22 September, 2020

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Our Education: Throwing Away Ability To Deal On Equal Terms

By Rajan Hoole and Kirupaimalar Hoole

Our Education: Prisoner of a long, largely undeclared war – Part III 

University of Jaffna | Photo via Facebook University of Jaffna

The Council

Both Nilani and Ravivathani above complained immediately by letter to all the council members. These appear to have been totally ignored. Better standards were expected from the new council of 2015. Prof. Hoole, having been rejected by Jaffna several times with scant courtesy, eventually applied around July 2015 for senior lecturer grade I in engineering in Jaffna, although he had been senior professor in engineering at Peradeniya. Jaffna delayed the interview for a year and the selection panel decided unanimously to drop him. 

The Council reacted strongly to the absence of reasons. One councillor observed that a professor from the university ranked 47th in the world (Michigan) was not good enough for the one ranked 7000th. Sivasegaram, who had a strong conflict of interest in the matter, stood on the unanimity of the panel. At Peradeniya he had made several complaints against Hoole, such as for including human rights in his Computer Engineering course, from which committees of inquiry exonerated Hoole. The Council asked the Panel to re-examine its decision.

The selection panel replied five months later in December 2016 splitting hairs about his chair at Michigan and his not having applied through his head at Michigan and stated categorically that his expertise was inadequate to teach undergraduate electrical engineering in Jaffna. The Council should have, given their severity five months earlier, torn into the selection panel, several of whom had just signed to please their peers. But alas, the Council was distracted and let it pass. 

With loads of superfluous paper to be gone through in a day, councils are bound to slip up on several matters unless an interested council member is alert. Then the right thing to do is to admit the slip and take the matter up again. This they refuse to do. The person affected has to spend time and money rushing off to the superior courts in Colombo and stomach years of delay without knowing that the system goes by the immunity of vice-chancellors. This was the fate of Ravivathani. The lack of expeditious access to justice is a reason why universities are so corrupt.

Justice within the University System

The USAB was generally considered an adequate forum for grievances until the new trend marked by CJ Sarath Silva’s action against Attorney Elmore Perera in 2006. Thereafter, established laws and norms could be discarded with impunity. When the Judiciary is at sixes and sevens on the fundamental question of presidential immunity, this state of affairs is to be expected.    

In the case of a well-qualified academic with overseas exposure, a perusal of degrees awarded, professional accreditations, positions held and lists of publications, would immediately decide a person’s suitability for a position. Nitpicking a widely known academic’s application for professor for three years, avoiding any real contact with him at a face-to-face interview and deciding on his unsuitability without any real reasons, or some perfunctory reason that the application was incomplete because some incidental certificate was missing, and not informing him, is symbolic of a closed system that wants to exclude talent and new ideas.

It would appear that referees for key academic positions appointed from across the university system do not function independently. The vice chancellor cracks the whip, and the network goes into action. Very few academics stand up for what is right. This is roughly the fate of Prof. Hoole. Peradeniya University vacating him in 2008 appears to be part of the system hitting back at CIMOGG. During the JVP insurgency in the latter 1980s, the university system was generous towards academics having to take refuge overseas for reasons of security. There was less sympathy in the South towards Tamil academics in a similar plight.

Election and After: Dealing on Equal Terms

The VC election was due in 2017. Many felt that the candidacy of Prof. Sam Thiagalingam from Boston University was the kind of break the University badly needed. He was a well-established academic with a vision for a secular university and for using his contacts to participate in and raise standards in Jaffna. It evidently raised alarm in some quarters, particularly among those who wanted a closed, sectarian university. 

Vice Chancellor Arasaratnam led the rejection of Thiagalingam’s candidature on the grounds that his application arrived by post about a day after the closing date. Again, making up her own rules, she compared it with tender bids for procurement. Further, she said that Thiagalingam had not applied through his head of department and had not mentioned his citizenship. 

The postal rule was well established in this country by Chief Justice Basnayake’s ruling in 1957. It says proof of putting a letter into a post box, amounts to delivery. Time of delivery is the time of dispatch. This was known to persons in the university administration, but neither the law faculty in Jaffna, nor other lawyers from whom the University sought legal advice disclosed this. They could have easily found out. It took the persistence of two non-lawyers in the Council to search for it and declare it to the Council. Nevertheless, the Council decided to have the election without Thiyagalingam. This owes partly to the mendacity or incompetence of the UGC. 

After the meeting of 28th January, the Council was servile in calling for the UGC’s advice on Thiagalingam’s candidacy. UGC Secretary Dr. Priyantha Premakumara merely said that the University was not legally bound to accept applications that came after the closing date. This was contrary to the law of the land as set out by CJ Basnayake. The Vice Chancellor and Prof. Sivasegaram, went beyond Premakumara and did their scaremongering among council members who were very subservient to the UGC; they claimed that Thiagalingam’s candidacy was ‘illegal.’ The conspiracy succeeded.

The Hindu Faculty

Just before the VC election, in January 2017, the Council accepted plans for extending the current Department of Hindu Civilization to a Faculty of Hindu Studies. It was an identity project without real demand. The UGC’s Quality Assurance Review of 2010 said of the Department of Hindu Civilization at Jaffna University, “The quality of students… is unimpressive…The students who obtain high grades in Hindu Civilization and Hinduism at the G.C.E. A.L. Examination are not opting to study these subjects at the University.”

The project sought an expansion of academic cadre from 11 to 30 and student enrolment from the current 87 to 320 in five years. It also hoped to offer a Diploma in Astrology.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Vavuniya Campus

By October 2017 the Council had approved a plan for introducing a Faculty of Humanities in Vavuniya, as part of the plan to make the campus a university. In the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, from nil at present, the proposal aims for six senior lecturers and two professors by 2022.

The latter will be in addition to the five lecturers, including two recent doctorates, in Sociology and Anthropology; and six, including three with doctorates for History or Archaeology, in Jaffna. The department hopes to accommodate 142 students in four years by 2022.

One knows from practice that once the cadre positions are made available, they are likely to be filled in the usual way: take any favourite, give him or her an M. Phil from Jaffna, Vavuniya or any university that is not too fussy, and make permanent. As to what it would give the students, none other than, ironically, Prof. Balasundarampillai, delivered a severe indictment at a seminar in Jaffna during 2011, which was quoted widely in the press: “not a single candidate out of the 269 graduates who sat for the competitive examinations held recently for recruitment to the Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS) passed. The puzzle is that unemployed and under-employed youths of Jaffna (particularly graduates) are seeking jobs in the public sector that are beyond their capability.”

A Trojan Horse

A senior professor on the Council remarked, “They think that by making Vavuniya into a University, on the existing poor base, they could become professors and vice chancellors, but they are mistaken. They would quickly lose control.”

Vavuniya is in a region where we have grave unresolved problems related to militarisation and colonisation. We must deal with the Sinhalese and have them as partners in our institutions. But it should be on equal terms. By the way we have run Jaffna University, zealously keeping out merit and preventing the coming of people that would make us cosmopolitan in outlook, open to new ideas and ways, we have thrown away the opportunity to face the world as equals and with dignity. We can have a Hindu University to which there will be little resistance from our own politicians, the Government or the UGC, but it will be as a university that drives away merit, the kind of university never wanted by Hindus who must live here, many of whom long knew the value of a good education. That is the true significance of the Pyrrhic victory won by our establishment in getting rid of Prof. Thiagalingam for VC.

It is here that we have the most promising means to uplift the University. That is removing existing barriers against the significant number who have done well academically overseas and are looking for openings to help.

The late Dr. Rajani Thiranagama stood for a Jaffna University that upholds the highest academic and ethical standards, is open to the world, would lend a hand to those in distress and would stand with dignity before all. Ironically, a dominant section of the University has fought a battle against her memory, and a vice chancellor in 2014 stopped the commemoration of her 25th anniversary in the University. It signifies the legacy we are up against.

*The three parts of this article are based on the paper submitted by the authors for the seminar on “Problems of Higher Education in Sri Lanka” held under the auspices of the Ecumenical Institute for Study and Development (EISD), Colombo, on 18th and 19th November 2017.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    7

    I will not waste time on the Hooles’ narrative.
    *
    My differences with people in any university were never personal.
    The issue regarding teaching human rights referred to here was not about the usefulness or otherwise of teaching something. It was about teaching something outside the syllabus and examining students on it. To me that is unacceptable.
    There is always room to start teaching a topic and get covering approval before the examination. That was not done either.
    Importantly, I was not alone in objecting. There were several others who were very upset and spoke out. It was also the view of the Faculty Board.
    As for SRH Hoole’s failure to be appointed, I have good reason to believe that proper procedure was adopted.
    *
    As for the candidacy of Sam Thiyagalingam, the Council was overwhelmingly against accepting a late application in breach of institutional procedure. The UGC was asked to make a ruling and it stood by the decision of the Council
    I will not go into the foul mouthing of people that went on in these pages, including four candidates. But after the present VC was appointed, I was surprised by the stunning silence from campaigners for Sam T. When I commented on that silence on CT, I had the following cynical response from one of the ardent campaigners for Sam T:
    “Mission accomplished”.
    That was most revealing.
    *
    I wonder if Sam T learned as much as I did.

    • 11
      3

      It is 9:20 pm I am driving to Jaffna from Colombo and just saw this from this congenital liar.

      .The course was titled Practices in Software Engineering. It had diverse topics including how to set up a consultant practice. One syllabus line/topic approved by the Faculty Board and the Senate read “The Software Engineer and Society.”

      Sivasegaram and three professors in the habit apparently of reading my exam papers complained The VC came to the Faculty Board and explained that after approving the line they cannot complain. They persisted and carried it to the Council. The inquiry cleared me and Dr praised me for the modern training I gave my students

      This guy is a poor loser! Tomorrow after reaching Jaffna and resting I will reproduce the relevant praise from the Council report.

      • 1
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        Do not read email while driving. Not safe.

        • 2
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          Nor do I

      • 8
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        The inquiry based on the charges of four professors (Sivasegaran, Gunawardena, Seneviratne and Ranaweera) was conducted by Harendra Dunuwille, one-time Mayor of Kandy and Peradeniya Council Member.

        The part I enjoyed was when Sivasegaram said human rights cannot be taught in the engineering curriculum. Mr. Dunuwille asked him “Can you give me the rule?” Sivasegaram could not understand and asked him “What do you mean?” Dunuwilla, being the lawyer he is, said “You know, like in such and such a rule book, chapter such and such, rule such and such.” Sivasegaram’s jaw dropped. He as usual thinks everything he thinks is an absolute rule that must be obeyed. It is a memory I cherish.

        Here is the conclusion of the Dunuwille report:
        It should be noted that the role of the universities today is much wider than in the days of Sir Ivor Jennings. The demands of society too are very different to what they were half a century ago … An enlightened and liberal approach is very necessary to lift the quality of those that go through the portals of our seats of higher learning, making them employable and competitive with graduates of other universities, both local and foreign. Students must cross departmental and faculty boundaries in order to get an all-round education … The benefits of such interaction are so multi-faceted that they need no elaboration.”

        • 2
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          How cynical it appears that Sivasegaram was placed on Prof. Hoole’s selection panel, after being informed of the conflict of interest. One could imagine how the panel discussion went. Vasanthy Arasaratnam would have sat smiling like the cat who licked the cream. Sivasegaram who is never lost for words would have held forth on the undesirability of Hoole. Dean Atpu, would have smirked and the others would have signed simply on the dotted line.

          Vasanthy’s style was very successful where she was concerned, but ruinous to the University. Every new faculty needs persons of character and vision to build it up – persons whom the others would trust unreservedly. Young people coming back with PhDs from abroad are usually good material. But when they are not encouraged to think and act independently and are simply expected to follow the line of their peers and sign on the dotted line, quality drops and the Faculty is doomed. Those who tamper with selection processes would also tamper with marks, which creates the atmosphere of suspicion and lack of trust that is prevalent in the University.

          • 0
            1

            Poor Ruban,
            Do not insult people because they do not sign on ‘your dotted line’.
            Hoole knows exactly why he was rejected and why his appeals to the USAB failed.
            Dare him to place it before his readers.
            But he indulges in “post-truth” and blames others: some like to believe his tales.

    • 9
      0

      Oh, come on! The way UofJ Council behaved was pathetic. They had a search committee which did no searching. If I remember right, the husband of the chair of the search committee was a candidate fòr the post! Some of the members of Council, who were also candidates for the post were part of the process that decided to exclude the external candidate. Members of Council should be ashamed. But then the whole underlying motivation was to keep outsiders out, wasn’t it? It is the UofJ Council which should be gloating: “mission accomplished”. But then UofJ has a bright future, I’d say, going by the several grams of holy ash the present Vice Cancellor sports on his forehead! God will respond to the weight of tbe substance (“manthiramaavathu niiru” — magic, does ash), even though the outspoken defender of status quo of decision making processes there is a non-believer, I am told.

    • 1
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      You idiot forgot at the time of assessing this candidate that his application was late. You are given a bone to fight later. Better you check whether you have both testis within your pants. If not get some androgen.

      Rama

    • 5
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      A VERY ARCHAIC notion of education Sir. The Millenium Development Goals (UN) specified additions to every tertiary education syllabus before 2000 A. D. for it to be viable in the new millenium.

      That course was in fact one of the best courses in my university experience and a sea change. We Tamil students and Sinhalese students had to stand up and defend each other’s human rights in case studies in that class. Prof. Hoole corrected every single case study we wrote even for grammar explaining to us how it should be written. Before that class we hardly mixed with the other ethnicities at Peradeniya. Now we see from a national perspective. We can now argue our cases legally.

      As head of CS Prof. Hoole had every right to decide the syllabus. Why are you into Prof’s business all the time?

      Prof. SJ’s comment is too narrow for anybody who fancies himself a graduate. He needs to update himself on modern engineering curricula. He should sit in Prof. Hoole’s Engineering and Society class.

      It would be a sea change for you Sir SJI promise.

      • 3
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        Thank you. This means a lot to me.

      • 0
        0

        Sorry mate, K’mini
        There are institutional ways of doing things.
        No HoD has the authority to decide a syllabus. (It is particularly risky in a system where any academic cowboy can be made HoD).
        An HoD can propose, but the Faculty Board decides syllabi subject to Senate approval.
        *
        A University Department, I regret to say, is not anybody’s fiefdom.
        Intellectual slaves and slave-owners, I concede, may think differently.

        • 1
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          This is typical Sivasegaram – truthful but designed to mislead.

          It is true as Sivasegaram says that “No HoD has the authority to decide a syllabus. …An HoD can propose [a syllabus] but the Faculty Board decides syllabi subject to Senate approval.”

          In saying “A University Department … is not anybody’s fiefdom” he is saying the truth but implying the untruth that I treated my department as such and wrote syllabi the way I liked.

          Here is the syllabus I drafted for Practices in Software Engineering which was amended on 22 May 2000 by the Engineering Faculty Board and approved by the next meeting of the Senate without further changes:

          472 Practices in Software Engineering

          Computation with various packages and languages. Creating menu-driven packages. Computation in various branches of engineering – load-flow studies, optimisation, fuzzy logic, neural networks, digital signal processing, graphics processing, finite element studies, recursion, nonlinearity and network analysis. Software Development and industrial consulting, including documentation, proposals, budgets, reports and presentations. The Software Engineer and Society (60 hours of lectures and 60 hours of course work).

          Sivasegaram was a member of the Faculty Board which approved it with amendments and the Senate that approved it without further changes at the next meeting.

          These four jokers who charged me slept through these meetings and then argued at the inquiry that the syllabus was not detailed enough. Now Sivasegaram without saying it implies that the Faculty Board and Senate did not approve the syllabus. If he is being truthful, it means that Peradeniya syllabi need no approval from anyone!

          As I said, he is a congenital liar. It is typical behaviour by one who before Council meetings uses the university guest house without making any payment.

          • 0
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            It was a general comment.
            If the cap fits any he/she can have fun wearing it.

          • 0
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            Dr Jeevan Hoole,
            .
            “truthful but designed to mislead”
            .
            A useful skill.

  • 6
    0

    We have been through enough distractions about the Jaffna College and Parameshwara College takeovers not raised in the article. Let us have some straight answers. It was the JUSTA report that led to the Grievance Committee. Were those cases so trivial that the University could simply ignore pleas for justice from its own alumni? Ravivathani’s case was in the report. The Supreme Court considered her plea serious enough to give it leave to be heard. How about the University? The young woman has spent a good deal of money going to court and has been left despondent with the matter remaining unsettled. Does not the University have some responsibility to see that its alumni are treated fairly so that they would be proud of the institution and will remain loyal to it?

    Regarding the young woman candidate for financial management who has done brilliantly in the CIMA and is a fully fledged Financial Analyst; and could get a lucrative consultant’s job just for the asking: Could we drive such people away simply to accommodate a favourite somewhat low in the local merit list? Are we really committed to giving our students the best training available?

  • 2
    0

    I graduated from Jaffna. My time in Jaffna is highlighted in this article. Thanks for documenting that period.
    Even though I graduated from 7000th ranked University in the world, I worked with few academics and many graduates from elite universities in the world. I’m the weakest link in our team is another story but the point is like me so many of my buddies are still chucking in where ever we ended up in our random walk. So what we learned in Jaffna is not a total lost. But I agree with some points the authors are highlighting.

    What we hear about the unfair treatment for your brother not right. His unfair situation is a social issue. Same reason can be given for rejecting the VC applicant from Boston. I personally believe that Jaffna community is not ready to work with “outsiders”. Here you have to understand that we are still dealing with a community that lived through a ruthless war for 30+ years.

    Another issue is about the selection of the “manager”. I believe you have to judge the manager’s achievements with others in the same time frame. It seems he has good social skill sets to become a department head, dean and then a top 3 VC candidate. So many staffs are still supporting him right? But you are arguing that person shouldn’t be hired in the first place. Your argument is weak at this stage after what he has achieved in the last 20 years. Perhaps he was not an academic superstar but a social Cinderella? Your assumption that top student in every batch should get an academic position is a myth. I guess you never worked in private sector. I believe performance based job security and allowance has to be introduced to academics in SL.

    • 4
      1

      The selection of Manager is open to question all the way. The schedule was biased towards him. That Ganeshananthan who topped the 1992 batch and had a full year’s teaching experience was not indicated in the schedule (he was given only six days teaching experience). Sithamparanathan had about six months from about May 1996 to the time of the interview, which too was not indicated. Manager had at best a few weeks of teaching experience. The schedule says he was a visiting instructor in 1995, which does not count for teaching experience and that he was the third year batch-top. How and on what basis he was assessed superior to the other candidates, especially the one with a year’s teaching experience, and others perhaps higher on the merit list, is not at all clear.

      As for his capabilities, the 2014 JUSTA report clearly describes the deliberate downgrading of merit by him to advance favouritism and entrench himself in power. It was definitely a bar to quality in the faculty, which he tried to counter by large numbers of ‘research’ papers. However several young members of the staff have returned after qualifying abroad and things are bound to change, despite Manager’s practices like bringing acolytes. including one who taught in his tutory, onto the academic staff. Despite all his efforts he just managed to scrape through as dean for the third time.

      Another thing to note is his astounding 70+ papers, mostly in predatory journals and not even one in the ISI index. This is what he has achieved in the past 20 years? Inculcating a culture of academic fraud! It is said he deserves a place in the Guinness Record.

  • 10
    0

    Makes you a bit angry, does it not Rama? The late application WAS opened, assessed and scores submitted by the Council sub-committee. Why did they open the application if sticking to rules of deadline was so important? No Sir, they knew just two days postal delay at Christmas time is no big deal when considering such an important appointment. But then the true colours began to come out. “How can some outsider come and boss over us in our Holy land they wondered. This guy went away and did stuff called research. Oh no. This guy may not have the same beliefs as us. He might not know that it is bad omen if a cat crossed the road from left to right, but OK if it went from right to left! How can we avoid him and keep it in the family”, they reflected, and thought of the date stamped on the envelope. EurekAlert! Let us preserve our age old values of telling the future from the direction of travel of cats, Rama. Yeah, makes you angry, does it not? Me too.!

    • 0
      0

      Rose
      Your are twisting the story. The validity of an application is decided by the Council and not any committee.
      The Council stood by the rules. The UGC endorsed that position.
      But Sam T’s campaigners went on attacking all an sundry in CT pages even after the election.
      *
      They fell silent when, after some delay, someone got appointed as VC by undue influence.
      When asked why, the reply was “Mission accomplished”.
      That spoke volumes.

      • 5
        1

        SJ: I don’t understand. Are you claiming the present VC was appointed be undue influence (you say “someone got appointed” but surely you know who this is; you say “influence” but don’t say what the source of this influence was)? Please tell us more. This is interesting.

        • 1
          1

          Rose
          I dislike tutoring.
          Search and thou shall find.

      • 1
        0

        SJ,
        .
        “They fell silent when, after some delay, someone got appointed as VC by undue influence.
        When asked why, the reply was “Mission accomplished”.
        That spoke volumes.”
        .
        Thank you for remembering.
        .
        “But Sam T’s campaigners went on attacking all an sundry in CT pages even after the election.”
        .
        I may have been misunderstood. I opposed three candidates but did not promote Sam very much because I decided it was pointless.
        .
        I made a call to continue with another mission against the three candidates. As you must have noticed there is now a mission against the Manager.

        .

        • 0
          1

          LW
          You were one of the more civilized ones that I had to deal with, although I did not like the way the campaign went. Having got sucked in, I stayed the course to the very end. It was a lesson on our social media culture.
          *
          Campaigns on these pages have hidden agendae which one does not spot easily.
          There are nasty attacks on several people who cannot defend themselves against mud slinging.
          I restricted myself to one set of attacks. They were of little relevance to the theme and somewhat uncharacteristic of the first author, although he is perhaps upset with my exposing his economy with the truth in a few occasions..

  • 0
    0

    The last paragraph says it all.
    Rajani Thiranagama’s assassination is tragic. UTHR (Jaffna Branch) quite rightly deplored it. But UTHR started USING the sad episode as a propaganda tool to curry favour with international media. Evidently in 2014, UTHR strove to commemorate the event. Remember this was MR regime and GA Chandrasiri was the Governor. Even a demented donkey will know how GA C put down dissent. The VC at time foresaw the potential carnage and refused permission. The same demented donkey will suggest that UTHR was/and still exploiting the tragic event. Hoole was in a win-win. The VC refusal is a win and if the commemoration did result in a carnage Hoole will have material for a book perhaps.
    They say “It ain’t over till (until) the fat person sings”. Hoole sings the Prof Hoole episode. Evidently Prof Hoole was NOT selected for a chair in Computer Science. The man applies for a Senior lectureship position but was rejected again. The demented donkey will ask “What did he expect?”. Prof Hoole is no fool (We hope so!). His intention is to milk political capital.
    Your slip is showing Hoole.

    • 2
      2

      RP
      UTHR(J) did very good work for some time in Jaffna. The name was hijacked after the UTHR(J) withered and used for purposes other than human rights.
      I said this two decades ago and there was no response but for a personal threat a few years after by the ‘other member’ at the time.
      Before that, around 1990, a Tamil journal from London was held back for longer than an year by an interested party because parts of an invited review of “The Broken Palmyrah” did not please someone associated with the publication of the book.
      Finally the review appeared, but only after the person concerned quit the team of the journal. No one dared to challenge the views expressed by the critic though.

    • 3
      2

      K Pillai

      Are you jealous of Rajan Hoole? Rajani Thiranagama’s 25th anniversary was for the first time organized in 2014. What was wrong in organizing it at the place where she served? If you have the ability, try to write better and more books than Rajan Hoole. Your envy is obvious in these pages. Vasanthy Arasaratnam is a shameless bootlicker.

      • 1
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        “Jealousy” is an overused substitute for weak arguments.
        I know of characters who have got plenty of mileage out of it, but not for long.
        It does not fool too many for too long.

      • 1
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        Nithi ~ “…….What was wrong in organising it at the place where she served?………..”.
        Was politics behind it?
        The demented donkey will say ‘The organisers knew that it was win-win. It was unethical to use Rajani – insult’.
        Dissent is not necessarily jealousy or envy. The demented donkey does not agree with the Retired DIG Edward Gunawardena’s book on Burning of Jaffna Library. Carlos Fonseka agreed – he got to head SLMC. The demented donkey is not jealous but Carlo was cunning.
        An aside: Prof Hoole and Carlos are bosom pals

  • 6
    4

    Ratnajeevan
    Now your big brother is doing your dirty work.
    You know well why you were rejected. But you blame it on others. Your claims about your Christianity being the reason fell flat as you could not produce any evidence. Now you make stories about how Prof. Siva singlehandedly kept you out. Everyone who knows Prof. Siva knows that, unlike you, he is not vindictive.
    You have trouble coming to terms with the succession of failures of your projects to control Jaffna University. Then you tried unsuccessfully to destroy it. At last, you made a man of your choice VC by foul means. He may or may not succeed in ruining the University. However, you seem bitter about his failure to deliver your goods and emerging signs of your losing your grip on him.
    You made enemies everywhere you went and you are the only senior academic that I know of who was served with a vacation of post notice.
    Despite your claim that you are God’s gift to mankind, no university in Sri Lanka will touch you with a bargepole.
    Ask yourself why?
    It cannot be others that are to blame all the time.
    Incidentally, you were supposed to be in Sri Lanka on leave from Michigan. When are you returning, that is in case you are still wanted there?

    • 2
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      Siva Siva, What guru pakthi.

      Like guru, like sishya- confounding moral distinctions.

      Dengue, Malaria and now goes Jaffna University infected by Peradeniya Eng.

      We have seen both men in action. We can decide for our ourselves!, Thanks Fagin!

  • 0
    2

    I await with interest for what the author of the article has to say.
    Does he still stand by his allegations against Dr Sivasegaram?
    If so, will he kindly come up with credible evidence, if possible from UoJ Council minutes to which he seems to have access.

    • 2
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      The allegations are spot on. They are the absolute truth.

      I do not know about the “author of the article” but I know Sivasegaram (like all who know him do) to be a very difficult man who shouts at meetings, lies in this forum [see my response above to his comment on Kathirkamini], does not allow others to speak, approved for himself a teaching position while a member of the Council, and uses university facilities without payment.
      He is so obstreperous that the only way others at the Council have learnt to shut him up to give others a chance to speak is to tell him openly to shut up and even call him a bugger. It seems to work. Till then, he was taking up 50% of Council time.

      • 0
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        When Hoole calls anyone a liar, he is desperate for company.

        • 0
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          SJ are other people too calling you a liar? And Prof. Hoole is seeking their company? That is what your comment implies.

          SJ suffers from TRUMPISM*

          *Definition of a word which only applies to the Trump universe. Often meaning the exact opposite of the dictionary meaning.
          A fair article is even handed.
          Trumpism fair article is one which praises Trump.(just read his comments about articles)
          Truth is that which is true.
          Trumpism true is whatever Trump currently wants to be true.(see rally at Pheonix and comments about the lying media and ‘failing’ NY times)

          Just substitute SJ for Trump. You will agree unequivocally.

          Sorry mate. This is what happens to academics isolating themselves in their ivory Towers. We used to once call the phenomenon SIVASEGARISM in desperation after every Faculty Board Meeting!

          Prof. Hoole “Keep your breath to cool your porridge” at the EC. The country needs you there.

          • 0
            0

            Melani
            You need some serious language training.
            *
            The EC porridge is already cold.
            Hoole himself had denounced the EC as ineffective long ago.
            Think of some other game.

      • 0
        0

        SRHH: Who called him a “bugger” in Council and how do you know this?

        • 1
          1

          Kiruba
          Perhaps someone who indulges in b****ry.
          *
          BTW, “bugger” was a common substitute for fellow in the days of English medium school education. Most users did not know the meaning of b****r.

          • 1
            0

            It takes a bugger to identify another

            • 0
              0

              Pulley
              Are you saying that the one who called a Council colleague a b****r is a real b****r?
              Great. Thanks.

        • 0
          0

          Kiruba
          Did you seriously expect an answer?
          How can one expose a source who indulges in b****y?

      • 0
        0

        Some swear in court on the holy book that everything that they say is nothing but the truth– does one believe a word of what they say under oath?
        *
        There is no absolute anything in real life, least of all truth.

    • 2
      0

      SJ, you are Sivasegaram writing in this pseudonym.

      • 0
        0

        Congratulations!
        When did you start reading these pages?

      • 3
        0

        Fagin, aka SJ, aka Sivasegaram aka K. Pillai

        • 0
          0

          Pulley
          Great work. Apply to join the Pink Panther team. It is time that Inspector Clouseau had a successor.
          *
          Thanks too, as at long last I am having amusement here.

  • 4
    0

    Four members of the present university council told me that Prof Sivasegaram does not allow anyone to speak at the meetings.

    • 3
      0

      Guys like us, who live so far from you (it seems almost another country) could adopt an attitude of indifference to what happens up there, and certainly, there is always a possibility of our getting our interpretations of what we read all wrong.

      But we do care. We are sorry for the mess that WE (not me personally, of course) have messed up your part of the country. Right now, it’s become even more difficult to comment using a tiny lap-top because of a power failure, with today being the rainiest of days.

      *

      Just as I think that all War Excesses ought to be investigated, so I also think it tragic that a fair round of interviews was prevented owing to exploitation of a petty legality re. the selection of Vice-Chancellor.

      *

      About that syllabus: Prof. Sivasegaram himself is so versatile, an encyclopaedia of knowledge. Why does he make it difficult for today’s students to acquire that same versatility?

      *

      We, Sinhalese, may have wronged you. Why must you, in the North, wrong one another?

      • 0
        0

        SM
        Your language is hard to decode at times.
        *
        One does not object to teaching anything. But there are ways to set about it.
        Syllabi are somewhat flexible; and institutions have fairly simple mechanisms to introduce changes.
        To teach something not in the accepted syllabus and examining on it is not right; it makes a bad precedent.
        As a teacher with years of experience behind you, you will appreciate that .
        It is not a matter of content but conduct.

    • 0
      0

      Sin o
      Thanks.
      I am beginning to enjoy this after the post VC election boredom.
      According to your sources, the Council minutes must be carrying only the Thoughts of Comrade Siva.

  • 0
    0

    Plato,
    You posed a question in Part 1 about the fixer who prevented Sam Thiagalingam from being considered. CT does not allow me to copy the link, but you could find the feature on 17th February 2017 by searching under Thiagalingam’s name. On 27th January the three members of the evaluation committee opened the applications, which had arrived about ten days earlier and unanimously scheduled Thiagalingam as a contestant. The next day Sivasegaram reversed his position and talked about ‘legally acceptable’ reasons to reject Thiagalingam. The VC meanwhile talked about rejecting tender applications which do not arrive by the closing date. When Sivasegaram talks about law, it is mind boggling to follow his logic. What does this have to do with tenders that are opened on the dot? These applications were opened more than a week later. We wanted suitable applicants and unlike in the case of a tender no unfairness was caused to any applicant by including Thiagalingam, and the University stood to gain.

    I am sure all this was thrashed out by the evaluation committee with Sivasegaram present and agreeing unanimously.

    What made him change his mind the next day? What made him go further later and intimidate council members that to consider Thiagalingam was illegal. You can now answer your question. It is all very sad for a man who once enjoyed high respect among the students.

    Rather than focus on an individual, one needs to ask why the Council failed and why the University failed? This cannot happen if there are real scholars around rather than persons obsessed with counting papers and points of dubious worth.

    • 0
      0

      CO
      The Council decided based on establishment code.
      The UGC endorsed it.
      *
      All else is irrelevant.

      • 5
        0

        That’s quite irresponsible and insensitive. Council had the opportunity to attract a wide field and try to bring fresh talent. They didn’t care. After all their subcommittee (search) had as chair the spouse of one of the candidates. Basically it was a case of “we know best, outsiders not welcome” attitude. Insensitive because all the unions, representing the foot-soldiers wrote to ask that a wider field of candidates be considered. Council ignored that plea — didn’t even bother to reply to them. Such arrogance! This is not about an individual member of Council writing here semi-anonymousely. The thoughts of a single member are irrelevant. The entire Council of the University should take responsibility and feel ashamed. Talented people and well- wishers of the university are quite disappointed at the narrow minded thinking and behaviour. There was, some years ago, someone who left a good job elsewhere and returned and served in Jaffna (NOT Hoole). After some years of trying, he left in utter frustration. He met my late mother just before leaving the country and has said to her: “it is impossible to work WITH the Jaffna man”. That was her strongest ammunition to stop me from returning to SL / Jaffna, very shortly after the end of the war in 2009. I saw the point she made being played out over this VC appointment: such narrow mindedness and extreme arrogance. Sad.

        • 0
          0

          R
          It is the responsibility of the applicant to deliver the application in time.
          I cannot understand why he did not use a more reliable method.
          *
          Bending rules is dangerous.
          The very people shedding crocodile tears (I say this because they stopped crying foul when they got their man in as VC) could turn round and blame the Council for breaching rules.
          You cannot win.
          So it is good to play by the rules.
          *
          It may be worth your finding out how the UoJ has performed in the past few years, despite efforts to wreck it; compare with its past; and then comment.
          I am very impressed with some faculties.

          • 3
            0

            SJ, You being impressed with some faculties has no bearing on the discussion. So, let us remain relevant to the subject.
            ____
            Applicants have no responsibility to ‘deliver’ . Their responsibility is to ‘post’. If the mail has a posted date, that is evidence of the responsibility taken by the applicant.
            ____
            It is good to play by the rules. It is even better to serve the objective.
            ____
            A provenly suitable candidate need not be overlooked on the basis of the ‘delivery’ date, – a date that is not within his powers.
            ____
            Your emphasis on playing by the rules speaks of a desire to earn a name for yourself; not a thirst to hire the best man available.
            ____
            See if making a decision based simply on rules is to the benefit of the Faculty. I am sure you know that exception to rules where applicable is a sign of wisdom.
            ____
            The impression I get of you is that you want to be correct, not right!

          • 3
            0

            SJ: Great that you are impressed with some Faculties, but that is perhaps a biased view because you are a member of the University Council. Is it possible to point to any *independent* evidence of impressive performance compared to the past? Of course the physical environment is better than it was in the past because kittu and pottu are not loitering around their common rooms and hostels looking for rebels to tie to lamp posts.

          • 0
            5

            No other university in the country has been targetted for bitter attack even a fraction as much as the UOJ; and it is not hard to guess why.
            If the purpose is to endlessly find fault with the UoJ, one is free to do so; we cannot do much about it.
            Those who wanted to wreck UoJ achieved limited success– but overall they failed.
            *
            The change in impression about the UoJ in the UGC and leading universities is something worth going by.

            • 6
              0

              SJ
              We have to thank organizations like the JUSTA for bringing to light the corruption in appointments. Other universities in the country and organizations like FUTA and the teachers who are struggling for academic freedom and increased funding for higher education and those who are fighting against privatization of education should start recording the malpractices that happen at other universities. Fortunately, Jaffna has some courageous academics who are concerned about their university, students and the Northern province.

            • 7
              0

              SJ: is that the best you have? That “U of J has been attacked more than others” as evidence that it is doing fine! There is nobody attacking the institution. Criticisms are of the actions of senior people there, and are (except in some cases) from severel of us, well wishers of the institution, who have the interest of the university and the community around it at heart. Sad you cannot see that.

              • 0
                1

                Amalan
                I know who cares and who does not, but I will not go into personalities.
                Rose
                Good to know that you are a well wisher. Even the proverbial monkey that split the head of the king was. Wishing well has to be supplemented by positive action and not piling abuse on people.
                *
                Most efforts here were to muddy the reputation of the UoJ and settle personal scores.
                Thankfully the UoJ survived much of the mischief ranging from tale-carrying to the powers that be to cheap mud slinging.

                • 0
                  0

                  Minkey analogy uncalled for, inspector!

  • 3
    0

    I think people are wasting their energies re-litigating old quarrels.

    Meanwhile, there are Indian kids as young as 13, home-schooled, brought up in the US and Canada, who teach themselves software and sciences and become leading figures in AI, etc. It has been reported that one of them, Tanmay Bakshi, has been given a $1.25 million annual package by Google to work there.

    In the face of such trends happening all over the world, maybe Jaffna should focus on teaching computers and software to kids very early, and then nurture the gifted & talented to develop on their own, without waiting for them to take the traditional university path. Dr. Jeevan Hoole may be well-placed to start such a program for the gifted and talented (G/T) in software engineering and AI, at say Jaffna College

    The college has a history of preparing students for external degrees and certifications; it also carries the name Jaffna, so it can be the flagship of such a program and attract Diaspora support.

    Start with 5–10 kids and see how such a program develops. Such a program may well grow and put the Computer Science programs at universities to shame, and people can let go of their obsession with the shenanigans at Jaffna university. Starting such a G/T program will require the consent of the Ministry of Education, as well as persuasion of parents. I believe it is doable and worthwhile.

    • 0
      0

      Agnos,
      .
      “I think people are wasting their energies re-litigating old quarrels.”
      .
      I agree. I reiterate my call to do some cleaning that is badly needed. The Manager has received some attention but what about the other two internal candidates? Maybe we can start using code names “Statistician” and “Post Graduate”?
      .
      “Dr. Jeevan Hoole may be well-placed to start such a program for the gifted and talented (G/T) in software engineering and AI, at say Jaffna College”.
      .
      I maybe totally wrong but based on what I know on Jaffna College the last thing they want is a person like Dr Jeevan Hoole.
      .

  • 3
    0

    Financial Management
    In the selection of Probationary Lecturer in Financial Management, the selection committee is reportedly evenly balanced on whether or not to take the candidate from Sri Jayewardenapura who has shown striking attributes and has shone in the commercial world.
    Also, reportedly, what is being held against her is that she has no research publications unlike the candidate preferred by the Dean. The compulsion on young graduates and undergraduates in Jaffna to churn out research papers and establish pretentious distinctions stands in the way of more thoughtful and mature research.
    As for quality you only need to look at what their peers produce. This culture of pretentious research was given a new boost by Vasanthy Arasaratnam. This is why one needs to be very careful about selection. A person’s degree gives a fair idea of his or her future research potential. The young lady from Sri Jayewardenapura, with her qualifications and maturity in the commercial world has excellent potential for first rate research. We have instead celebrated quantity with almost total disregard for quality. It looks as though the Vice Chancellor will cast the deciding vote, which would also say a good deal about his leadership.

  • 7
    0

    I know several academics attached to the various departments of the Faculty of Arts, University of Jaffna whose publications are poor in quality, let alone the rampant plagiarism one sees in them. The selection panel should carefully review the publications. Our university system should involve more people (having only one person who knows the subject is not enough; nor would it make the process fair and transparent) who are qualified in the relevant subject in the interview and evaluation processes. Allowing the Head of the Department or Dean or VC to have the final say in the matter is dangerous. Why can’t our universities invite qualified professors and lecturers from other universities to serve on the selection panels that recruit lecturers. In a proper system, the administrative heads would have very minimal say in matters related to academic recruitment. I know a procedure of this kind is followed when candidates for professorship are interviewed. Given the incestuous nature of some of our dons at Jaffna University and other universities (they only recruit their own students), academics from other universities should be invited to serve on selection boards. Publications of the candidates should be reviewed carefully by people who are qualified in the field.

    • 3
      0

      Aathi,
      You have raised some crucial points which one hopes the selection panels and the Council would take seriously. It is sadly true that selectors and academics merely count the number of papers and are unconcerned about quality.
      Sometimes even a cursory check says a lot. It is not hard to find applicants for probationary lecturer applying with numbers of publications that would be the envy of a professor or senior lecturer. It is not rare to encounter rates of production of papers at around one a week during certain periods.

      An important reason why academics and professors promote and maintain this system is that it facilitates inbreeding. No outsider applying can match in paper production the prolific character of insiders. Like student – like professor and the system remains in the same rut. One would also inevitably see a lot of cut and paste.

      Also in financial management, the impression may have been given that the competition is between the Dean’s favourite and the young lady outsider. There are also several local applicants higher on the merit list than the Dean’s favourite.

  • 8
    0

    Concerned Observer,

    Given the criticism University of Jaffna has been facing for the past many years, the new Vice Chancellor should give importance to quality in recruitment. If this issue is addressed, Jaffna University, especially its Arts, Management and Commerce Faculties will flourish in a few years and produce scholarship that has quality, integrity and originality. The VC should not allow the culture which has encouraged young academics to see producing a paper per week as the pathway to get an academic position at the University of Jaffna. By giving importance to quality, Professor Vigneswaran could distinguish his administration from the administration of his predecessors like Professors Balasundarampillai and Vasanthy Arasaratnam. The rut you talk about is the work of pseudo intellectuals who climbed up the ladder through foul and deceitful means. Do we want this vicious cycle to continue and destroy the only university in the North and young scholars? Do we want a system that promotes plagiarism, a punishable offence all over the world? A lot of important work related to post-war development, reconciliation, self-determination in the North needs to be done by scholars who teach social sciences and the humanities at the University of Jaffna. If their articles are full of unacknowledged quotes taken from illegitimate sources like Wikipedia and poor quality blogs where every Tom, Dick and Harry write their random thoughts, how are they going to bring about changes in the larger community? Hope Professor Vigneswaran will put an end to this totalitarian, non-transparent, anti-intellectual culture in recruitment that has severely damaged the image of Faculties of Arts, Commerce and Management at University of Jaffna.

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