6 August, 2021

Blog

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.

Muslims

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.

1977

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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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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    Let us not discuss the bitter past a part of the six-decade old negative culture that divided people and kept them at logger-heads and all have suffered this way or another. Discussing the future will be more useful.

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      I agree fully. However, when Dr. Siddeek rewrites history, the record has to be set right. I had no choice but to be drawn in. This history is part of my life.

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        Ratnajeevan,

        Would you not agree that whatever fortunate or unfortunate events you had to face in your academic life indeed ended up ultimately contributing to the success you have now achieved as an academic.

        To put that in context, I might repeat the wisdom of Winston Churchill – “the kite soars flying against the wind rather than with it!” So, who is to tell whether your success would have been better or worse, if not for the “pains and fiasco” of the past that you describe in such finite detail?!

        Also, it would be good for you to realize that the obstacles and discriminations you faced were not unique – but shared by tens if not hundreds of thousands of Tamil youth. Possibly not even a miniscule of those youth had either the ability or the opportunity to overcome them. Would you agree that the hopelessness from that plight was most instrumental in hoards of Tamil youths ultimately ending up dead young, one way or another, but undoubtedly unnecessarily.

        In that back-drop, now you whining over your and your spouse’s “misfortunes” seem rather self-absorbed and, in my opinion, is not going to buy you much favour or sympathy, if that was your intent.

        Conversely, perhaps you still don’t realize that, article after article, you have effectively made independent readers like me feel less and less rather than more and more convinced to look at your concerns favourably.

        For instance, it is sickening that you could not resist the temptation to add in some sexual innuendos. In an attempt to wean you from such a practice, I wish to make the following comments, rather harshly.

        I suggest that people in general do not share the keenness you seem to have in so diligently observing how vigourously pipe-bathers rub themselves. I certainly would like to hear from other former Katubedda students who may prove me otherwise. And, your previous observation on how and why exactly Hindu temple dancers gyrate at their waists in a particular fashion was no less keen, a rather unique specialty I suppose!

        More importantly, it is sad if not shameful that you, a learned intellectual, would choose to denigrate the poor in a disadvantaged town collectively.

        How exactly do you define “cultured” in your statement “Many a Tamil boy from a cultured home lost his head.” Do you mean homes that are able to instill good culture in their sons, only just sufficient but no more than that, so as to succumb to temptation and violate pipe-bathing damsels?! Grow up! Do you at least now realize why your writings nauseate many of us?

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          Through that story I am trying to share with you my disgust for the atmosphere at Katubedde. Sharing an exlplicit story is not necessarily vulgar, it is rather the motivation for sharing such a story that makes it vulgar or not. Indeed, we should not shy away from critiquing events simply because they are “impolite” or interpretable as vulgar. When we so shy away, we fail to make imortant points that need to be made to complete the picture.

          I think all of us understand culture. Katubedde was not a place promoting an atmosphere of learning. Let me given just one example out of the many stories I can tell about the “academic culture” at Katubedde.

          Many Tamil boys to escape the atmosphere of Katubedde chose to live in Wellawatte which took travel time, travel money and was expensive for rooms. In my final year, I roomed in a house close to campus in Malpe (pronounced Mawlpay), three to a room within walking distance of the university.

          A boy in one of the other rooms had slept with the wife of a neighbour. The neighbour found out, and one morning he came with a sword, drunk and in filth threatening to chop up all of us Tamil boys in the house into pieces. We were holed up for at least three hours, unable to go to classes, before our landlord persuaded the man to go away.

          That is lack of culture all around, in our house-mate from Jaffna, in the neighbour’s wife, in our neighbour and in Katubedde itself.

          People from cultured homes will understand the meaning of culture.

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            //had slept with the wife of a neighbour. […] lack of culture all around,//

            Culture? Methinks commandment! :-)

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            Oh Jeevan,

            What a stinger “People from cultured homes will understand the meaning of culture.”! Brilliant!! Until of course one realizes this comes from a guy addicted, by his own admission, to ogling pipe-bathers rubbing themselves and temple dancers gyrating at their waists! Please double-up on your growing up!

            Your response is proof of the old saying about teaching old dogs new tricks – no amount of education can help.

            As for the incidence you describe, what makes you think such incidences are unique to Katubedde?

            You miss my point about your statement “Many a Tamil boy from a cultured home lost his head.” Are you not implicitly absolving the Tamil boy as victim of the circumstances rather than being the culprit himself? Are you not suggesting the girls (and as you say married women, and I wondered how you knew) seduced just the Tamil boys, not the Sinhalese or Muslim or Burgher boys?

            Could you not even understand that? Your academic achievement is indeed a puzzle now!

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              Once again this is a unnecessary diversion. This discussion is on standardisation.

              It does not matter what kind of person Prof Hoole is. I am facsinated by the openess of discussing controversial incidents.

              I hope my elders in medical fraternity in 70s can contribute in this discussion. I do have contacts with medical consultants in UK who graduated in late 70s. I will make an effort to talk to them about it.

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                Ken,

                Absolutely!

                An intellect especially should avoid disparaging a community (the poor at Katubedda) based on personal biased opinions, and do that totally unnecessarily – it had nothing to do with standardization. You would note that I had preempted my comment stating my intention as exactly that – to wean the Prof from such idiocy.

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      Past is part of future.

      Surely are you suggesting that the holocaust must e forgotten or the evils of apartheid be ignored or the Palestinians must not have any claims on the illegally occupied lands.

      You have reached the limit of patronizing

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      not discuss past? we don’t even discuss the present this is why Sinhalese have an amnesia about thousands of ‘disappeared’ Tamils and the increasing colonisation and sinhalization of Tamil lands while Sinhalese can go on as if everything was alright

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      I guess the common concern here is to not let the history repeat. This narrow minded policy, intended to favour the majority and to win the votes have in fact impacted all, some directly and the others indirectly.

      Tamils had other sufferings that made the academic set backs even worse. Collectively, one may feel less guilty that it made Tamils migrate and that could have improved our lives individually. But as a community in Sri Lanka, collectively, this has dented the calibre of the community very badly.

      Having seen this individual successes, the individuals from the majority communities have also now migrated, leaving the whole country deprived of the cream that the country help create. In this sense, the whole country is broken. (The total result is weighted on individual communities’, though. Tamils have been the worst affected.) True that neither is it fair nor wise to judge those that chose to stay in the country, but at least in medical and engineering sectors, most of those that had a chance had left the country. The trigger for all these is fundamentally, standardisation. That was the real root cause. (FWIW, I graduated from one of the said universities and when the final result was released in Aug 2001, I left the country in that Sept. There was a standardisation type of reason, which I chose to omit out of decency, so please don’t start judging here. But the point is, now, I don’t think any of the ~50 students in our class, comprising all the communities, live in the country.)
      So, it’s very important to make the policy makers reminded of this bitter past, repeatedly, for them to avoid making such bad decisions. To not let them run a mediocre performing institutions, for short term political mileage. After all, we very recently had the national anthem fiasco. 6 decade of experience does not seem to do here. I would not want the next generations of this country to treat the same a holiday destination.

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    There are many educated Tamils yet the learning seems to be isolated to class environment only.

    The practical world is full of compromises. Justice as you learn in class environment is never delivered all the time. Hard work does not always produce results. Perfection hardly materializes. Being an idealist is very hard.

    A flutter of butterfly in a remote village in Cuba can produce a tornado in Florida. Its a series of actions and reactions slowly escalate eventually producing something in a scale that is unimaginable.

    When one peek into online Indian forums one gets a taste of the problem. The manifestation is identical although did not go to the extreme as it did in Sri Lanka.

    Its Tamil fanatatism with language, anti-Brahiminsm and constantly challenging north Indian Hindu culture. I see it as rabid Tamil fascism.

    It was a version of this that was imported by FP in 1949. The language issues and homelands are a direct consquence of that import.

    So why is that bad for Tamils? Narrow mindedness isolaltes people. It happens to everyone. It does not matter so much in India wheere the Tamils have their own state and its self-sufficent. i.e. even if the Aryan Hindus cannot restrict Tamil priviledges.

    Its not like that in Sri Lanka. The Tamils are at complete mercy of Sinhala tax payer who can prune Tamil privileges. So mimicking Tamils in Tamil nadu creates flutters that can create tornado as described before.

    Its small island and absolutely no one can stand Tamils anymore. So as long as the FP ideology remains here Tamils will be the receiving end of bad flutters.

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      De Silva’s last comment is “Its small island and absolutely no one can stand Tamils anymore. So as long as the FP ideology remains here Tamils will be the receiving end of bad flutters”

      Clearly shows that in his view,fascism is strictly for the BBS type.

      In 1956 Tamils had a sathyagraha outside parliament while the Sinhala Only Bill was passed. This flutter was met with a tornado of goons attacking the protesters.

      De Silva justifies the 1958, 1977, 1983 pogroms as tornadoes resulting from flutters. Chaos Theory does not include active state help.

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      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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      De Silva

      “When one peek into online Indian forums one gets a taste of the problem.”

      Do you really peek into Indian forums or do you hear Indian voices in your head?

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      De Silva,
      Why should Tamils accept Hindi imposition or any other linguistic imposition in their own native lands? What people with any self-respect would allow this? Not only Tamils but when West Pakistan imposed its hegemony on East Pakistan there arose a linguistic nationalist movement among Bengalis at the same time Tamils in Ceylon were agitating against Sinhala Only imposition. Bengali Language Movement culminated in their declaration of independence and the subsequent liberation war where a genocide was inflicted on the Bengali people by the racist West Pakistani forces, abetted by none other than the good old Sinhala State which provided overflight and refuelling facilitates when India refused. Of course Pakistan being grateful nation reciprocated by abetting Sinhala Lanka in their genocidal war against the Tamils.
      Resisting linguistic or cultural imposition is not fascism but self-determination while imposing is cultural genocide. It’s funny when cultural imperialists accuse others of fascism for resisting their hegemony. The irony is truly lost on you. Tamils are a millennia old civilisation while Hindia and Sinhala Lanka are modern creations of the colonial powers. If any language should rule the subcontinent, it should be Tamil, an oldest Dravidian language native to that place, unlike Indo-Aryan languages like Hindi which has its origins and influences from the outside. Neither India nor Sri Lanka has ever been a homogeneous nation state; they have always comprised of different nations from the outset and most of their histories were dominated by regional kingdoms and chieftaincies, not centralised unitary states. Tamil Nadu is the second biggest economy in India, contributing more to India’s GDP than Hindian cow belt hence they have every right to demand and enjoy political and cultural autonomy.

      And what is wrong with opposing racist caste based Brahimin supremacy? For millennia these select few elites using religious based sanctions had dominated societies condemning entire populations to life of servitude. Dravidian movements emerged to empower these downtrodden people and you vilify them for it thereby revealing your true fascist nature.

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        /*

        If any language should rule the subcontinent, it should be Tamil, an oldest Dravidian language native to that place.

        */

        The proof of this was lost in the Jaffna library fire?

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          Tamil has the oldest literary tradition among the Dravidian languages and is the oldest Indian language still spoken.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_first_written_accounts#First_millennium_BC

          Indian historian Burjor Avari writes in his book (India: The Ancient Past: A History of the Indian Sub-Continent from c. 7000 BC to AD 1200):
          “It is believed that the Dravidian family is indigenous to India, and that Tamil, the premier Dravidian language, is perhaps the oldest Indian language in use today.”

          According to Encyclopaedia of Tourism Resources in India, Volume 2:
          “[Tamil Nadu’s] cultural, literary and linguistic attainments go back to a hoary past. Just before the Christian era, a largely grammatica work, the Tolkappiyam, was written in Tamil which would indicate that there was considerable development of the language prior to the work and intense literary activity gave birth to the grammatical work. Tamil is thus the oldest Indian language which is still spoken and written.”

          As for Sanskrit, the mother language of the Indo-Aryan family, the earliest form of it is that used in the Rig Veda (called Old Indic or Rigvedic Sanskrit) which was first recorded in inscriptions found not on the plains of India but in in what is now northern Syria!
          http://scroll.in/article/737715/fact-check-india-wasnt-the-first-place-sanskrit-was-recorded-it-was-syria

          Indo-Aryans have their origins from the outside, proven by their linguistic and genetic affinities with Europeans and Western Asians. It’s Dravidian Tamils who are indigenous to India and they have all the right in the world to self-rule and not be dominated by invading foreign cultures in their own native lands.

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      Yo,
      De Silva

      Sinhalaya clearly have bad logic. The moment the Sinhalayas learn to reason and lose their strong confidence in themselves Lankawe would collapse.

  • 6
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    “We are a broken people. The war and migration, the loss of teachers and our own internecine killings have contributed to our downfall.”

    Absolutely true!

  • 18
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    “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.”

    That not always the case. The split was 50-50 for admission in 1960. (The First Year was then conducted by the Science Faculty).
    The proportion of Sinhalese students had since been noticeably better than 60% as far as I well remember between 1960 and 1966 (first as a student and then Assistant Lecturer). I doubt if the percentage of Tamils admitted typically exceeded 35% between 1966 and 1970.

    The jump to nearly 80% Tamils was most unusual and, given the divisive attitudes then, there was reason for an average Sinhalese to be suspicious.
    My own guess is that private tuition played a significant role in the GCE (AL) exams by then, and middle class Tamils in Jaffna and to a less extent Colombo resorted to private tuition in at lease a few subjects. There are other factors too which I will not go into, but what happened was a distortion deriving from the phenomenon of private tuition which was to become a bigger menace in later years.

    There was a knee-jerk reaction in the media from a significant number of Sinhalese; and several university dons shared such sentiment.

    I discussed the matter with a few of my colleagues at Peradeniya, and Drs CLV Jayatilleke and MP Ranaweera volunteered to pen a letter to the media and their letter to the Ceylon Daily News appealing to sense and asking the public not to jump to conclusions until the proposed inquiry was over was published in the CDN.
    I saw some of the hate mail that they received by post, calling them traitors of the Sinhala race.
    But they ignored the vile abuse as to respond will be to show respect for debased thought.

    Standardization followed on media basis so that, as one may anticipate, admission would be roughly in proportion to the number of candidates in each medium.

    The reaction of Jaffna Tamil students was mostly understandable but also showed lack of sensitivity in some respects. Strong anti-Muslim sentiments was stirred among the student protesters and clashes occurred between left-oriented demonstrators and sections that were strongly Tamil nationalist when abusive slogans were raised by the latter when the demonstration passed the Muslim ward.

    “The admissions for the 1970 AL too were done on a purely racial basis…. 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….”
    I taught the batch referred to at Peradeniya and the number was much larger as far as I remember. At Peradeniya, we taught the First Year programme bilingually as best as possible between 1970 and beyond 1980. I taught sections of Engineering Physics I in Tamil-English; and do not remember teaching any First Year group smaller than 40 after 1970, it was more like 50+. So it could have been at Katubedde.

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      Tution did not come free. It was not vacationing in Disneyland; It had its pains and sorrows. Many poor families throw their only dollar left with them on that gambling. When the results came for their children, not just their belt, they tightened their children’s belts with their hands. Their minds were feeling worse than Kuselar’s mind when he handed over the only scoop of Aval that was at home to Krishna and he was returning home without asking any favors from Krishna. [Edited out]

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      S. Sivasegaram

      Siri Mao was the prime-minister at the time.

      Whatever she imposed on the island must have been good for the country, good for the people, and the correct policy. No one should complain about standardization. A discussion is tantamount to stirring communal harmony. We don,t need to discuss this topic.

      Long live Siri Mao.

      Down with Tamil Nationalists.

  • 4
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    You are one of biggest racist …how could you divide people in line with religion or ethnicity…

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      Ha! I have my issues with Dr Hoole. But most of the things he said here is true. Discuss the ides and opinions, not people who made them.

  • 6
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    When will people ever learn. Discrimination is suicidal. A lady dies at controversial Malabe hospital. Minister’s DIL is a student despite GMOA warn the products of their medical degree. All are byproducts of discrimination. Intelligent people will survive even if they are poor. They will become stronger. Past history is a curse coming from Kuveni’s days.

  • 4
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    Let us take a minute and review the current economic status of middle class Tamils from Jaffna.

    In early 70s, middle class Tamils from Jaffna were heavily depending on government jobs to survive.

    University admission issue in fact made them mad and forced them to look for alternative options to survive.

    More than half a million Tamils left SL over the last 30+ years.

    1st generation worked even harder in foreign countries and supported their families. Now most of them own houses worth millions and their children go to top class Universities and earn top salaries. They annually visit to SL during their vacations. It all worked out good for middle class Tamils from Jaffna.

    We need someone to make us mad so that we can work even harder to get what we want. In our culture, we don’t forget bad days and never forgive our adversaries. But take it easy with what happened in 70s. Give a chance for others to follow that script.

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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    Most Tamils shared the pain that Hoole recounts. It was a sad period and the greater sadness is that it continues in diverse ways

    One good thing though- if it can be said to be good- is that the Sinhalese violence (and standardisation was also a form of violenc-drove out many Tamils to other lands. Their children now are great successes at different universities of the world. They speak and learn in so many languages. The pool of knowledge and creativity among them is so high as to earn the admiration of the world.

    The Sinhalaya will forever be mired in his Mahavamsa cesspit. Maybe, he did the Tamils a favour as he has produced a Tamil diaspora that will become collectively richer than the Sinhala state and globally more influential. There will be a pool of Tamils highly trained in different disciplines. Double doctorates among them will also be a dime a dozen as it presently is. Hopefully at least a tiny percentage of them will go back home. We can live in hope and bear the trauma of the past.

  • 4
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    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?

    This happened not only in Engineering. Some professors had given questions even to undergraduates. I have heard at least one proffessor in agriculture who gave questions to his Tamil students and all those Tamils faired better in the exam.

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      This is an absolutely stupid claim. Then, the commentator is known for making such claims.

      Tamil Professors hardly ever talked to us in Peradeniya. They were somewhat of an elite class.

      As Professor Sivasegaram says, tuition classes played a significant role in preparing students for the exams. We were over-taught and we over-worked. Education was the ONLY way to move forward in life for the people in arid Jaffna peninsula.

      I heard another story, something similar to what Dr Hoole narrated. Some Ministers decided to look at the way the Tamil examiners marked the papers of the Tamil students in the GCE (A/L) exams. They took some papers to India for remarking. It seems, the remarking awarded significantly higher marks for those answer scripts.

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        What can be fine if it comes from the cesspits of Jim Softy, Sumansekara, Max, Sacho AND the like creatures ?

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      Hey soft, you know a professor;

      But I know a dynasty doing it for itself in generations. You know even Dr.Jayampathy does not have clean hands though he is a better person in the Colombo political and educational services.

      Standardization was not simply a university admission procedure. It was the part of Gencode. Deporting Tamils disenfranchising, dismissing them from jobs, using Sinhala Only, Using pogroms to burn their properties, rape, murder, Constitutional amendment to remove Soulbury’s Section 29, burning their library, …. These all not done by the professor you know. So don’t, by mistake, bring the professor’s story in these talks of standardization because this talk is about genocide.

      In America they have something as Affirmative Action Plan. There is quota system for minorities. That is a competitive society. If a quota is given at lower lever it is not going to seriously affect the upper level. Upper level will generate additional opening to the accommodate the leftover students. There are some Universities receive below the amounts of the application they want. There are universities gets excess application. All students apply for many Universities. The competition, at the end, ensures everybody gets a chance. One may ask how this make economic sense if the below level is let to get graduated? But you may have heard about minimum wage fixations in the west. It works pretty with the same logic. In competition, you cannot pay a wage above for one can compete and get. But the minimum wage keep the economy’s spending level high. It stimulate the economy. More jobs get created. Naturally everybody’ wage go up at the end. If the minimum wages done with intelligent guesses, it an stimulator of the economy. It is not the same plane, but with the same logic the Affirmative Action Plan works. That is not the way the Lankawe’s Kanangra system works.

      The above essay is many Tamils’ story. I guess there are many in the website were hit by standardization and lost their lives, though few recovered. Please don’t think if you write any rubbish then people going to believe. But come forward and write your honest story instead of a professor you know; You appears to have problem of writing a passage sincerely; write how many fraud were committed by when you completed your studies.

    • 3
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      J Softy
      Sorry to disappoint you.
      The setting and marking of the papers was and still is by the Department of Examinations.
      No faculty has a say in admissions.
      If at all, with the UGC in control since 1978, a faculty could at best refuse to admit students who were not in the original list sent by the UGC– that too if their admissions means exceeding the nominal class size or if admission is recommended after start of sessions

      Our standards of making were high and that was a reason why the universities had trouble four years ago owing to the then UGC administration foolishly equating marks obtained under two sets of syllabi. (The setting/marking standards seemed a little lax for new syllabus papers.)

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    Disclaimer: I am not trying to establish anything about the academic superiority of one community over the other. But, as Dr Hoole, I am disappointed about the claims that Tamil students were given unfair advantage by the professors, translators and markers.

    This is not something one can convincingly bring the facts and truth out as the marks of individual students are not available for an authentic and objective study. Then, people keep making up stories like Tamil professors went to Jaffna to release the A/L exam questions to Tamil students, Tamil markers granted more marks to Tamil students or intentional errors were made in Tamil translation in order to grant full marks for Tamil candidates.

    In my Engineering batch (supposed to enter in 1980, but entered in 1981), we were supposed to have 250 students in Peradeniya and 230 in Moratuwa. In Peradeniya, if my memory serves right, we had 23 students from Hartley College and 19 students from Jaffna Hindu College.Most of them did wonderfully well throughout their studies at Peradeniya and beyond. Those schools have been producing some top scholars and professionals over 100 years.

    Most of us (well, I should speak for myself) struggled in the first few months as our English proficiency was very poor. Students from Jaffna town and Point Pedro (not all) went to English classes after their A/L exams, but thhose from other parts of the Peninsula did not have good English teachers around. Then, most of us were pessimistic about getting a seat in Engineering (or Medicine), hence did not care about English classes.

    Although we were given bi-lingual delivery, Tamil students did not receive what was promised. Prof Shanmuganayagam taught in wonderful Tamil. Dr Thomas taught well in Tamil. Dr Sritharan would start in Tamil and but English would dominate the lecture. Other subjects were taught with translators/interpreters. We were allowed to write our answers in Tamil, but hardly anyone wanted to do that because many thought they would receive better marks from professors (mainly Sinhalese) than Tamil translators! It certainly was a struggle!!

    We all would agree that A/L and university are completely different systems. However, one of the better measures is too look at the performance in the university courses. If I remember right, we had nine first classes, thirteen second class upper divisions and twenty or so second class lower divisions in our fourth year. That was an unusual year though. Due to the campus riots in Peradeniya and the Riots in 1983, most of the Tamil students did not return to the university for our third year examinations. Third and Final year combined, Tamil students sat for over 12 papers in December 1984.

    Does anyone who claims the ‘unfair advantages’ want to look at the performances of Tamil and Sinhala speaking students in the university courses, mainly Engineering and Medicine?

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      Bala V
      It may interest you to know that in our 1960 batch of 60, most of the 30 Tamil students (5) came from Royal, followed by St Patrick’s (4) and St John’s (4). There were also many from several schools little known outside the Peninsula, including Sithampara VVT which sent its first student to E’Fac, who was one of the eight First Classes– but none came from Hartley, although our senior batch had the most brilliant teacher David Gunaratnam. Other Hartleyites in the staff, Shanmuganayagam and Thurairajah were outstanding– Thurai, however, was really a product of Uduppiddy American Mission. Even Jaffna Hindu sent only one to our batch I think.

      Interestingly St Joseph’s Colombo sent 7 students, but like St Patrick’s and St John’s, did not show anything near their feats of 1960 for a long while.

      Hartley sent around 7 or 8 (out of 150) in 1972, and I best remember them for their beautiful handwriting in print style. Somehow, that did not last long.

      I first realized the ruinous effect of private tuition when a Tamil student who entered in 1980 with 4 GCE(AL) A grades (not quite a common occurrence at the time) crashed in most subjects at the First Year examination, including subjects like Physics I and II. When I returned in 1998, GCE(AL) results meant almost nothing.

      As for bilingual teaching, Tamil students were not at a relative disadvantage until after 1977.
      Dr Sanmuganathan left in the early 1970’s as did Prof. Chinnappa and Balasubramaniam; a number of excellent young teachers including David Gunaratnam, Mahalinga Iyer, Vinayagalingam, Theivendran and Devotta left after 1977 as did several Sinhalese colleagues. But not all Tamils left for ethnic reasons. Kumar David left in 1981 I think. Several more including Shanmuganayagam and Moorthy left after 1983. Profs Mahalingam and Samuel stayed on.

      In fairness, the Faculty did its best to cater to Tamil students with its limited resources after 1977. With very few teachers proficient in Tamil, it was a very bad situation after 1983, and I think bilingual teaching was abandoned at some stage. I can assure anyone that there was no communal reason within the Faculty for the Tamil students lacking senior Tamil academics.

      Remarkably Dr Muthukumarasamy returned after his PhD in the mid-1980’s. Otherwise very few Tamil academics showed any interest in serving anywhere in the country for many years.

      As for answering in Sinhala or Tamil, very few really used that concession even when things were quite good for Tamil students. (A remarkable exception was my good friend Sarath Lal Perera who insisted on writing a few words in Sinhala in one Part III paper as a matter of principle).
      Many benefitted from translated question papers in Years 1 & 2 (and Year 3 until 1978) as it helped to understand the question. The translations were also dissected by some students after the examination for pure amusement, as interestingly revealed to me by a student.

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        Thanks Prof Siva for sharing your thoughts.

        You were away in 1981 when were in the first year. If I remember right, you returned to Peradeniya during our first year exams.

        Yes! Questions in Tamil was a great help for many students.

        I am not sure about your recollection regarding the crash of a top GCE (AL) student in the university. I hope we are talking about the same student. The one I talk about was my classmate and was a natural talent. I thought his way of learning was not fostered in our university education system, mainly by the guru-shishya structure.

        We were scared of the teachers. We were ‘instructed’ by the seniors that we would be better off if we could stay away from Prof Siva and Prof Jayatilleke. Nobody told us how anyone was affected by these Mechanical Engineering professors, but we were not going to take chance! Personally I had pleasant experiences with Professors Siva, Thurai, Jayatilleka, de Silva and Ranathunga. I shared my view on the professors with many juniors. But, post-1983 was a whole different world.

        To go back to the shiny kid from the AL system, I thought he was a victim of the approach and attitude of the instructors and assistant lecturers on young students.

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          Dear Bala
          Thanks.
          I may be talking about someone in the 1980 batch.
          I would not have known much about your batch performance as I was away on sabbatical leave in 1981 and returned only in 1981 December.

          I know a little of what some mischievous seniors have been doing. 1998 onward I was informed by First Year students that they prevented the freshers from talking in English and asking questions in class.

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          I entered Peradeniya a few years later, and Prof. Sivasegaram had left for the UK. So I can’t comment about individual circumstances.

          But in general, I reject the notion that private tutoring is in itself a problem. Whenever there is a competitive examination nationwide, people will try to get any advantage they can, so why is that a problem?

          We are not talking about rich people here. It is the same in most Western countries, including the US, say with SAT or admission to even highly competitive STEM high schools or admission to Ivy League universities.

          Many Asian parents– including Indian ones–send their kids to extra Math, Science and English classes, such as Kumon, etc. (Specialized Japanese, Korean and Singaporean methods of teaching Math.) My kids don’t go to such classes, but if others choose to do so, it is not a problem at all.

          The only thing I consider a problem in SL is that teachers at certain public schools who were also teaching privately did not have much incentive to teach well at the schools. That should have been addressed by conflict of interest laws, and private tutoring by certain teachers while affiliated to schools must have been restricted in some fashion.

          And on the broader issue of standardization, Prof. Hoole is mostly right from what I have heard and read. Given his Marxist sensibilities, Prof. Sivasegaram seems to be trying to bend over backwards to justify or whitewash the practices of the SLFP/Leftist alliance government of the 1970’s, under whom many Tamil youths became radicalized and turned to Tamil nationalism.

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            Agnos

            Is it true that SJ/Sekera/Prof. Sivasegaram are one and the same person?

            By the way, Siri Mao did no wrong.

            Siri Mao had the best foreign policies.

            Siri Mao had the best interest of Tamils at heart.

            Siri Mao’s Goons didn’t attack the Tamil conference in 1974 on the contrary the Tamil party was inviting trouble since 1948.

            Chinese are our only saviours. Therefore let them rule this island.

            India is the enemy of this island.

            We should not critically evaluate LTTE’s brutality simply because they were anti Indian.

            Are you a Tamil Nationalist?

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            Agnos,

            //Given his Marxist sensibilities, Prof. Sivasegaram seems to be trying to bend over backwards to justify or whitewash the practices of the SLFP/Leftist//

            May I please point out that Sivasegaram has stated:

            (a) that “to understand”, and “to explain”, which is what he is trying to do, is not the same as “to justify”, which is what some here are accusing him of doing (and you take it one level higher by saying “to whitewash”); and

            (b) that he does not consider the Sirimavo government as being on the Left.

            It would be decent to react to what someone writes than to labels that are so liberally thrown at them.

            (Apologies if you have heard this quote before: “If I give the poor a piece of bread, they call me a saint, if I ask why the poor are poor, they call me a communist.”)

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            Private tutoring in Sri Lanka is an industry as big as the school system. It is about scoring high marks and not learning anything. If you think that there is nothing wrong with it I will not try to persuade you otherwise. Do your own research and you will find the answer.

            My Marxist-Leninist sensibilities made me reject parliamentary left politics; and I have been a strong critic of the UF government from a left perspective. If you find evidence that I defended anything that was wrong, tell me and I shall be thankful.

            I am not attracted to political or academic acrobatics of any description. If viewing a problem from positions other that my own is a sin, I am glad to be a Sinner.

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              One of the current favoured educational theories is known as andragogy. It is underpinned by the following arguments.
              Adults are self directed in learning, they have need to know what they learn as well as adults relate new learning experiences with their previous eduction.

              Prof Sivasegaram is very right on the impact of tuition in falling standards of education. However I had the opportunity to learn under good tuition teachers who fostered good learning experiences.

              People of the calibre of Prof Hoole does not need tuition by virtue their self directed learning styles (In the narrative Prof H mentioned of his relaxed composure before the A/L exam). Of course we need to be reminded of pedagogical aspects of learning by a mentor. That advantage of having an educated mentor should not punish aspiring students for their diligence and insight by having a standardised exam.

              I am disappointed to note that none of learned Muslim commentators of CT seemed to share the constanersation of their Tamil brethren. Their attitude and lack of forthrightness are quite shocking in comparison to some of the sinhala commentators who seem to be sympathetic and patient listeners.

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              Prof. Sivasegaram,

              On the tutoring issue, it is up to the students and parents to make sure that they learn something serious rather than simply scoring high marks.

              Academics can of course complain through the media that entering students are unprepared for university work, and people need to take that seriously, assuming that view is not coming from just one or two professors, but is widely held.

              Keep in mind that just as teachers can judge students, students can judge teachers as well.

              For instance, there are people in their 60’s who topped their batch in all 4 years at Peradeniya and doing well in the US, who told me that they still have negative opinions about the teaching of Thermodynamics and Engineering Drawing by C.L.V. Jeyatilleke and you, even though personally, CLVJ was one of my teachers as well, and I thought his teaching was fine. So, subjective opinions can vary widely.

              On your support or otherwise to the SLFP/UF regime, I agree that I do not know much about your past views or activities; my comments are based on comments you made on CT under various threads, which give a picture of your being insufficiently critical of atrocious conduct by successive regimes, including those like Srimavo, CBK, MR and Vasudeva Nanayakkara. It is fine to try to understand the Sinhalese psyche, but there is no need to pussyfoot around the issue when there is blatant discrimination or racial thinking. And that should answer ST above as well.

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                Dear Agnos
                Insufficient criticism is not evidence of support.
                Have I sufficiently criticized the Rajapaksas, Ranil W, Wimal W, Karuna and many others?
                I expected better reasoning from you.

                Lakshman taught Drawing briefly. A most valuable thing that he did for the subject was to introduce training in free-hand sketching after his sabbatical year at the PMB. (I apprenticed under him and took over the task from 1979 until 1983 and again from 2008 until retirement. I am glad that I did the job, although strenuous.)
                I do not know what all or most of my students thought of my teaching until Year 2000. (Besides, Thermodynamics was a relatively abstract subject, and I gave minimal notes and never set predictable questions. In Drawing, a disciplined approach was important to me. So strong views are possible either way. No regrets.)
                However, after student feedback was formalized sometime after Year 2000, until retirement and after, my ratings were high. Yet there were always the few who hated me for being strict, as I sent people out of class for coming late and caught quite a few students who got others to sign the attendance sheet for them.

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        I say, Sivasegaram, Hoole has raised several issues in your data pointing to your twisting facts and apologizing for communalism. Sucking up is perhaps a batter phrase.

        I you want us to take you seriously, please address those issues instead of changing the topic.

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    Now Sri Lankan local Universities are full of jokers and uneducated people.That is why not any single sound against government bad economic or any other policies. It is almost full with bad people. “honesty is an expensive gift so never expect that gift from cheap people in Universities”.

  • 4
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    It’s almost a miracle that S.R.H. Hoole came through all this experience with the ability achieve so much later, and also that Katubedda developed as fast as it did.

    These facts must be well digested; but don’t expect miracles to happen all the time. Our country desperately needs more rational planning.

  • 3
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    Standardisation is an act of blatant discrimination which made Tamils feel disowned by their own country. I do not understand why Prof. Sivasegaram wants to misrepresent facts and present this enormity that befell us by belittling its cataclysmic ill effects on the Tamil people.

    In particular, Prof. Sivasegaram says
    “I doubt if the percentage of Tamils admitted typically exceeded 35% between 1966 and 1970.”
    If Tamil numbers were close to 50% as I stated, the reduction of Tamil numbers through standardization would be large. If they were under 35% as Prof. Sivasegaram claims, the reduction of Tamil numbers would be small. Indeed, after the first standardization, Tamils proportion in Peradeniya’s engineering (see below) was 40.8%. That is, by Sivasegaram’s concocted, convoluted reasoning, Tamil numbers went up because of standardization from below 35% to 40.8%!

    Sivasegaram then apologizes for racism in saying
    “The jump to nearly 80% Tamils was most unusual and, given the divisive attitudes then, there was reason for an average Sinhalese to be suspicious.”

    If Tamil numbers were below 35% before standardization, our jump to 80% (as Sivasegaram claims) would truly be astounding. However, from 50% our jump would be smaller and indeed we never jumped to 80% as Sivasegaram claims. Out of the 150 admissions in the pre-standardisation 1970 list, there were 103 Tamil medium students, some 30 Sinhalese medium students and 17 English medium students who would have included both Tamils and Sinhalese. Sinhalese propaganda at that time claimed 80% Tamils, taking all English medium students to be Tamil. Sivasegaram, not surprisingly, continues as a mouth-piece for Sinhalese communalism, by repeating these much worn out untruths.

    Sivasegaram then goes on to say
    “I taught sections of Engineering Physics I in Tamil-English; and do not remember teaching any First Year group smaller than 40 after 1970, it was more like 50+.”
    This again is untrue. He is doing propaganda as we will see below.

    What then are the real numbers? I found Sivasegaram’s claim to be against all I knew and I therefore searched far and wide for numbers from independent sources. The following data is computed from

    C.R. de Silva, “The Politics of University Admissions – Sri Lanka Journal of Social studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1976, pp.105/106.

    In the admissions year 1969/70, out of 149 admitted to read engineering at Peradeniya (this is the standardized admission), there were 51.7% Sinhalese and 48.3% Tamils. (Sivasegaram misleads us saying the Tamils and Sinhalese were not nearly equal and gives a 60-40 division which is incorrect. My 50-50 figure is correct.)

    In the next year, 1970/71 (my batch from the Dec 1969 AL with April 1970 practicals), out of 152 admitted to read engineering at Peradeniya, there were 55.9% Sinhalese and 40.8% Tamils. This was the first standardized batch by adding 28 marks to all four-subject Sinhalese aggregates.

    In the admissions year 1971/72 out of 274 admitted to read engineering (the by then upgraded Katubedde Campus and Paradeniya Campus admission figures are consolidated), 62.4% are Sinhalese and 34.7% Tamil. The screws on Tamils are seen to be tightening.

    In the admissions year listed as 1973 (because of delays as they take time cooking figures), out of 275 admitted to read engineering, 73.1% are Sinhalese and 24.4% are Tamil. More tightening of the screws on Tamils.

    In the admissions year 1974, out of 283 admitted to read engineering, 78.8% are Sinhalese and 16.3% % are Tamil. Even more tightening of the screws on Tamils.

    In the admissions year 1975, out of 289 admitted to read engineering, 83.4% are Sinhalese and 14.2% % are Tamil. How come Sivasegaram does not remember teaching this small class and says it was always 50+? The corresponding number was 41 in the consolidated Katubedded-Peradeniya engineering class. After allowing for those Tamils at Katubedde, Prof. Sivasegaram’s Peradeniya class would have had 20 to 30 Tamil students at most.

    I was in my final year then. The screws were at their tightest. My brother with 2 A’s and 2 C’s or 1C 1S was not given even Physical Science. After that year I was not present in Sri Lanka as a personal observer.

    In the admissions year 1976, out of 268 admitted to read engineering, 76.1% are Sinhalese and 22.4 % are Tamil.

    Admissions after that were under the UNP

    My humble request to Prof. Sivasegaram is this. You do not have to comment on an article when you do not know the subject. When you do propaganda like this for the left regime of 1970-77, you are hurting all Tamils and helping to rewrite history for communalists.

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      Please look at page 153 and 154 for the ethnic background of students who entered the universities each year from 1975 to 1983 in the following publication: http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo5960167.html

      Now, the Engineering Professors could use those numbers to make their cases.

      Also, the author of the attached link has prepared a Q&A with a range of questions including the relativity high percentage (compared to the ethnic makeup) of Tamil students and the myth about Tamil examiners cheating in the preparation of papers and assessment.

      • 3
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        Thanks.
        I will appreciate if the summary data are made available for 1968 to 1975 for my own enlightenment.
        I do not think that access is free and I will need to visit a library.

        My argument was based on the impact that the apparent “80% Tamils for Engineering” would have had on the Sinhalese. I stand by my reasoning.
        I only try to understand and explain if possible, but justification is something else.

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          Sure Professor.

          I was bloody lucky to reach those numbers. I searched in google with ‘admission figures tamil sinhala students’.

          Sri Lanka–Ethnic Fratricide and the Dismantling of Democracy by Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah (1986) is a great reference at the link https://books.google.com.au/books?isbn=0226789527

          Please look for those pages 154 and 155 there. For educational, research knowledge sharing purposes, I am reproducing some basic data for the readers. Get the books and read for more information.
          https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwXprQmXvNrpWkNScTdSVWVENzA/view?usp=sharing

          By the way, is it possible at all to look for a UGC publication, by the Division of planning and research in 1983? This seems to be the goldmine of all information!

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            Many Thanks
            I will
            As for UGC I have no contacts.

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              Thanks for the link but it did not take me far back enough.
              The UGC may not have the information before 1978 as it was established only in 1978.
              I will look for SJT’s book. But I have doubts as data for 1970-74 is touchy business and SJT may not have had access to them.

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      The District Quota System
      Due to Tamil oppositions, the standardization policy was terminated by the government and implemented a new policy called the District Quota System (Silva, 1978, pp89-90). As a result, students of less developed rural provinces were given the maximum advantages in university education. For instances, Sinhala students made 75.4% of science faculties, 78% of engineering faculties and 70.0% of medical faculties in 1974. The percentage of university entrance of Sinhala student was increased in 1975. 78.0% of science faculties, 83.4%of engineering faculties and 78.9% of medical
      faculties were made by them in that year. They held the most prominent place of Arts faculties as 85% in 1975(Silva, 1978, p 93). Not only Sinhalese, representations of Muslims also had increased more than before (Silva, 1978, p 93). Their number in science faculties doubled between 1970-1975. Tamil representations of Universities ha decreased drastically. Representation of Tamils in science faculties had decreased up to 20.9% in 1974. (They were made
      25.9% in 1973 and 35.3% in 1970).Similarly their percentages of engineering and medical faculties had decreased up to 16.3% and 25.5%.In 1973,337 Tamil students qualified to enter the science faculties of universities. Even though in 1974, that limit had been decreased up to 294.This situation worsened in 1975.Their percentages of science and medical faculties decreased up to 14.2% & 17.4% in that year(Silva, 1978, p 93). Their overall representation of science discipline had been decreased up to 19 % in same year.

      CONTEMPORARY SRI LANKAN EDUCATION POLICIES AND ITS EFFECTS ON
      THE ORIGIN OF THE TAMIL MILITARY MOVEMENT IN BEGINNING OF 1970S
      LAKMINI GAMAGE

      IMPACT: International Journal of Research in Humanities, Arts and Literature (IMPACT: IJRHAL)
      ISSN(E): 2321-8878; ISSN(P): 2347-4564
      Vol. 3, Issue 5, May 2015, 17-22

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    Yes it was a bitter past ..we should forget and re-build the nation with democratic norms..but often thinking about my personal losses in terms of lives of near and dear ones …I often mourn once in year specially on 31st of December each year for them.I could see how rude the Police atrocities at Jaffna in 1970s thus caused the birth of militancy..then later on went out of control even by the so called Tamil leaders.( who were too selfish to the core). The process of standardization which was based on a non-scientific discrimination (well orchestrated by Mrs.Bandaranayake) in higher education and job opportunities prompted many to join in militant groups and rest who fared well in their A/Ls went to UK or USA to proceed their higher studies …now they are well settled.There was/is/will be no accountability from any one…the entire island of paradise under GOD’s mercy.But remember the law of Charles Darwin …..” Survival of the fittest” ….not the intelligent one , not the powerful one…. not by the majority …only the ones who are ready to adjust according to need of the changing environments will evolve as a “successful Survivor” .Center of origin….then intra competition among the species …migration… ability to withstand and acquire the changes for the survival …this was the hypothesis adopted by the brilliant Tamil students.I could recall one of my friend with 2A and 2B also never got the admission even for Physical Sciences.He went to London Univ and topped in Civil Engineering ..this happened in 1974.Similarly my sister and I went to Panjab University – Chandigarh and worked hard reached the PhDs without any breaks.In fact we are thankful to Sri Lankan authorities for sidelining us in academics.Sister Gayatri is now an Indian who did her doctorate in Human Auxology – an important branch of Pediatrics & Bioanthropology that deals with endocrinology…She has a long academic -research history in working on various ethnic groups of South Asia including Tamil Population of Jaffna.She completed her PhD in 1989 Her external PhD examiner was the world famous Pediatrician Prof.J.N Tanner of London.I had been very fortunate to have two outstanding North Indian experts , Professor Ashok Sahni , PhD ( Howard), FNA, FRS an outstanding Vertebrate Paleontologist of Asia and Late Professor S.R.K Chopra an eminent Physical Anthropologist of 20th Century who was holding PhD and DSc degrees from Zurich University and FRS title.I was the first one to explore the microfossils and reconstruction of ancient environments of Sub-Himalayas (2.47 Million yrs old) and the enamel ultra structure of fossil and living primates.My PhD external examiner was Prof J.Jaeger, Univ of Paris ( one of the member of French Atomic Commission) Both of us were told by our supervisors apply to Jaffna University and work for your nation …BUT WE GOT VERY NEGATIVE & NASTY ANSWER THAT WE DO NOT REQUIRE YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS -JAFFNA UNIVERSITY (1989) .The entire Punjabi community was stunned after reading the letter from Jaffna Univ.Later on UGC of India selected us as outstanding scientists from developing countries and granted us Senior Scientists position at Panjab University.Eventually sister Gayathri gave up her Sri Lankan Passport to their High Commission at Delhi in Dec, 1998 and acquired the Indian Citizenship.We could see the First Secretary of the High Commission felt very sad of loosing an educated person.But we explained to them about the ground realities.I opted for the Australian Immigration based on my academics and won a joint project (Major Discovery) on Skeletal Biology and Dental Anatomy .It produced very successful results at the end of 2007.But the mid way of the project my Senior Academic Colleague was extremely happy about the outcomes of the data collected by me and recommended my Aussie citizenship against my off-shore research contributions …eventually in Sept, 2004 I got it on minister’s desecration quota .. We have no ill feelings towards any one but my anger against the Tamil politicians who are totally self centered .Kept thier family and children at the safe heavens .Now the years have passed and we are highly thankful to Panjab University which granted us the academic wisdom and achievements ..We have also mastered in at least six languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil , English and French .The civil war has broken down our hopes and aspirations but never made us to quit our academic -research.Any one can cherish victory but only the strong ones can withstand the defeats. We intermingled and lived with Punjabis -a different ethnic group with majority follows the Sikh religion ..very hospitable people …very brave too ..in fact my late wife was a Punjabi from UK and passed away with blood cancer within a year -at the age of 24 yrs. Till date we ( sister and I ) never gave up the hope for the survival. We had no scholarships or fellowships funded the entire study by our own.

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    WE ARE NEVER ABLE TO FORGET THE DAY WE BOTH RECEIVED OUR HARD EARNED PhD DEGREES IN THE CONVOCATION OF PANJAB UNIVERSITY THE VC ANNOUNCED THAT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN THE 100 YRS PLUS OLD HISTORY OF PANJAB UNIVERSITY THAT TWO MEMBERS OF THE SAME FAMILY RECEIVED THEIR DOCTORATE DEGREES IN SCIENCE FACULTY..BOTH ARE FROM JAFFNA ..NOTHING STOPPED THEIR PROGRESS …DETERMINATION WAS THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS THEIR ACADEMIC RECORDS INSPIRE ALL OF US ..BIG APPLAUSE FROM THE AUDIENCE -DEC,1991

    Dr.Raghavan Pathmanthan & Dr.Gayatri Pathmanathan

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      More grease to your elbow! Your sister’s too.

      Jeevan

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        THANKS PROFESSOR!!
        “MATURITY IS WHEN YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DESTROY SOMEONE WHO DID WRONG TO YOU JUST BREATHE WALKS AWAY LET THE LIFE CARE OF THEM”

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      SO inspiring, when one door shuts one opens!.

      To receive a response like “WE DO NOT REQUIRE YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS -JAFFNA UNIVERSITY (1989)” tells it all. Even if they didn’t need your service, there were lot of nice ways to respond but they chose words that make them happy to use.

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        Thanks for your understanding you are right, “one door closes many doors will open but we forget the reality and look at the closed door only and keep on mourning so we loose our chances

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          Thank you Dr Raghavan. It is a touching story that will lift the hearts of Tamil people who had to leave Sri Lanka in difficult circumstances.

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            ‘SUCCESS IS WHEN YOUR SIGNATURE TURNS INTO “AUTOGRAPH” :TOLD BY MY MENTOR,DR.A.J.P ABDUL KALAM

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    Dr.Raghavan

    Thanks, You have made all of us- Sri Lankan Tamils proud.

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      Thanks Sri Krish,

      REMEMBER!! “GOD GIVES THE HARDEST BATTLE TO HIS STRONGEST SOLDERS”
      SO NEVER AFRAID OF HARDSHIPS, POVERTY AND INJUSTICE

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    Sinhala_Man

    As you know, this country took the wrong turn at every crucial juncture, ended up where it is now. The nation building process failed, and failed miserably, because the policies that have been adapted as Social engineering were not based on justice, equality, democracy, skewed towards centralising and consolidating the powers of the few.

    Bottom down policy making lead to the current state of parochialism, only benefited the crooks.

    Hope you may give it a thought.

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    Dr Hoole,

    I know you are correct from my own past experience

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      Sri -Krish: Which part of his article are you saying is correct — damsels bathing on roadside? These are poor people whose only access to clean water is the municipality pipe on the roadside. Hoole suggests they were deliberately trying to attract the attention of university students. His imagination is amazing. Is this your observation too?

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    Sri Lanka’s high schools in 18 out of 23 districts could not produce a single engineer or doctor until 1979.

    A policy which allocated 45 engineering and 44 medical students from one elite group to another under-represented constituency contributed to the 30 year old Higher-Education War in Sri Lanka.

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    Well, a few things needs to be corrected. When Jaffna was disadvantaged so was Colombo and Kandy. On the opposite side it favoured Batticloa, Vanni and Galle however.

    So after 1973 there was hardly any difference in Ethnic ratio. What changed was the low-caste/high-caste Tamil ratio. It began to favour more lower caste Tamils.

    The following article describes the situation quite eloquently.

    https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-ethnic-conflict-in-Sri-Lanka/answer/Ramal-Ratne-1

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      So let me re-iterate, Colombo and Kandy students did not complain because they understand outstation students need a leg up.

      The reason Jaffa still complain is because your inherent backward nature because of the caste system. You despise when a low-caste Tamil becomes your equal.

      The reason Jaffna intake shot up to 90% was because of a practice known as “Horse Riding”. Tamils have low morals. I catch a Tamil lying almost every day here. The lying and cheating is almost like bread and butter to these Tamils.

      There is this idea that Sinhala people are “jealous” of Tamils. That is not so. The British artificially pumped Tamils up. They played the Tamils like they did the so called Rohingya.

      Click on my Avatar for more. So when you thought you were shinning because of inherent qualities that was wrong.

      You need to remember the mere reason Tamils were taken as laborers to Africa. Africa is full of laborers themselves. Tamils were cheaper than Africans because that is how low your people have gotten over the years.

      Don’t get all worked up when I referred to Jaffna Tamils as “high caste”. On the contrary all Tamils in Sri lanka are “untouchable” in one form or another.

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    It was much interesting to read the two articles by two senior university dons Dr.M.Y.M.Siddeek and Prof.Ratnajeevan S Hoole on affirmative action in the context of Sri Lankan university education. Personally I feel that the affirmative action was a blessing to Dr. Siddeek whereas it was a cursing to Prof.Ratnajeevan S Hoole. In my view the affirmative action has been increasingly used including most developed countries as a cure for all ills in the society – social class, gender, schooling, race, ethnicity, disability and residence etc. Social imbalance in these areas leads to negative perception and prejudice and ultimately leads to violence. For instance, Oxford and Cambridge admit 50% of students from private schools despite the fact these schools are educating only 7% of the children. This is a big social issue. Here wealth rather than ability is rewarded. Positive discrimination is the only answer to this ill. Another example is, in California positive discrimination has benefited Afro Americans at the expense of another minority group Asian American. A few days ago I was listening to White nationalist Richard Spencer. A major issue, among other things, he was raising was the white were under represented in major silicon valley corporation. The argument that the employees were recruited on merit basis won’t solve his problem. Positive discrimination is the answer for this. It is obvious in Sri Lanka positive discrimination iIt was much interesting to read the two articles by two senior university dons Dr.M.Y.M.Siddeek and Prof.Ratnajeevan S Hoole on affirmative action in the context of Sri Lankan university education. Personally I feel that the affirmative action was a blessing to Dr. Siddeek whereas it was a cursing to Prof.Ratnajeevan S Hoole. In my view the affirmative action has been increasingly used including most developed countries as a cure for all ills in the society – social class, gender, schooling, race, ethnicity, disability and residence etc. Social imbalance in these areas leads to negative perception and prejudice and ultimately leads to violence. For instance, Oxford and Cambridge admit 50% of students from private schools despite the fact these schools are educating only 7% of the children. This is a big social issue. Here wealth rather than ability is rewarded. Positive discrimination is the only answer to this ill. Another example is, in California positive discrimination has benefited Afro Americans at the expense of another minority group Asian American. A few days ago I was listening to White nationalist Richard Spencer. A major issue, among other things, he was raising was the white were under represented in major silicon valley corporation. The argument that the employees were recruited on merit basis won’t solve his problem. Positive discrimination is the answer for this. It is obvious in Sri Lanka positive discrimination in university admission benefited the Sinhalese and the Muslim communities at the expense of the Tamil community. If we admit 150 Tamil students to an Engineering faculty 200 students, this will lead to prejudice. Merits won’t justify it. So the issue is not one is superior to the other. We have to strike a balance between them.n university admission benefited the Sinhalese and the Muslim communities at the expense of the Tamil community. If we admit 150 Tamil students to an Engineering faculty 200 students, this will lead to prejudice. Merits won’t justify it. So the issue is not one is superior to the other. We have to strike a balance between them.

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      M A Kaleel
      What about an affirmative action to equate the advantage of Muslim population getting middle east job industry. Is it justifiable to reduce the percentage of muslims in government sector considering they are more likely to get more opportunities?

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        Affirmative action is a humanistic approach to help the less privileged. We shouldn’t think along ethnic line. See how affirmative action working in our neighbouring country India. In Tamil Nadu 80% of government jobs set aside in quotas. Dalits represent 27% of Indian population but their representation in senior civil servants position was 1.6%. After Affirmative action, it rose to 11.5%. I’m happy about it. And you?

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          M A Kaleel

          Thank you for bringing a fine example of positive affirmative action. However I am still struggling to justify the short and long term impacts of standardisation on higher education.

          Prof Hoole as well Sivasegaram and other learned commentators seem to disagree with your opinion that standardisation did not serve the country a lot of good. In addition the attitude and the comments by some of the Muslim commentators did not reflect a deeper understanding of the problems of standardisation in my opinion. At least you did not stoop to the levels of MYM Sydeek cried foul stating this the Jaffna mentality.

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    This is what CR de Silva is supposed to have said “… In 1964 for instance Sri Lankan Tamils held 37.2%of places in Science and Engineering courses, 40.5% in medicine and Dentistry. In 1970 they made up 35.5% of all admissions to science based courses, obtaining 40.8% of the places in Engineering and 40.9% of the places in Medicine” (C.R. de Silva, The Sri Lanka Journal of Social Science, 1978, p. 86, 87).
    This reference seems to be to the batch admitted just before standardization.

    The author Laduwahetti then cites the Hansard to discuss admissions considered for 1971 (which was probably SRH’s batch). The figures could be in error or for another faculty.
    “When admission to the Peradeniya University was considered this year (1971) it was found that the eligible candidates consisted of 100 Tamils, 58 Sinhalese, 3 Moors and 1 Burgher” (Hansard, Vol. 93, No. 5, 1970, 12.14 – 1971 3.23).
    The author then proceeds to say:
    This total reversal from the numbers admitted prior to media wise admission is what caused the Government to explore mechanisms to correct this anomaly. The first attempt resulted in Standardization. However, “The scheme when implemented created great and acrimonious debate. Nevertheless, in retrospect it appears that that its impact was relatively small…(because) they still held 36.9% of the places in Medicine and the total number of Tamils entering science based courses was 347, only 12 less than the 1971 figure and actually 10 more than the 1970 figure of 337” (C.R. de Silva, p.90).
    [Source: http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=145551%5D

    If at all, there is some rationalization in CR de Silva’s comment– but I am not his keeper.

    From the foregoing, the percentage of Tamils jumped from 40.8 to perhaps 75% prior to standardization. I used the figure of 80% as the news media had it at the time and I stand corrected.
    But the scale of the error is not as big as SRH makes out as the point was not whether it was a jump from 50% to 75% for Tamils as SRH would have it or around 41% to 75% as the data of CR deS show.

    The drop in number of Sinhalese from the perspective of a typical middle-class Sinhalese is massive: i.e. from 75 to 35 or so (as SRH would think) or 89 to 35 based on CRdeS.
    That troubled the middle class Sinhalese.

    To the Jaffna Tamil middle class, the number admitted to Peradeniya dropped from an anticipated 115 or so to much fewer than 50 after standardization.
    That was unacceptable.

    This is my understanding: there is a world of difference between understanding and justifying anything.

    My own view of university admissions all along has been that there is case for positive discrimination through some manner of standardization based on region and school– not medium of examination — as they correlated well with family income and access to good education.

    I wrote a fairly detailed comment to Janavegaya in 1974, which was published in the Tamil version of the paper but not translated to Sinhala. The case for the disadvantaged student rejected the district quota system (which helped to weaken Tamil political opposition to standardization to the point of Anandasangaree wanting Kilinochchi to be made a separate district for education and development purposes). The beneficiaries of the District Quota were the well to do who registered the children in a local school and got them taught elsewhere.

    Re my comments on class size:
    It was only meant to clarify a doubt raised by SRH in his comment on a class of ten after his batch: I suggested that it could have been at Katubedde. I am aware that from 1974 with Sunmanadasa as VC, UoSL, Colombo students were almost forcibly sent to Moratuwa for a few years running and all Jaffna students to Peradeniya. Thus Katubedde got many good students in the mid 1970’s and Peradeniya retained a sizeable number of Tamil students.

    In my comment I went by the sizes of class that I taught. In 1971 (the first standardized batch) I taught around 40. The numbers were like 40 for a while but went up with time.
    I do not remember teaching any class of 20 students in the First Year. If there is anyone from a Peradeniya batch of 20 Tamils around, I would gladly be corrected.
    I remember that typically a little under a third of each batch was Tamils (This includes Muslims.) Tamil students have since 1983 grown less keen on Peradeniya for many reasons and now Tamil medium students perhaps make less than 25% of the class.

    I thank SRH for the humility in his request. But regret inability to oblige as the guesswork is wrong. I never considered the 70-77 regime to be left; and in my writings then and now I have been critical of many things including standardization and the Constitution of 1972.
    So there was no agenda of any kind imagined.

    BTW, I was always under the impression that marks were normalized with a common mean & SD for media wise standardization. (That may explain why SRH’s younger brother got lower grades than he is supposed to have.)
    SRH seems to assert that there was a constant bonus mark for the Sinhala medium. But the media-based difference in cut-off marks for Engineering in 1970-71 seems unlike that for Medicine. I hope that SRH will kindly shed some light on the discrepancy.
    (I agree that either way the net result would have been the same for Engineering; but not for the Sciences.)

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      Res ipsa loquitur (Latin for “the thing speaks for itself”). People can see for themselves.

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        Ditto

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    It was much interesting to read the two articles by two senior university dons Dr.M.Y.M.Siddeek and Prof. Ratnajeevan S Hoole on affirmative action in the context of Sri Lankan university education. Personally I feel that the affirmative action was a blessing to Dr. Siddeek whereas it was a cursing to Prof.Ratnajeevan S Hoole. In my view the affirmative action has been increasingly used in many countries including most developed countries as a cure for all ills in the society – social class, gender, schooling, race, ethnicity, disability and residence etc. Social imbalance in these areas leads to negative perception and prejudice and ultimately leads to violence. For instance, Oxford and Cambridge admit 50% of students from private schools despite the fact these schools are educating only 7% of the children. This is a big social issue. Here wealth rather than ability is rewarded. Positive discrimination is the only answer to this ill. Another example is, in California positive discrimination has benefited Afro Americans at the expense of another minority group Asian American. A few days ago I was listening to White nationalist Richard Spencer. A major issue, among other things, he was raising was the white were under represented in major silicon valley corporations. The argument that the employees were recruited on merit basis won’t solve his problem. Positive discrimination is the answer for this. It is obvious in Sri Lanka positive discrimination in university admission benefited the Sinhalese and the Muslim communities at the expense of the Tamil community. If we admit 150 Tamil students to an Engineering faculty of 200 students, this will lead to prejudice. Merits won’t justify it. So the issue is not one is superior to the other. We have to strike a balance between them. (My previous reply was interpersed. Regret the inconvenience caused to the readers. Reproduced here.)

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    Sinhalese are racist against their own kind. They thought their people were so inferior to the Tamils that they needed special privileges like affirmative action to compete with their superior Tamil counterpart. Probably the first nation to receive affirmative action while being the majority.

    Perhaps they might be right. Tamils using their own intelligence, innovativeness and efforts created a national military compromising of air and sea forces. In the 90s they gained many victories and were able to control large parts of Tamil Eelam and establish a de facto state. Sinhala military generals openly admitted the superiority of Pirabakaran and his military. All of this despite Sinhalese enjoying the privilege of internationally recognised statehood, numerical and technological superiority and being supported by other major nation states via arms, training and intelligence.

    No wonder Sinhalese were threatened by Tamils despite them being the minority.

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    Thank you for disclosing that 103 out of 150 engineering intakes were Tamil medium students in 1970. It justifies the need for standardization in the country. Thank you for also disclosing that there were moles inside examination department who offered medical faculty admission to Tamil students. It justifies replacement of standardization with more transparent district quota system.

    Prof. Hoole, please learn to appreciate democracy and equality. With big headed Jaffna mentality, you stole the bread of everybody else in the country. You never cared about Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims living outside Jaffna district. Horse riding and bits in exams are Jaffna inventions. Shame on you.

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      Dr Hoole:

      “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.”

      Villageman:
      “Thank you for disclosing that 103 out of 150 engineering intakes were Tamil medium students in 1970.”

      But, the numbers I see:
      1969/1970:
      Field——–Sinhala —–Tamil —-Total
      Engineering– 77 —– 72 —- 149
      Medicine — 112 —– 112 —- 229

      1970/1971:
      Field——–Sinhala —–Tamil —-Total
      Engineering– 85 —– 62 —- 152
      Medicine — 132 —– 101 —- 247

      Villageman:
      “Thank you for also disclosing that there were moles inside examination department who offered medical faculty admission to Tamil students. “

      I wonder why Villageman wants to misinterpret here. As I read it, Mr Nesiah was blocked so that the cheating business could be done without any scrutiny. Mole? Hmmm……

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      Villageman,

      Good point “Thank you for also disclosing that there were moles inside examination department who offered medical faculty admission to Tamil students.”!

      Further, Jeevan in his need for detailed story telling describes “Through these sources she found out that her raw mark in Physics (giving her a pass)…” Privileged information?

      I wonder what the SLAS Officer working as a Deputy Director under Bandaranaike did aside from politely declining the fraudster’s offer? What should the civic responsibility, especially of an SLAS Officer, be in those circumstances?

      Come to think of it, then perhaps Jeevan being dropped out of the Peradeniya list may not be entirely driven by standardization alone, but by other Tamil, and even perhaps Sinhala students getting their marks fraudulently “adjusted” via these back channels – right?

  • 4
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    Interesting details on what many quote as the root of the Tamil-Sinhala problem.

    “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.” … Prof Hoole

    “That not always the case. The split was 50-50 for admission in 1960. (The First Year was then conducted by the Science Faculty).
    The proportion of Sinhalese students had since been noticeably better than 60% as far as I well remember between 1960 and 1966 (first as a student and then Assistant Lecturer). I doubt if the percentage of Tamils admitted typically exceeded 35% between 1966 and 1970.

    The jump to nearly 80% Tamils was most unusual and, given the divisive attitudes then, there was reason for an average Sinhalese to be suspicious.” … Prof Sivasegaram

    In a population of 14 million where Jaffna Tamils ( I am assuming most of these places went to Jaffna Tamils rather than Batticaloa or Indian Tamils as has been the trend over the years) what is the probability of an average 50-60% share of the Univ places dropping overnight to 18% in the absence of any external influences? A simple statistical calculation would demonstrate that the odds are something like winning the lottery.

    So if Professor B.A. Abeywickrama inquired into it his and found no irregularities I would say he also needs to explain how then the anomaly could have happened. I suspect this inquiry was no different to inquiries that take place today which end up in a white wash, although I do understand his possible motives for it. He would have realised the potential explosive nature of the problem and chose the finding in order to calm the Sinhala Right which very likely would have been baying for blood. There may also have been pressures from powerful and well meaning people in the Govt. who foresaw a tragedy (N.M, Colvin..?)

    As Dr. Hoole is making comparisons with the west I would like to point out that there would be an equal outcry in the west if it ever turned out that Asian students were almost 40 times more likely to enter Ox-bridge or the Ivy League as a native white student, especially where these Asians were examined opaquely in their own language and by their own kind. Already there is well entrenched (and necessary) affirmative action in these countries where state schools are favoured above private schools and poorly represented groups are favoured above well represented groups in education and even in jobs both in the private and public sector. Diversity is a buzzword everywhere.

    Tamils have indeed punched above their weight in Sri Lanka and I would readily grant them a slight edge in the cerebral and entrepreneurial department. Perhaps 50% smarter at most. But Hoole is expecting us to accept a 4000% superiority. (Based on being 40 times more likely to enter university).

    This all goes to show the unintended damage caused by the Swabhasha policy. A classic own-goal by Sinhala Nationalists.

    It also goes to show how some Tamils see the denial of a hugely advantagous position as just another form of persecution. Today, Tamil students from Jaffna enjoy favourable affirmative action as the Z-mark required of them is lower than that for most Sinhalese majority districts. However I have never seen a mention of any good will arising this. Just the carping on by the likes of Hoole about a perceived travesty visited upon the Tamils by the Sinhalese 45 years ago for 2 years, where they refused to award free education (with their taxes) to a disproportionately large group of Tamils and just accept that Sihalese are just a bunch of uncultured dim wits who bathe half naked by the roadside in order to seduce the better looking Tamils. LOL!!

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      dingiri

      What is your conclusion after weighing up the pros and cons of the above comments?

      Do you think that the Sinhala students did have the automatic right to enter best universities and best degree courses?

      Do you accept the Tamil students cheated in the university admission process?

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        I know Sri Lanka well enough to say all three communities are versed in in the field of cheating. You may have heard of the recent episode in the Law College where the deputy principal is suspected to have leaked the Law College Entrance question paper to a tutory in Wellawatte where the students were predominantly Moslem. The percentage of moslems especially the percentage of Moslems from that particular tutory gaining entry sky rocketted to such an improbable level that even moslems who did not go to that tutory were crying foul. Of course the inquiry found nothing. The deputy principal was politically well connected.

        So yes. These things do happen. Not just in Sri Lanka but in all of South Asia – if that makes you feel better.

        As to your second point, “Do you think that the Sinhala students did have the automatic right to enter best universities and best degree courses?” No. But I do believe the best among the Sinhalese are almost (I am being generous here) as good as Tamils. I wouldnt see anything wrong with 50% of university places going to Tamils who make up 12%. They are an industrious and enterprising people (although the Sinhalese are catching up). But if 70& of the places go to just 7% Jaffna Tamils and just 18% go to the Sinhalese who make up 73% I would suspect something went wrong. Cheating on a large scale could well be one of them. I would not discount it. May be they should have retested the ones who gained entry under better superwised conditions to test the theory that the aberration was purely a random statistical spike.

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          Dingiri
          Although I disagree with you regarding reasons for disproportionate number of Tamils got higher marks in early seventies, I like the way you showed introspection as well as reflection on the effects of standardisation in your comments .

          By the time I was in colombo medical faculty in mid 90s sinhala students were certainly outperforming by virtue of brilliance as well as numbers. While it is justifiable to achieve these targets for the greater good of country,some elements seems to provocate the Tamils with their cock and Bull stories on standardisation.

          I thank Dr Hoole for writing an intellectual rejoinder for MYM Sydeek’s piece on standardisation.

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            “in mid 90s”
            by that time all the high-achieving Tamils had already left the country and settled abroad.

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          dingiri

          “But I do believe the best among the Sinhalese are almost (I am being generous here) as good as Tamils.”

          The past history shows both are stupid.

          “Cheating on a large scale could well be one of them. I would not discount it.”

          Lets assume cheating on large scale did happen. Disproportionate numbers managed to sneak into Engineering/Medical faculty, who didn’t have the required standards. Naturally they wouldn’t have cooped with “intellectually” challenging courses. Most Jaffna students would have dropped out in the first or second year, unable to endure the duration of the course. Logically drop out rate among the cheaters would have been much higher than the norm.

          Could you let us have a break down of drop outs in the ensuing period, analysed under region, race, language, course, …..

          I am only trying to test your hypothesis.

          By the way how did Namal get himself admitted to Law College and finally passed his examinations with flying colours?

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            I think it is you who have made a wrong premise here. Once you get in to medicine and engineering it is not difficult to complete provided you have a degree of discipline and are not distracted. I would say nearly 40% of school going kids are intelligent enough to get through the hurdles once they get into university. The reason they do not get places is not because they are too stupid. It is because the number of places are so limited.

            There used to be a small number of places in University open to “foreign students” and those who have represented Sri Lanka in sports. I knew a few of these students and I can vouch that there were a few “foreign students” who would not even have passed their A’Levels leave alone obtain the required marks to get in. But they got through their exams and passed out. I dont know of any who dropped out.

            Today a large number of middle class kids are going overseas for their education. Many of them would not have got into Sri Lankan universities had they tried. But they seem to cope overseas and facebook is littered with exuberant photos of their graduation. So there.

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    “Tamils […] I would readily grant them a slight edge in the cerebral and entrepreneurial department.”

    No thanks. Belief in such edge made us march to massacre!

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    Dr.Ratnajeevan Hoole.

    Standardisation was in essence a scheme introduced by SiriMao to rob Peter to pay Paul!
    In this case Peter refers to a Tamil and Paul to a non-Tamil.
    You are dead right when you say that this issue was the launching pad for the armed revolt of the Tamils.So,logically,SiriMao fired the first salvo!

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