Colombo Telegraph

FUTA Wants Academics To Take The Correct Decision On Rajapaksa Meeting

Federation of University Teachers’ Associations has today called upon the academic community to take the correct decision with regard to the President Rajapaksa‘s invitation to a so called ‘Progress Review Meeting’ schedule on December 1, 2014.

ChandragupthaThenuwara – FUTA President

Issuing a statemnet today the FUTA said; “It has been brought to our notice that certain Vice- Chancellors are exerting pressure on academics to attend this meeting and we vehemently condemn such efforts. The academic community must maintain academic freedom and university autonomy at all times. The integrity of our profession and the higher education sector must not be compromised.”

We publish below the statement in full;

FUTA has learned that the Ministry of Higher Education and the UGC have issued invitations to all academics of state universities to attend a ‘Progress Review Meeting’ at Temple Trees on the 1st of December 2014 at 3.30 pm. No details of this ‘Progress Review Meeting’ have been provided.

We find the timing of such meetings extremely questionable. Previously too, a meeting was held in 2010, just prior to the Presidential Election. We consider such initiatives blatant attempts to politicise the administration of the higher education sector. If the President was serious about conducting a progress review of the higher education sector, this is certainly not the way to set about it. In fact, FUTA has been agitating since 2012 for the establishment of a Presidential Commission to review the existing higher education sector and to propose higher education policy. We find it extremely curious that such initiatives are ignored and instead, meetings of this nature are hurriedly called only once an election has been announced. Suspicions among the academic community that such meetings are simply part of the President’s election propaganda are therefore justifiable.

Of course the President has the right to engage in election propaganda and to campaign. Academics also have the right to express their political views, to advocate on behalf of their political ideologies and to even campaign on behalf of their political choices. However, the use of public funds, and public office Election Commissioner to ensure that election laws are upheld by all political parties and candidates.

We are confident that our academic community which has been fighting to preserve university autonomy and against politicisation of the higher education sector will take the correct decision with regard to this invitation to a so called ‘Progress Review Meeting’. It has been brought to our notice that certain Vice- Chancellors are exerting pressure on academics to attend this meeting and we vehemently condemn such efforts. The academic community must maintain academic freedom and university autonomy at all times. The integrity of our profession and the higher education sector must not be compromised.

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