14 April, 2024


Standardisation – A Different Perspective From Dr. M.Y.M. Siddeek’s

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Dividing Histories

There was a Faculty Board Meeting once in Sri Lanka in the late 1990s. A brilliant Sinhalese scientist was praised for all the G.C.E. A. Level (AL) A-grades he got with admission to read engineering and for choosing instead to read science. A Tamil academic from the same batch as his openly disagreed, “All standardized A’s.” The allusion was to Sinhalese being given the grade of A with much lower than the customary 75 marks while Tamils were required to get much more; while Sinhalese passed with much lower than 40 marks while Tamils needed to score a lot more than 40 to pass. Another Sinhalese from the same batch vehemently denied that grades were meddled with. As tempers rose, Professor B.A. Abeywickrama (who headed the inquiry into allegations that Tamil examiners favoured Tamil students, and after inquiry dismissed those allegations) was fortunately present as the External Member of the Faculty Board. He said with his economic use of words, “Yes it happened.” The Board then moved on to other things.

That is human psychology. When a parent steals or commits some other wrong, the children have a way of believing otherwise. A father is always a loved hero. Likewise it is with communities. When a community advances at the expense of others, it always creates a false history to believe it acted honourably. That is the story of standardisation. That is why I find Dr. Siddeek’s narrative disturbing. The Faculty Board episode shows how divided we are on this subject with our own wishful histories.

My Personal Experience – Not Feeling Ceylonese

I sat the AL Exam in Dec. 1969 (with practical examinations in April 1970). Those were good days when education was a pleasant enterprise. I went for cricket and football in the neighbourhood during the first and third terms respectively. I borrowed a novel a day from the well-stocked Jaffna Public Library, especially during the second term when I had little interest in athletics. I did not go for a single tuition class because I knew some who had entered for engineering with IC 3S the previous year. I thought with upward standards, I could get 2C 2S and still make it. That seemed no problem. So I continued in my laidback lifestyle. I enjoyed life as any schoolboy should.

By June or so I got my admission with about 150 others to read engineering at Peradeniya. There were 103 Tamil medium students, 20 English medium students and 27 Sinhalese medium students. (My numbers may be slightly off since there were about 145 students at the cutoff mark, I recall, of 239, with 9 more at 238 taking whom would have broken the 150 limit for our only Engineering Faculty at Peradeniya then. So there was one list with 145 admissions and another with 154. The English medium would have contained all three communities, adding to the lack of exactness – Muslims, and third-shy Tamils and Sinhalese. Ours had the last batch of English medium students who were at their third and last shy for university admission. For the 1967 and previous ALs, since all science students sat in English, the question as to whether one was Tamil or Sinhalese never arose over admissions).

Previously Peradeniya’s engineering was split 50-50 between Sinhalese and Tamils. How can one community suddenly fare so much better, it was asked? There was a cry of foul. Tamil graders over-marked they alleged.

Mrs. Bandaranaike had just come in as Prime Minister in May 1970. She suspended our admissions and appointed a Royal Commission to go through the papers of us 154 who had been admitted. There was a nail biting wait. I feared the worst, thinking perhaps that Tamil examiners had indeed over-marked us! It was finally announced in the Daily News to my relief that there was no difference and if there was, Tamil examiners had been a little stricter.

That did not stop the allegations. The majority could not accept that they had not worked hard enough. If the examiners were fair, then Tamil lecturers at Peradeniya who routinely go home to Jaffna during the December vacation were alleged to have distributed questions to us. How else could Tamils fare better? Ratwatte, the PM’s brother, went on a protest march to Colombo. Posters appeared at Peradeniya saying that if we came there, the Mahaweli River would flow with our blood.

We were called cheats. It did not feel nice. I knew I did not get any questions before the exams. We did not feel Ceylonese with all these accusations. It rendered the nation into two.

There was silence from the government. September when we would have been asked to report at the university, came and went. The lists for the other faculties were not released. Then in December or so the bottom 44 of the 103 Tamils students – including myself – got a dirty-looking recycled piece of paper with a cyclostyled letter on which our names were written in ugly handwriting, asking us to report at the Ceylon College of Technology (CCT) in Katubedde to read for the “B.Sc. Eng. degree.”

The admission list had been redone adding 28 marks to the 4-subject aggregate of all Sinhalese students. Our places were taken by Sinhalese students allegedly because Sinhalese were disadvantaged vis-à-vis Tamils . A Sinhalese Permanent Secretary’s son from Colombo moved into Peradeniya because he was allegedly disadvantaged. A Tamil street sweeper’s son from Jaffna was moved out because he was allegedly advantaged!

Horrid Life at Katubedde

CCT had been the Institute of Practical Technology training post-OL Junior Technical Officers. It was upgraded to CCT with a post-AL 5-year “practical course” leading to a Diploma in Technology (DipTech) to produce “Engineers” who would not be science and design oriented like B.Sc. Engineers. The order of choice for students initially was: 1) Peradeniya Engineering 2) Physical Science and 3) DipTech (although the previous year choices 2 and 3 had switched). Among those of us who had been shifted, was one who had been offered DipTech, rejected it saying it was not good enough, got Peradeniya on his next shy and was shifted to DipTech with us!

My parents asked a Federal Party MP and relative, S. Kathiravelupillai, to file action under article 29(2) – no conferring on or derogating from a right or privilege without doing it to others. But it seemed that administrative action was out of the ambit of 29(2).

With trepidation therefore we reported to the CCT Registrar as asked. He was a jovial gentleman, Dharmarajah by name I think, out to have fun with us. We gave him our letter to report to him for reading for the B.Sc. Eng. Degree. He literally (but pleasantly, thankfully) threw the letters back at us saying “there is no B.Sc. Eng. Degree programme here.”

That is how our life began at Katubedde, a training ground for technicians who lacked the culture of a university. We alone had no identity card because no one knew what degree we were reading for. The hostel had room only for 2 of the 5 batches. The first DipTech batch was moving into its fifth year as we came into the first year. We studied the woefully inadequate DipTech syllabus. The lecturers lacked the qualifications expected of a university don. If anyone had the requisite qualifications, it was because he was senior and the one professorship in his department at Peradeniya was occupied and he could become a professor only by moving to CCT.

Katubedde was a badly developed town – we played on the Tamil version of the name, rendering it as kaattu (jungle) paththai (bush). The girls and even married women around were villagers who were so awed by university students that some (one too many) would willingly go to bed. Given their poverty, they would bathe by street pipes and, as we passed by, soap themselves vigorously, loosening their saris at the chest and giggling at us. Many a Tamil boy from a cultured home lost his head. A few were forced to marry women they had made pregnant.

Towards the end of our first year, CCT was absorbed into the University of Ceylon. The syllabi were upgraded. Staff not having the minimum qualifications required to teach at a university were given notice to move to government departments. The first batch got a B.Sc. Eng. Cey. Degree on a DipTech curriculum. Our first year courses were not rigorous, but the real engineering started in the second year and we had a full cohort of properly qualified lecturers by the third year.

We were now in a 5-year programme with one year’s industrial training. Our colleagues at Peradeniya would graduate a year earlier. We asked for the training to be done away with. The academic administration refused because “a practical degree” was the only thing it could claim over Peradeniya. We wanted an engineering science training. Finally the training was moved into our vacations. We who were in transition got out after four years and six months in June 1975.

But by then we had soured. It was a painful time. I took a week off every month and went home for nine days. The ticket by train each way was Rs. 9.90 which I made up from not having to eat in shops. Sympathetic instructors helped me make up my missed labs. A faithful friend made me a carbon copy of his notes. My parents did not object

Thank God that for us and for me it all ended well. Today Katubedde Campus, now University of Moratuwa, is rated higher and is the First Choice for AL mathematics stream students.

Personal Pain is Trivial

My pain made me feel really estranged from Sri Lanka. But I was fortunate enough to get a degree. Because Mrs. Bandaranaike stopped issuing passports to university graduates to make us all serve by compulsion for five years in exchange for our free education, I applied for my passport before graduation and left with bitterness as soon as I graduated. However, it was more than bitterness that made many of us leave. My younger brother with 2 As and pass grades in the other two subjects which I cannot remember, all on standardized marks, got nothing. With such brilliant grades he could not spend the rest of his life as a clerk or something. He needed admission to a university degree programme for which purpose my elder brother had already left the country. He and I together supported three bothers for their degrees in the UK. Despite Dr. Siddeek’s thinking, standardization kicked out of Sri Lanka many Tamils who would have contributed if we had been accepted as equal citizens.

As I said, we survived and still feel estranged. What then of the pain of the numerous others who were denied admission altogether? It cannot be trivialized as does Dr. Siddeek.


Dr. Siddeek says the Muslims also suffered. Many Muslims who were just short of the entry aggregate had sat in the English medium using the dispensation given to Muslims from the official languages Act. Badiuddin Mohammad was the Minister of Education. He was happily a tool of Sinhalese nationalism and in exchange was given a free hand to help his friends and relatives.

There was Muslim boy in our batch who had been admitted to read Physical Science even after meddling with our aggregates. No one knew exactly how Muslim aggregates were handled. He appeared at Peradeniya Engineering (which started months after we did) and was so discomfited by rumours about how he qualified, that he quickly appeared in our Katubedde class although he had missed a few months’ classes. We could not understand why he would turn down Peradeniya to be at Katubedde in the state it was in at the time.

Another student, a Muslim girl, was suddenly added to the National Diploma in Technology class as a person from a disadvantaged family. She came to class in a chauffeur driven Mercedes Benz. Sinhalese students who were justifying special places on grounds of disadvantage stoned her Mercedes Benz. I do not know whether she came after that.

1972 ALs Onwards: Double Barrelled Shots

The admissions for the 1970 AL too were done on a purely racial basis, but much more stringently. My batch in the list after meddling had some 64 engineering students out of the class of 150 at Peradeniya, and 44 Tamil students out of our class of 125 at Katubedde; the next batch had only 10 or so Tamils (my memory is failing me and I am really not sure if these 10 or so were at Peradeniya or Katubedde). This was racism pure and simple and had to be disguised in some form to save Sinhalese dignity.

By the 1972 AL the government got sophisticated through Secretary for Education Dr. Premadasa Udugama – an evil genius in the words of my uncle K. Nesiah who was Head of Education at Peradeniya. He explained to me that when students apply for admission in England to the same course of study having sat different subjects – say Arabic where the average is high and Latin where it is not – standardisation is used to scale the marks to make them comparable. The marks is scaled under standardisation using the mean and standard deviation SD to effect a fair comparison using the new standardized mark:

The result would make marks for both distributions have the same standard deviation and mean which the government set and wished to have. Udagama’s genius was in applying this legitimate scheme meant for comparing different subjects, illegitimately to the different media. Essentially his argument was that if Tamils and Sinhalese had different averages, it was because of errors in translation and grading, and this difference would be ironed out by standardisation. He ignored the Royal Commission Report and the different cultural values for education in the different communities. As a result, in subjects difficult to pass like physics in which the Sinhalese scored well below Tamils, for example, a Tamil A grade, that is a standardized mark of 75 or more, soon required a raw mark like 90 from Tamils. A pass taking a standardized mark of 40 needed a raw mark of 55 from Tamils. Sinhalese grades took raw marks of something like 60 and 25 for an A and D respectively (These example figures from physics in one year would have differed from year to year and from subject to subject).

The double-barrel shot was from media-wide standardisation and regional quotas.

Effect on Tamils: Elimination from University and Jobs Too

Regional quotas then helped a few people from backward regions to come in. That was positive and is used to defend the iniquitous scheme. Another excuse now for standarisation was that Tamil numbers in Arts degree programmes were increased because the Sinhalese did better. These arts programmes were in the local languages. Tamils have by and large seen these degrees as worthless. Thus the best Tamils did not do arts and the averages of those did would have been lower. As such Tamil arts students would have benefited when marks were standardized. It was a case of taking away something we prized and had earned, and giving us instead something we never wanted.

However, despite these excuses trotted out, it must be remembered that the purpose of meddling began with the 1970 admissions and was to keep Tamils out. After regional quotas, that meddling was given a human face but the original purpose – keeping Tamils out – was intact and still fulfilled.

Thus earlier, Tamils who lost their university places could go for jobs requiring only ALs or follow other studies like Accountancy with their AL certificates. But now, with the double-barrelled shot gun of standardisation and regional quotas, not only were they kept out of university but they were also robbed of their AL certificate when their raw pass mark got standardized into a fail mark. They could not go for jobs asking for ALs, or abroad for studies with their ALs. Nor could they make use of the new and expanding professional opportunities in studying Accountancy, Marketing and even CEI Engineering – all of which took ALs.

Is it any wonder that the Tamil youth were enraged? Even bad students who would never have entered the portals of our universities felt deprived.

Blackout and Ruination

K. Nesiah was a founder of the Tamil United Front (later the Tamil United Liberation Front, TUF/TULF). As their university teacher he could walk into any Director of Education’s Office at the Examinations Branch at Malay Street and get the shameful details of standardization for each year as Udagama fine tuned it. These details were then revealed in Parliament by FP MPs. To prevent the embarrassing leaks, a blackout was imposed on the Examinations Branch, especially on Nesiah. The result? Now officials could get anyone admitted to the universities by altering his or her marks while preventing an audit on the excuse of the blackout.

My father-in-law was an SLAS Officer working directly under Mrs. Bandaranaike as Deputy Director of Planning, working on the National Budget as an Economist. He was offered by friends to have my wife’s marks altered so she could enter for medicine. Through these sources she found out that her raw mark in Physics (giving her a pass) had after standardisation become just under 25. With the standardized mark, she had failed Physics. She was eligible for medical admission on the standardised marks aggregate, but was ineligible on the second requirement for those who had passed three subjects: that the score in the failed subject be at least 25. The offer to alter her marks was declined but the point is the fraud Mrs. Bandaranaike had unwittingly introduced into our previously sound and good system.

When the UNP would come back in 1977, we would be exposed to several newspaper reports of people who should never have been admitted (but had been through altered marks), graduated and gone abroad. Since they had passed the university exams after being improperly admitted, nothing could be done, especially when they could claim they had nothing to do with the mark alterations.


JR Jayewardene came into power promising human rights. As soon as he came into office he did sincerely abolish standardisation. In the interim Tamils had been targeting much higher marks because admissions policy for Tamils was so restrictive. When he removed standardisation, the Tamil share of admissions was far higher than ever before. There were street demonstrations by the Sinhalese. He quickly reversed policy and for that year said admissions would be done twice, by standardisation and by merit, and those on at least one of the lists would be admitted. Though better, it still meant that it was harder for a Tamil to get in. Thus began the practice of overcrowding our universities.

Deliberate Policy: A Broken People

Dr. Siddeek is right in saying that Tamils now (today) benefit from standardisation. Yes, it is true. We are a broken people. The war and migration, the loss of teachers and our own internecine killings have contributed to our downfall, aided by the government policy of making applied and pure mathematics in which we always did well into one subject. When standardisation was implemented, the marginalization of Tamils took effect to the point where we are completely fallen today. This has had long-term effects which make it difficult to climb up again. Academic standards at our universities are lax, and there are few faculty members who are able to lead the universities in research or uplift our students. This is the last nail in the Tamil coffin.

We have a new government claiming to practice Good Governance. We have an office of National Unity and Reconciliation. Will they do something or will they be happy to watch as we Tamils continue to wither?

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Latest comments

  • 3


    I thought I would respond to your comments because your comments are always sensible and reasonable.

    I do not believe it was cheating on a large scale. That year the Tamil students in Jaffna district hit the jackpot in the A/L tests.

    The syllabi for the pure and applied mathematics, physics hardly changed from 1960 to 1970. It was still SL Loneys Trigonometry and Nelkon and Pakers Physics text books. As Prof. Sivasegaram said the tuition masters in Jaffna may have honed their skills over the years to coach the students to do well in the tests.

    Just to give you an example in the 1969/70 A/L test for the first time the topic of vectors was introduced to the applied mathematics subject. My teacher in a Colombo school took a great effort in teaching this new topic to us and went to the extent of teaching vector cross product. Luckily just before I sat for the A/L in 1970/71, I came across a booklet which was put out by the Education Department that summarized the examiners (graders) comments on each and every question on the past exam. That booklet said the topic of vectors was introduced this year and the students are expected have a knowledge of only vector scalar products but many students had difficulty with question relating to vectors. Eureka! I did not have to study vector cross products. Tuition masters in North may have known about this and never burdened their students with topics in which they will not be tested. Education should be blamed for not disseminating the information to all the schools in the country.

    In Colombo and in the south the relative velocity problems were solved and explained in a very confusing manner depending on the teachers understanding on the subject. I was told that some tuition masters in the North had a very good understanding of the subject and were able to teach the students in a rote learning fashion to solve the exam problem without having a good understanding of the problem.

    As you said if the exam was repeated, the outcome could have proved something we are guessing right now.

  • 2

    Meanwhile our University (Jaffna) has recently advertised for its next Vice Chancellor.

    Sivasegaram, a member of our Council is on this forum, engaged in exchanges with Hoole who has multiple long running disputes with that institution: “Res ipsa loquitur”, “ditto” etc.

    Hoole himself, one time aspirant for the job (was even appointed to it), is shamelessly expressing his dirty imaginations about poor women bathing on the roadside. So much energy they are willing to spend on tiny details about student head count, soap and saree seen in 70, while the rest of us are like 16 going on 17.

    Beneath Hoole’s previous piece, Perinbam claims a relative who is on University Council has shown him details of meetings and encouraged him to write in this forum about Council deliberations. Perinbam’s attack on Thiruvaran (“former student, he helped you, how can you do this to your guru?” etc) was particularly nasty.

    It is not too difficult to guess who Perinbam is and who the supposedly outraged relative on Council is.

    Under these conditions, what chance does the University have of attracting a good field of capable applicants?

    Perhaps we should plead with Sivasegaram to ignore Hoole and focus on the future of the University. There is no need for a member of Council to engage in a detailed, public discussion with someone who is in dispute with the University. There is much work to be done at the institution.

    Perhaps we should plead with Hoole to get out of Jaffna — you had your chance (as coordinator of engineering) and you blew it. Either show some mercy on the environment in Jaffna and get back to the USA, or take Agnos’ good advice and work outside the university system if you are actually honest and serious about making a contribution in Jaffna. Much can be done from outside the university also.

    Perhaps we should plead with the “relative on Council” to respect confidentiality of deliberations at its meetings. If you are so outraged by the way things are done, just resign and then speak out in public.

    • 0

      Christmas tree
      Merry Christmas for you. This discussion is on the effects of standardisation and more importantly on improving national reconciliation.

      Can I ask you to wash the dirty linen elsewhere?

      • 0

        Ken Robert,

        “This discussion is on the effects of standardisation and more importantly on improving national reconciliation.”

        Thanks. I fully agree.

    • 0

      Christms Tree: “Perhaps we should plead with Hoole to get out of Jaffna”

      You sound just like those Sinhalese racists who tell Tamils who complain over discrimination to leave Sri Lanka.

      All communalists think alike.

    • 0

      Christmas Tree, whoever you may be, kindly note that
      1. As a member of a University Council I do not discuss Council, Senate or Faculty matters in public fora, even to ‘defend’ myself. Nor am in I the habit of selective or distorted leaking of proceedings.
      2. The matter under discussion does not concern the UoJ Council and my comment concerned looking at a serious issue in due perspective.
      3. I have not indulged in personal attack of any kind; and please let me know if I have used improper language in my criticism of the views expressed by others, and I will apologize unconditionally.

      As for the UoJ, my first formal involvement was to conduct visiting lectures in 2014– amid considerable commitments at Peradeniya –in a subject in which there still is serious dearth of staff.

      My nomination to the Council is still a mystery to me as I have never sought any position outside my academic career.
      Kindly identify the real culprit to me if you can, but not to my wife: although a non-violent person, I fear that she may kill him.

      I trust that there is still space for civilized, honest and good humored discussion in this forum.

      • 3

        Agree with all three. I am NOT accusing you of any of these. Still, I think it is be a good idea for a senior member of U of J governance to avoid engaging with Hoole, given his long running disputes with the University (even on topics unrelated to his serial disputes).

        • 0

          Thanks for your kindness.

          • 0

            That wasn’t kindness: either I am being as frank as you are, or just scared at the prospect of being killed by a usually non-violent wife!!

          • 0

            But you have not revealed the secret yet to fear for your life..

  • 1

    [Editor: I repeat my comment under my article on the UGC Chirman since it applies here too. Thank you]

    It has been suggested by one Ben that I am the only person repeatedly shouting about my D.Sc. degree. Perhaps so and with good cause. The ancient Nannool says one may boast when one in insulted in a forum (avai). How many other D.Sc. degree holders are told they are not qualified? I think I am the only one.

    Peradeniya (with the exception of a few like Sivasegaram) recognized my training in computing and asked me to found the B.Sc. Eng. Computer Science programme. However, Tamil people in Jaffna said I am not qualified in computer science. They persisted even after the USAB ruled in 2006 that I should be appointed as Professor of Computer Science. Now Sivasegaram, Arasaratnam and others (including my student Thiruvaran whom I carefully advised and nurtured on the request of common relations throughout his career in the electrical department at Peradeniya and helped obtain a full scholarship) say I am not qualified. They say I am not qualified to teach even electrical engineering. The absurdity of their position is underscored by my having a D.Sc. (Eng.) degree. Just because Ben et al. try to insult me, I am not going to stop saying their position is made all the more absurd because I have a higher doctorate and I am a Fellow of the IEEE.

    It has also been asked whether I have applied to other places for a professorship. I have had invitations to apply but I have not. For a Tamil from Jaffna at my age, it is natural to want to spend time in Jaffna (Deracinated expatriates will never understand this). When there are vacancies in Jaffna for which I am amply qualified (by my D.Sc. and Fellow grade in the IEEE I repeat), why would I want to live elsewhere? It is my right.

    Let me repeat, I am the first Sri Lankan to be invited to be a Fellow of the IEEE. My D.Sc.is from London, the university that pioneered and defined the D.Sc. and D.Litt. degrees as the first British research degrees (the D.Littl. followed the D.Sc. a few years later). London set rigorous examination standards to be followed by other universities, even Oxford and Cambridge, several decades later.

    The degree is now highly abused by universities which award the degree with much lower standards, and by holders of honourary higher doctorates unethically dropping the words Honoris Causa after the degree (an example is one of the persons cited by Ben as having a D.Sc.) and calling themselves Dr.

    London therefore stopped awarding the D.Sc. and D.Litt. degrees in the year 2001 as a result of this abuse. The UK Council for Graduate Education in its 2008 report bemoaned “the general lack of consensus across the sector in terms of understanding the nature of Higher Doctorate awards, at least in terms of common nomenclature and their place in relation to other kinds and levels of doctorate.” Oxford thereafter reviewed its higher doctorates and called for tighter standards.

    As far as I know, I am the only Sri Lankan holding the prestigious, pioneer London higher doctorate in science. (There may be one other who likely is no longer a Sri Lankan and was punished for plagiarism by his university and who like me holds the D.Sc. (Eng.) Degree. Prof. K.M. de Silva who is also a Sri Lankan holds London’s earned D.Litt. degree).

    It is better like this, with the prestigious London D.Sc. and D.Litt. degrees no longer awarded, than have them abused and confused with honourary degrees and earned degrees with significantly lower standards.

    I proudly repeat again, that I hold London’s earned D.Sc. (Eng.) degree.

    • 0

      Playing true to form are we. Who among the 3 I mentioned is being unethical and trying to pass of a honorary doctorate as an earned higher doctorate??? I hope I have not misrepresented them (my apologies if that is the case).

      The reasons for the decline in popularity is very clear in this paper:

      There is no strategic role for a higher doctorate, it adds no real value, standards have gone done and people try to polish up a WEAK CV with a higher doctorate; there is no real interest and the number of higher doctorates in relation to submission and awards is still very LOW – not high or abused. This is not because people are not qualified but because high level academics do not see a BENEFIT from it. It does not even aid in career path for academics.

      For the University of London to remove it in 2001, the standards must have been going down ten years preceding it at least.

      • 1

        Apologies for the links.

        It is; Tina Barnes, 2013 Higher Doctorates in the UK 2013 – UK Council for Graduate Education.

        University Strategic Plans are 5 year Plans. To drop a Degree would mean at least two Strategy Report evaluations showing a decline in the quality of Higher Doctorates. This is borne out by, and this is a direct quote:

        “In particular, a key recommendation of this report is that future work in this area focus on developments within the post-1992 institutions, and the role that the higher doctorate may (or may not) play in raising their research standing”. POST – 1992 shows that the decline was already showing. 1993 DScs are part of the malaise.

        Again, I would like to know who among the three is passing off an honorary doctorate as a DSc based on academic work ???

        • 1

          Post-92 here refers to the institutes that were granted University Status in 1992 and later. I made a wrong connection/reference.

          The gist of what I was trying to say remain and the most important being for a University to drop the Higher Doctorate, the trend must have been visible at least in two Strategy Reports. 1993 would be well within it for a decision to be taken in 2001. Either the drop in quality or the reasons stated by Tina Barnes (2013) in that serious academics see no added value for them or their departments objectives.

      • 0

        I see green all over Ben. Prof. Hoole, just ignore this guy. You are entitled to be proud to be in the company of Ananda Coomaraswamy, Dissanayake, Mahalingam, Eliezer and others.

      • 0

        “There is no strategic role for a higher doctorate, it adds no real value, “

        What a stupid statement. A higher doctorate earned at Imperial College Lond. is for changing the direction of a field. The relevance is to new knowledge and research.

        which is not relevant at Jaffna University it appears.

        Our Professor/Sri Lankan/Tamil got it.

        Those who belittle him are a disgrace to Sri Lankan education.

        Jealousy will not make the prestige or importance of an earned London D. Sc fact go away.

    • 3


      Now you state “For a Tamil from Jaffna at my age, it is natural to want to spend time in Jaffna… “

      So, the previous claim you made about your return to the country being on altruistic grounds, as repayment to the taxpayers who funded your education was just a sham – right?

      • 0

        Come on, Kumar, why should these two be mutually exclusive?

        • 0

          Christmas tree,

          They don’t need to be mutually exclusive. But one needs the discipline to be forthright – not give one or the other as per convenience at that particular time! I know politicians do that – but academics have set a different expectation.

          Obviously it was nice to sound altruistic previously, and now with no legitimate excuse for the seeming disinterest in repaying tax payers, reveals the possibly more compulsive reason.

          Credibility counts more than you possibly realize.

          All in all, do you earnestly think Jeevan has made his case progressively more persuasive by the three consecutive articles over this month? I think the converse is true, by a mile!

          • 0

            Agree, I was being a bit picky there. His articles have not persuaded me.

            and my assessment is already stated above:

            “you had your chance […] you blew it. […] work outside the university system if you are actually honest and serious […]”

            But there ARE things he says about how rotten our society is, which I fully agree with — just that he is not saying it in a way so as to persuade us.

  • 1

    Dr Hoole,

    Yo stated that,
    “I sat the AL Exam in Dec. 1969 (with practical examinations in April 1970). By June or so I got my admission with about 150 others to read engineering at Peradeniya. There were 103 Tamil medium students, 20 English medium students and 27 Sinhalese medium students. (My numbers may be slightly off since there were about 145 students at the cutoff mark, I recall, of 239, with 9 more at 238 taking whom would have broken the 150 limit for our only Engineering Faculty at Peradeniya then. So there was one list with 145 admissions and another with 154.”

    But, the numbers I have for the ethnic background are:
    Field——–Sinhala —–Tamil —-Total
    Engineering– 77 —– 72 —- 149
    Medicine — 112 —– 112 —- 229

    Field——–Sinhala —–Tamil —-Total
    Engineering– 85 —– 62 —- 152
    Medicine — 132 —– 101 —- 247

    Can you confirm the students numbers in your batch again?

    • 2

      BV: the numbers 239 and 238 refer to aggregates.
      Your numbers seem about right and consistent with CR de Silva’s figures and my own recollection

      The 1969/70 numbers had Tamil and Sinhalese in equal numbers. These are from before standardization.

      The 1970/71 numbers had two versions. The initially announced numbers without standardisation (103 tamil medium, 30 Sinhalese medium and the rest English medium) and the first standardization list with 28 marks added to each Sinhalese aggregate.

      After cancelling our list a new list was anounced. This is what you have and they apply to Peradeniya. At that point we went to Katubedde, which was CCT, the Ceylon College of Technology with letters of admission to the B.Sc. Eng. degree programme but no engineering progrmme there. So our numbers from Katubedded are not included in the 1970/71 engineering numbers. It is my recollection that in our Katubedde class of 125, there were about 44 Tamils (including 2 or three English medium students).

      There is also confusion about the term 1970/71 batch used by me from de Silva’s paper. We who sat the AL in 1969 should have been the 1970/71 batch. After standardisation we went to Katubedde in Dec. 1970 instead of Sept. 1970. But because we went to CCT where there was no engineering, we are not listed in the numbers. However, those of us who were allowed to remain at Peradeniya (the better performers among us on the original list) did not go to Peradeniya (for whatever reason) until April 1971. I believe they did not complete their first year until 1972. So technically they are the 1971/72 class!

  • 1

    Christmas Tree.

    I am quoting your line….

    There is no need for a member of the council to engage in a detailed public discussion with someone who is in dispute with the University.
    Precisely,Christmas Tree!
    But then,I hear sub rosa that the appointment itself to the council with the blessings of the VC-vasanthi [what?] is to keep the Hooles at bay! So,he is earning his keep!

    • 0


      “But then,I hear sub rosa that the appointment itself to the council with the blessings of the VC-vasanthi [what?] is to keep the Hooles at bay! So,he is earning his keep!”

      Should we not worry about the next VC instead of wasting time on the current VC and what Professor Siva is doing?

      Who is threatened by the Hooles and why? I hope that they continue exposing Jaffna reality.

      The next VC should be a competent person who tries to achieve reconciliation, higher academic standards, fights corruption and understands the need for academic freedom.

      The president chooses the VC. He may have to choose from persons politically suitable but not otherwise competent. TPC and Eelam Siva Senai have a lot of influence in Jaffna.

      In my opinion it is our duty to expose the background of the candidates to help the president. Some of the known candidates are not interested in reconciliation, peace and harmony in a multi-ethnic and secular university. At least one candidate might be abusing alcohol.

      And yes, this is off the topic.

  • 4

    Dr Hoole,

    My recollection is something different.

    Addition of 28 marks ? not only to Sinhala Medium candidates, but to all Sinhalease candidates resulted in a new list and ranked.

    Then out of this new ranked list, odd numbers were selected to Peradeniya and the even numbers were selected to Moratuva.

    Do you call this exercise standardization?

    The media-wise standardization commenced in 1972 continued till 1977 with merit and district quota.

    The UNP government in 1977 abolished media-wise standardization and introduced subject-wise standardization along with merit and district quota and this continued to-date with minor changes and now we have Z-Score -another kind of standardization with merit and district quota,but acceptable to all to a certain extent.

    Whatever the method used the net result is the same.

    But University admission of Tamil students to the prestigious faculties continuously since 1970 deteriorated and now we are at the rock bottom.

  • 4

    The head of an institution like the University of Jaffna should be a person who is able carry the society along with him not be continuously in conflict with others going even to the extent of quoting peoples caste
    something which is not cared for much in the present day.
    I am sure this is one of the things that engage the attention of those who recommend and those that make appointments to such positions

    • 1

      “The head of an institution like the University of Jaffna should be a person who is able carry the society along with him not be continuously in conflict with others…”

      Man from the dark ages, are you defending the lack of capacity in your Vice Chancellor that ruins our students and compromises their education? Wickedness.
      A leader leads in the correct path to progress.

      A new Millenium has started. Read the Millenium goals, 2000 and outcomes 2015 milestone.

      Head of an Institution is about leadership and progress and leap frogging development.Not converting universities into pirivenas and temples.Jaffna has only buildings from loaned and donated money to show. Intellectually it has fallen as the statistics show, head down. Folks like you not read enough and therefore living in an another era, pre 19th century, are dragging Jaffna down with your backward backwaters thinking, cunning and crookedness.

      Instead of an education spelt out by the UN that needs to be mandatorily implemented, Jaffna Uni hides behind marketing ritual religon that needs little intellectual capacity or originality. Each department is known by its caste.

      Vasanthy Arasaratnam was a clark at Mascons. Her undergrad was at a Hindu Pirivena/Home Science institution in India. She displays no idea of a liberal college/Uni education. You people who suck upto her are destroying Jaffna’s precious intellectual future. Jaffna University lacks the intellectual capacity to produce a modern scholar, leave alone a Mahalingam or Hoole.

      Caste dead in Jaffna? Expatriate nonsense.

      Dead Tiger kids were low caste. Refugee camps are 100% low caste.

      Jaffna is done for!

      • 4

        Jaffna Hindu with its Hindu Religious structure within its premises has produced more than its share of world class scholars, including in Engineering. We do not all have to be Uncle Toms. We can be proud of our culture/religion.

        Big Time Charlies are not appreciated anywhere but somehow they see a fault with others and do not introspect. The present VC’s tenure will be looked upon as a source of stability during hard times. A minuscule few dissenting voices (all from the same crowd) will not change it.

        • 0

          Stability? A time of predatory stability!

          *Predatory lecturers abusing girls safe from charge-sheets to continue their work. Etc. No any crime by staff is punished by Council
          * Stable rise in professors with papers in predatory journals. (In agriculture faculty expectation, students pays Rs. 30,000 to get their senior project published in a predatory journal with the supervisor’s name.)
          *Engineering faculty stable with no change in topic, teaching light bulbs design for three terms and mechanical department carrying with only Sivasegaram PhD (hare and hound, Council man on contract)
          *Stable with retired Dean Kandasamy still present determining science appointments.

          Future must judge.

        • 0

          Huckleberry Finn
          Your call on the current VC ought to be right. My betterhalf, who knew the current CV as student, repects the VC foe her leadership skills.

          Leaving caste and religion aside we should be inclusive and embrace both RJH and VT for their individual skills.

        • 0

          Huckleberry Finn,

          “Jaffna Hindu with its Hindu Religious structure within its premises has produced more than its share of world class scholars, including in Engineering.”

          I agree and Jaffna Hindu is at the moment the best school for boys in Jaffna.

          “We can be proud of our culture/religion.”

          I agree again but we should not impose our culture and religion on others. Unfortunately there have been several attempts to impose our culture and religion at Jaffna University that is no longer an institution only for Hindu and Christian Tamils. Note that I am not blaming the VC for this.

          To achieve reconciliation, development and justice the culture and religion of all students and staff should be respected. I repeat my call for a secular university and government institutions in all of Sri Lanka including our ethnic enclave in the North.

          The next VC should not be one of the enforcers of our culture and religion. Other leading government servants should also not be allowed to promote our culture and religion.

          I hope that the President and ONUR with the help of social media activists study the background of the VC candidates and don’t choose a fanatic likely to impose our culture and religion. This would only continue the endless conflict.

    • 2

      //quoting peoples caste
      something which is not cared for much in the present day.//

      You should get out more (or jump out of the well) and observe the world around you.

  • 0


    You are indeed someone who is brutally frank,and rather sensitive even at your age.
    You would call a spade,a spade,even if it was not a spade!
    You also had the honour of bowling out Pygmalion with a Googly[Yorker]-What can I do you for?
    To be on this forum you need to have a thick skin!
    The River is deep but we will swim-Mao Tse Tung.
    I do not type this with malice.How can I? You hosted me for lunch at the canteen-Imperial College.
    CT- I am sorry for straying from the subject-Standardisation!

  • 1

    Thanks very much.
    “You would call a spade,a spade,even if it was not a spade!” That is a left-hander. Never mind.

    I have not hosted many, but I still do not know you.
    However some charges are too serious to dismiss lightly and there are situations where one boxes with hands tied behind.
    I do not respond to each and every attack. There are few for whom I have some respect and therefore respond. The rest I mostly ignore.

  • 1

    Sivasegaram says
    “There are few for whom I have some respect and therefore respond.”
    How true! He lashes out at everyone.
    If he had some respect for more people, he would be a better man

  • 0

    To be a better man eh?

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