By Hema Senanayake –
Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri took a principled position to severe his all relations with Citizens’ Power (Purawesi-balaya) and National Movement for a Just Society (NMJS). The reason was that some of the leaders of those two civil society movements have expressed their support for the Malambe private medical school which is popularly known as SAITM and Nirmal has vowed to appear against the privatization of education.
Nirmal has a strong case if we look at the education model in Canada – And its university education is almost free and publicly funded by spending nearly 5.4% of the country’s GDP and having done so Canada has produced 51% of graduates among its adult population, perhaps the largest percentage of graduates in any developed country.
In regard to private university education, just south to Canadian border, the United States provides a strong example by having most prestigious universities in the world and they all are privately funded, yet the important point is that parents’ income do not matter for best students who seek admission to those universities and this was especially true prior to the year 2008. In general, none of the student who wants to pursue university education is left out in the American system. American system ensures social justice and right to education for all who could perform well. I am not sure whether Nirmal could agree for such a system. Having said that, I am also not sure whether parents’ income did not matter for best students who seek admission to the SAITM.
Whatever the case is, the question about SAITM is not about the quality of graduates it produces. If the quality is poor as argued by GMOA, the quality could be improved fairly easily. But Nirmal’s position has a different dimension. He opposes the privatization of university education.
Therefore, if we think that the education system must ensure the right to education and must ensure social justice, basically both these goals have been equally achieved by the U.S. system and Canadian system.
So, which system is good for Sri Lanka? If we raise the question this way, as we do it now, we cannot come to a consensus in formulating a national policy on tertiary education. Therefore, I think we must raise the question from a macro-economic point of view. First, let me define the U.S. education system and Canadian system from an economic point of view. The Canadian system is basically in the “Consumption Mode” while the U.S. system is in the “Enterprise Mode.” One important difference between the two systems is that the U.S. system contributes to increase national revenue (or proceeds as defined by Keynes) while the Canadian system does not. Please note that “national proceeds” is not GDP and this is a parameter that is not calculated or estimated by the central bank but we use it to analyze and to understand the economic system. Keynes defines “national proceeds” as the sum of total sales.
In view of above, now, we could raise the question more appropriately. Should Sri Lanka put the tertiary education system in the “Consumption Mode” or in the “Enterprise Mode” – And this is the right question to be asked.
Perhaps, readers might be interested to know my answer to the above question before we continue further. My quick answer is that, if we could ensure the right to education and social justice, I support the “Enterprise Mode” immaterial of the ownership of the educational institute which could be owned by private entity or the government.
I strongly feel, that my good friend Nirmal could agree with my position now. If this discourse leads in formulating a national policy on tertiary education, that would be truly advantageous for our country rather than narrowing down the issue to discuss about SAITM.
Sengodan. M / August 14, 2016
It is alright to have private universities so long as those universities provide a specific quotas of scholarships to the deserving bright students who do not have the means to pay for their education. What is most important is the quality of education which should not be sacrificed under any circumstances. This is not something too hard to achieve!
Amarasiri / August 14, 2016
RE: Dr. Nirmal Vows To Appear Against Privatization Of Education
“… Nirmal has vowed to appear against the privatization of education.”
Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri misses the point. It is the competition that leads to progress.
The real question is that will Privatization Of Education lead to enhancement f education and meritocracy, that will help Sri Lanka in globally competitive world?
Right now, there is an element of meritocracy in the selection of students, but the selection is based partly based om memorization, rather than intelligence. So, for student selection an intelligence teat also should be included, to lever the playing field.
Competition will also make the State Universities their faculty to compete for talent, students, funds and international recognition.
sr / August 14, 2016
Please don’t appear against privatizing education, appear strongly to improve the quality of the education whether it’s private or government.
People can’t understand the hatred some have towards SAITM, the private medical college, though there’re many private colleges that offer degrees in other professions like, engineering, management etc. etc; for them there’s no dislike.
Sad to mention that the quality of majority of our graduates produced by state universities is also questionable.
Bagehot / August 14, 2016
There is a ‘viral’ article these days by a chap called ‘dilshanwrites’ about the crap ‘MBA’s’ that are being sold for millions of rupees from unheard of universities in the uk/australia and are collecting fees in droves. None of these ‘intellectuals’ or university students ever protest about that, despite these programmes attracting most of Sri Lanka’s corporate sector.
You can find the article if you google it ‘Foreign MbAs in sri lanka: the bad the scam and the ugly’
This is all Sri Lanka’s foreign currency being eroded. How come these ‘intellectuals’ never comment on these things?
MUDSON SILVA / August 14, 2016
Nirmal supports GMOA.
Anil Rupasingha / August 14, 2016
College education in Canada, though highly subsidized by the government, is absolutely not free. On average, a student still has to spend a couple of thousand dollars per year for college in Canada.
Ramesh / August 14, 2016
US Universities in Enterprise mode have made their degrees inaccessible to middle class and students graduate with a large debt. One of the main issue in presidential election this year in US is student debts.
Raj / August 15, 2016
University education, even in developed countries, is no longer free. In UK, students from poor backgrounds are eligible for an outright grant determined by a ‘means test’ but all others are eligible for a students loan to cover their tuition fees & living costs which they only have to pay once they start earning above a certain threshold. This ensures tax payer money is not wasted on irrelevant courses & the students are serious about education.
Universities in SL turn out graduates below par on average, compared to international standards & some end up with Degrees that have no relevance to the needs of the country. It is time the education system is overhauled & even charged a nominal fee as in developed countries to provide a better quality of education. After all, anything free is not appreciated.
Shrikharan / August 18, 2016
“Nirmal has vowed to appear against the privatization of education.”
So in that case state should provide the education provided the aspiring student has the basic requirements. Then certainly no problem and am with you.
Then what happens if the state cannot provide the education the aspirant requires? Are you saying for such people to jump in the sea? Education is a fundamental right of any individual. Surely if the state does not have the funds then these people should be able to have alternative means.
The more important issue will be not to privatize health service as many Government doctors do not spend time in hospital and only work in their private dispensaries and shout from their rooftops to abolish private medial education to have their monopoly. It will be a great service if the GMOA spends their time crusading against privatization of Health care and abolishing private practice for those employed at the state medical institutions. Adios
Upali Wickramasinghe / August 18, 2016
Dr. Nirmal, you are wrong.Even the University Entrance Exam is privatized and the results sold to those who could afford.Schools do not teach the students, do not discipline them ( which even the Universities seems to fail) it is the private tutories that help the students to pass the University Entrance Exam.
Why do not you stand up against private tutories, which are springing up like gadiwillas during a rain?
I think that is high time that all students are charged a fee for their education.Government based free education had produced a few parasites like the Officials of the GMOA.
Jagath Siriwardena / August 23, 2016
GMOA and Medical students are not against already partly privati ed health service in Lanka.They are against privati ing medical education only.The intention of this way of thinking is limiting the number of animals entering the jealously guarded pasture.If they really want to upgrade the quality of medical education provided by SAITM they should support the Ministry of Higher Education in it’s effort to provide clinical facilities of government hospitals to those SAITM students.
Most of the GMOA members and almost all medical students who protest private medical education are hybrid products of partly privati ed and partly state run GCE A’level education of Lanka.Tell me the names and addresses of 10 medical students who did not attend any private tution class to augment their standard in physics,chemistry or biology.Tell me the names and addresses of 10 GMOA member whose Bio stream children are not attending private tution classes.