education to investigate and make recommendations as soon as possible.

    An equally important issue, that a Science Teachers Association has not alerted the Minister and the concerned public is, in my view grave one in the U of J Curricula, teaching and evaluation process including related academic matters. All of such issues is not only within their competence but is also a duty to examine from withinand improve each year. If JUSTA assumes all is well in its academic matters then U of J is in deeper trouble.
    My recommendation to the Minister is to set up a commission from within and outside the country to examine all academic matters in the U of J and probably others in Sri Lanka, though Moratuwa, Colombo and Peredeniya may be exempt from such a list.

  • 7
    0

    I think this is a fair request to appoint a competent authority to investigate all the malpractices and corruptions in the Jaffna University. The present Vice Chancellor’s (Vasanthy Arasaratnam) computer fraud allegations ( suggested by Auditor general) along with her Political involvement with Mahinda regime should be investigated.

    The investigation should be extended to the period of Shanmugalingam, Mohanadas etc

  • 4
    0

    Academic’s qualifications (or academic excellence) of prominent persons at Jaffna University

    Vasanthy’s basic degree – 3 year ordinary science degree from India
    Dean/medicine (Balakumar) – 3 year ordinary science degree without class (completed the degree in the second attempt)
    Raviraj ( Head/surgery) – ordinary MBBS degree

    How can they teach and evaluate students performance (particularly in the medical faculty)?????

  • 0
    1

    More than 30 years of mess can’t be cleaned overnight. We need to build a law abiding society and hope we do not need Anniyan or Indian to clean North. Thank you for the service Duglus and people like him provided up to now, they can go now in a decent way, it is not good to make people to through them out – a man collaborated with MR and did lot of work in North – beggar.

  • 6
    2

    Hey Rajiva, we all know you are slowly trying to creep into Jaffna to show your ugly head and become the VC of Jaffna Uni. Nobody needs you there, so stay put wherever you are from. WE CERTAINLY DON’T NEED A RACIST.

  • 2
    0

    State Minister of Higher Education, Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, under powers vested in him by the Universities Act, has appointed Prof Ranjith Premalal De Silva as Competent Authority (CA) for the Tricomalee Campus, with effect from January 15, 2015.

    The decision to appoint a CA was taken because the Administration of the Trincomalee Campus of the Eastern University, Sri Lanka, have been seriously disrupted as the Authorities of the Trincomalee Campus have failed to restore normal conditions, the gazette notification appointing Prof De Silva said.

    The notice said Prof Premalal De Silva will be the CA for the purpose of exercising, performing or discharging in lieu of the Rector of Trincomalee Campus.

  • 1
    0

    Prof.Rajiva W enjoyed all perks and privileges with Rajapaksas and joined the common candidate at the correct time.Under the Rajapaksa regime he was running the Peace Secretariat like a’War Scretariat” with his inflammatory speeches and vituperative writings. Although he is a close kinsman of Ranil W,knowing fully well Rajiva’s ways Ranil denied him a parliamentary seat in the 2001 UNP government.Rajiva therefore got together with MR in order to spite Ranil when MR became President in 2005.No wonder he is in tow with the disgruntled Dayan Jayatillake and Douglas Devananda et al to embarrass the present government.

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