19 September, 2020

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New Appointments – We Will Be Watching Closely: FUTA

It is the considered view of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) that the appointment of incompetent persons to positions of authority has been one of the most significant reasons for the deterioration of Sri Lanka’s university system in the recent past. The majority of these appointments have been politically motivated with loyalty to the regime in power, rather than competence or integrity, being the primary criteria for selection to important positions. In view of the new government’s decision to reconstitute the University Grants Commission and University Councils and also due to the fact that this government will be soon called upon to appoint new Vice-Chancellors to posts that are due to be vacated soon, the FUTA calls upon the government to:

Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri - Media Spokesperson FUTA

Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri –
Media Spokesperson FUTA

(i) Ensure that members appointed to the UGC should be persons with sound academic backgrounds, and committed to good and transparent governance, with a capacity to make a contribution, through consultation with all stakeholder communities as well as creative policy inputs, to the further development of the university system.

(ii) Refrain from appointing to the posts of Vice-Chancellor academics whose political party links and personal loyalty to individual political leaders overshadow their lack of academic excellence, administrative skills, and leadership qualities. This will ensure that the university system will get Vice-Chancellors who are accepted and respected by the university community.

(iii) Appoint persons to university councils who will be independent, with a strong commitment to university values, particularly autonomy and academic freedom and who will not function as mere rubber stamps of the political regime or the Vice-Chancellors. It is especially important that University Council members maintain independence as they are expected to provide a balance to the authority of the Vice-Chancellors and other officers of Universities.

(iv) Ensure that those appointed to positions of authority and responsibility by the government in the higher education sector should also be persons who are willing to engage with all the university stakeholders and be mindful at all times that they represent the interests of the public and that higher education is a precious public good.

We will be watching these appointments closely since they will reflect the government’s intentions with regard to tertiary education in this country as well as their adherence to practices of good governance. We hope that this government will keep in mind that they were elected to power by a popular mobilization across a cross section of society of which the university community was also a part. This mobilization took place due to the public’s deep dissatisfaction with the existing political culture in this country and the consequent serious damage to important public institutions. We sincerely hope that the government will demonstrate its commitment to changing this political culture and rebuilding important public institutions such as universities.

Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri
Media Spokesperson – FUTA

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  • 4
    0

    Universities should be freed from power based politics in terms of UGC ,VCs ,and student unions.If government is going to influence or try to implement their hidden agendas in universities through the VC and UGC chairmen then universities will not function as universal knowledge hub but rather politically motivated incompetent educational centers. Sri Lankan universities are incapable of maintaining their credibility and prestige in recent past.
    JVP,UNP,SLFP have also no rights to destabilize the students harmony within the university by forcefully imposing students to take up their ideologies. Students should be explorers rather than blind followers ,so to achieve this goal university teachers, Deans, VC s ,and UGC last but not least students’ leaders should be devoid of party politics.

  • 1
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    Rightly so Dr Dewasiri, FUTA to take action should be now not later . Politically appointed so called professionals had ruined the education system.the education department was crying out for true professionals instead half baked inefficient lecturers and professors sprouted out and appointed. If the top shelf was rotten to the core how can we expect to
    produce scholars to serve the country. Rotten trees produces rotten apples.
    It reminds me of the law college allowing crooked politically connected inefficient students to do the exams and gaining entrance to the register. This is all wrong?
    I am glad you have hit the nail now . This is the right time to eradicate the cancer in the system.
    Good Luck.

  • 1
    0

    The FUTA should have addressed other appointments like lecturers and nonacademic staff. In the past hundreds of appointments were given with just a recommendation letter from the minister (higher education) for clerical and allied grades and there was considerable influence in the lecturer appointments too.

  • 2
    2

    The hiring and firing of people to govt institutions should be done by the Public Service Commission (PSC). The PSC was re-established not that long ago. What is happening to that?

    The sole purpose of PSC is to act as an independent council of Human Resource Management experts for this task.

    So if FUTA wants UGC head to be removed they make an appeal to the PSC with the reasons. Then the PSC with the feedback from the Higher Education Minister takes the appropriate action.

    The PSC action is to be final. No more arguments after their ruling. These systems are in place to prevent these kinds of anarchy.

  • 1
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    UGC chair is gone and thank god for that.

    How about Colombo VC and SJU VC who were Rajapakse cronies?

    Any other VCs who were political catchers who should be kicked out ?

  • 2
    1

    Dr. Devasiri spells lofty ideals. But he talks of “University Values”. This means that the fellows selected for position must conform to the ideals agreeable to Devasiri and pals. That it self is politics.

    Dr. Devasiri should be more concerned with the serious degradation of attitudes of academics themselves before talking about authorities within the academia. One example is an academic is called “Professor Manioc” because he claimed money disproportionately for providing manioc to the University lab for some experimentation. Such Kleptocracy is rampant within the setup. “Procurement” is another interesting subject not only within the Universities but elsewhere. Academics are one of the highest paid lot in this country, perhaps justifiably, but that does not justify them at all to be Kleptocrats of the highest kind, of course they did not have the opportunity to dabble with the Billions which former Ministers did but some of them were so called consultants for the projects, which means that they were part of the game. Conflict of interest etc are other issues. The lecturer who is the examiner himself or herself would give more marks to his or her partner in opposite sex.

    Dr. Devasiri should embark on a program of internal cleanliness within the academics before going into other areas.

    • 0
      0

      The prime focus of university teachers should be to enhance the reputation of their institution in the world through research. Secondly the education of undergraduates should be taken as a priority.

      At present academics in FUTA are heavily involved in politics holding the undergraduates to ransom.
      When I was an undergraduate our studies were interrupted through strikes organised by academics and students involved in politics. The majority of students including myself simply wanted to get on with our studies and lives. The minority of academics and students with political agendas held us to ransom and prolonged our courses by number of years.The resulting economic damage to our selves and the country at large could be immense.

      In developed countries too there are malpractices with appointments albeit less than in SL. However, the academics or student leaders would never dream of holding students to ransom.

      Our past political leaders who gave us free education never dreamt that universities would plunge into chaos through educating all and sundry through free education.

  • 3
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    Nirmal…please spend more time to improve academic studies of Arts faculty in colombo. It is a shame that only Arts faculty- Colombo University has delayed the intake of new students (those who sat for A/L in 2013) until June 2015 while rest of the faculties have already started their terms for new students.It appears that you guys have given a very low priority for Academic studies at the Arts faculty-Colombo university.

    • 0
      1

      Mr/Mrs Yakmuna,

      The 2013 Arts Faculty intake is delayed till June 2015 at Colombo University because the Colombo VC closed the Arts Faculty citing hostel problems for 3 months last year. He refused to re-open the Faculty in spite of repeated requests by the Dean and academic staff. You can see the fallout of his stubbornness and inefficiency now. The students are suffering, which is typical of Colombo’s VC who doesn’t care about students OR academics. This is just one reason why academics have lost confidence in his ability to govern and provide direction to SL’s metropolitan University. This is why he must go. Resign, Sir, with some semblance of dignity. You do not have the qualities of a VC.

  • 3
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    Nirmal……….. it would be better for you in your old cassoack.
    Where is your side kick mahiman mendis of aog these days? What has he got to say?

  • 3
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    There is an urgent need to improve the quality of academics joining the university system. A 6% allocation from GDP will not solve this problem.

    The challenge is to retain the best students within the university system. Universities should not be looked as another place to get a job by the graduates.

    It will be interesting to know as to how many graduates from the 25,000 who pass out annually join the govt sector since they have no other choice. Don’t be surprised if the number joining the govt sector is as high as 80%!!! That tells you the story.

    I have a cousin who is a senior lecturer grade 2 and he does very little reseach and has to teach only 3-4 hours a week to the under grads!!! He gets a duty free car permit and teaches for the Masters programs during weekends with much interest and total monthly salary is comparable to a senior executive in the private sector. The earnings come from Masters programs and external degrees conducted by the university. There is free time to pick up the children at 1-30 pm on weekdays and never works after 5 pm. Not a bad job at the end of the day.

  • 0
    0

    Very interesting subject unfolding…

    News
    36 Political appointees in SL Missions abroad recalled home
    By Chandani Kirinde
    View(s): 4401

    Thirty six political appointees in Sri Lanka Missions abroad, below the level of Head of Mission, have been informed that their tours of duty end with effect from March 10 this year, and have been instructed to return home.

    These include relatives of politicians and of public officials closely connected to those in the former regime.

    However, four former military officials who are also political appointees, have been allowed to stay on till their terms end.

    Those recalled are First Secretary- Brussels, Dharshie Lokuge, daughter of former Minister Gamini Lokuge, Second Secretary- Tokyo, J.M.S.L. Bandara, brother of MP Janaka Bandara, Second Secretary- UN, New York, Ms C.J. Rambukwella, daughter of former Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Second Secretary- Washington, Janathri Nanayakkara, niece of MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Third Secretary- Dubai, UAE, Dilrukshan Jayasinghe, son of Minister Chandrani Bandara.

    Six political appointees have been recalled from Australia, four from the High Commission in Canberra and two from Sydney.

    They are Deputy High Commissioner- Canberra, Lakshman Hulugalle, Minister Counselor- Canberra, D.G.N. Rambukwella, Second Secretary- Canberra, Ms T.K. Chanitra Shalendri, Third Secretary- Canberra, Mrs Rathna Ranaweera, Consul General- Sydney, Bandula Jayasekera, and Consul Minister- Sydney, Yasara Abeynayake.

    The others are Deputy Chief of Mission- Vienna, Srimal Wickremasinghe, and Second Secretary- Vienna, Nawodh S. Hennayake, Consul General- Toronto, Mohan de Alwis, First Secretary- Beijing, Ms M.I. Thuduwewatte, Second Secretary- Cairo, P.K.M.R.S. Wijeratne, Second Secretary- Paris, Ms P.R.B.W. Cooray, Second Secretary- Berlin, Roshan Nalin Wijesinghe, Consul General- Frankfurt, Pradeep Jayawardene, L.M.S. Liyawdeen, Baghdad, Minister Chennai- Anusha Shivarajah and Second Secretary- Chennai, B.M.U.N. Bandaranayaka. Third Secretary- Jordan, Pradeep Maddhumabandara, Second Secretary- Kuwait, J.M.S.L. Bandara, Minister Counselor- Kathmandu, Dixon J Perera, Consul General- Jeddha, Dr Adambawa Uthumlebbe, First Secretary- Abu Dhabi, UAE, W.K.S. Dissanayaka, Minister- London, Lalith Sepala Ratnayaka, Minister- London, Dr (Mrs) Hashini Kokila Waidyartne, Second Secretary- London, Ms Muthu Padmakumara, Second Secretary- New York, Umayanga Nanayakkara, Minister- Washington, Tanuja Usliyanage, Minister- Washington, K.D. Ranjith, and Minister- Washington, Waruna Epasinghe.

    http://www.sundaytimes.lk/150215/news/36-political-appointees-in-sl-missions-abroad-recalled-home-135893.html

  • 0
    0

    The FUTA memorandum is timely, appropriate and common-sensical. In fact, it states the obvious. It speaks for the rampant politicisation over the years which must be dismantled.

    On the flip side, academics of recent (c. the past 30 years) haven’t exactly surrounded themselves with competence and diligence either, frequently choosing to tread water, do luke warm teaching/little/no research and do private consultancies at the expense of their teaching/research time.

    What is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander, so Dr Dewasiri, please engage with your colleagues to craft immediate strategies to set these deficiencies right.

  • 0
    0

    Yaha Palanaya! Can we shed some affiliations in the yester-year? We do emphasise on combating nepotism! Ranil is quite outspoken but has 2 nephews/relatives in the ministerial posts, Ruwan and Rajiv, Who may have legitimate rights to be there. After all if one is fit to be there he should not be disqualified simply because the person is a relative… like MY3’s brother in SLT!

    I think Rajiv should grow up without being a toddler with temper tantrums. There is overwhelming evidence from all universities, from many departments about Kshanika’s irregular appointments and decisions which alone is adequate to remove her without any inquiry. What about openly canvassing for MR? What about, vc of Kelaniya, Peradeniya med fac. dean, etc who have to be accountable for flouting government regulations. Why don’t you insist on interdiction them pending inquiry and if you really want to just, sack them if found guilty without beating about the bush! Mr. Minister Rajiv, don’t make a mockery of the system. If there are seemingly just complaints interdict aLl of themy pending inquiry! THIS IS NOT THE YAHA PALANAYA WE WANT IF NOT ALL OF SOME ONE WITH CREDIBILITY TO DO THE JOB.

    THERE IS A RUMOUR GOING AROUND IN UNIVERSITYIES THAT MY3’S SON AND KSHANIKA’S SON ARE FRIENDS AND THAT KSHANIKA ARRANGING A SCHOL for the Daham S ??? I don’t feel the rumour is right since UGC HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLS but with POST GRADUATE SCHOLS! Anyhow I think it would be nothing but right for MY3′ to straighten it out without allowing rumours (probably generated by K&K (Kshanika and Kumara) company Ltd. ) to damage his reputation!

  • 0
    0

    Wel Done Dr.Dewasri. you absolutely correct. In the case of Eastern University no leadership and management.the VC has nothing here. he is a Banana doctor. he never so any research. but he regularly take research allowance. even lecturer probationary has done lot of research and publication text book. he always interrupt the authors abilities and abstract for write text book. you know 25 academic problems here. he always revenge all academic and stop their promotion, increment, postgraduate degree, research allowances etc. so totally he is not fit for academic strength and abilities with capacities. no sound knowlege even his field also. he dont know how to handle the subordinates. he think he is the only man for suitable this position. we all know how he come the back door through third grade politician as like erly LTTE regional leaders. when he was a lecturer he did lot of think to academic and university activities. and many disturbance from this person. we all believe god. so god bring this person from Canada and revenge all what he done early time.
    Any way the academic people expect remove this person immediately for smooth function of EUSL.

  • 0
    0

    wel we are appreciate Dr.Dewasri reports.

  • 0
    0

    Really it is a good reports. very nice. Actually I like to ask about the the Vc appointment date. It is clear that the Vc’s duration is three years from the appointment. But our EUSL Vc stated that three years from the assumption of date. Is it correct. At the same time our former UGC chairman who is very close with our VC also sent a letter that three years from the assumption of duty. My questions
    1) She resigned the post from 09.02.2015 and almost all the commission members were resigned before 05.02.2015. And I heard that Ministry also requested to resign her on.06.02.2015. Then,she wrote that letter at the end point of her duty. Is the letter dated 09.02.2015 valid?
    2) Can she interpret the HE president’s letter? then She is supreme than the HE
    3) If she did these type of culprit work during these crises time then I wonder how she might did all the activities in the past three years as chairman UGC.

    from these i can conclude that she might have strong “commission deals” with the Canadian Imported former VC/EUSL Dr K Kobindarajah

  • 1
    0

    Of course there should be a criteria for the council members. Those who are enough competent to even talk about the academic sense. During the SB and kshanika period fully politicized members were appointed to Eastern university council. Typical example; Sb’s own brother LRB dissanayake an agrarian officer appointed without any rationale and he was the key person in that council and involved all the dealing with building contractors with Vice Chancellor. He came to Batticaloa and stayed “Malu malu”Pasikudah or East lagoon Hotel with “all” facilities provided by VC using University money and the contractors gift. Later he was the Trinco campus board member then member for South Eastern university council too to handle all the contract activities fully bribe and corruption

  • 1
    0

    Thanks Dr Dewasiri, you are absolutely right.

    All the university has some short of political interference…but the Eastern University is the worst one after the political appointment of Kobindarajah. He did the utmost third grade activities with the “boneless” people he appointed.

    (1) Kobi assumed duties on 04.03.2012, but his appointment was on 12.02.2012.

    (2) His term ends in 12.02.2015.

    (3) But he said that he received a letter from the former UGC chairman by fax (that he said)- his terms ends as per the assumption date….FUNNY THINGS…. But the fax has no official frank of the UGC chairman. Kobi may produce that letter illegally…he has the capacity….

    KOBI compelled the present acting registrar to inform this in the media (few web sites, but then it was removed immediately), but not in the paper. He did not displayed that letter in the last council. If he received an extension letter, he should displayed in the council. The new council did not asked…Why..? Is the new council is not competent..??

    Dear viewers you may see how the corruption level of Kobi, EUSL VC…!!!
    He cannot leave the seat even after his term. Because so much of money played.

    One Example:

    He purchased 600 beds for students recently. The price of a wooden bed was Rs. 52,480.00 per bed. Do you surprise….?? [The Arpico Luxury double bed with mattress is about Rs.45000]. Please think how much money is playing….Then how he leave the seat…..Useless people in the respective chairs….

    Please share this to your friends too.

  • 0
    0

    Then Higher Education Minister SB became a somebody only after 1994 when CBK became President.Prior to that he used to attend party meetings with a BATH parcel in hand.During his tenure in the cabinet he built a house in his electorate which generated controversy for its sheer opulence.When questioned by the Media he said that his friends helped him to build the House! Then he backstabbed CBK and joined Ranil in 2002,betraying him and joining MARA who gifted him with the portfolio of Higher Education!

    When corrupt and Lumpen elements are given such appointments is it a wonder that the Universites are in turmoil! Degrees alone are not enough; There should be Pedigree as well.

  • 1
    0

    SB was the culprit behind most of the university corruptions. Current Eastern university vice chancellor boasted once that SB drank in five minutes the full bottle of black label Johnny walker whiskey that he brought from Canada and signed his appointment letter. mm, if we can have a higher education minister like SB, why can’t we have a VC like Kobintharajah!

  • 1
    0

    VARATHAN.

    What I cant understand is how SB and his sidekick KOBIN should have whisky tastes with their TODDY background!

  • 0
    0

    I agree. Univerities and education in general should be devoid of political interference.

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