By Kumar David –
An aged man is but a paltry thing
A tattered coat upon a stick
Unless soul clap its hands and sing
For every tatter in that mortal dress
–WB Yeats (I can’t remember where)
Various folks have weighed in on the FUTA initiated demand, now taken on by the public at large (it’s not FUTA’s business anymore, it’s now we the people’s business), that 6% of GDP be budgeted by the State for education. Yes that’s right 6% of GDP, yes it’s 20% of government expenditure as per the 2011 Estimates. I write this perfectly cognizant of the facts and figures. Aged, past their useful-shelf-life Central Bank bureaucrats and ill informed lesser persons please note that intelligent Lanka is aware of the statistics. As Obama said of Romney, some people shoot their mouths first and take aim later.
This piece will use data provided by Professor Dileepa Witharana at a symposium conducted by FUTA in Colombo on 19 September, but should some figure here or there, or some decimal be imprecise, I stand by my case on the basis of broadly accredited knowledge. The telling comparison is that Lanka is the lousiest among many nations graphed in the accompanying illustration in respect of our (meaning the Rajapakse state’s) commitment to education. Is it surprising then that literacy, which had peaked at 99% before 2005, has now fallen back to 94% and is declining?
Notwithstanding the pleadings of the Uswatte Arachis and such like slayers of education, as a percentage of GDP and state expenditure, we are behind Bangladesh(heaven help!),Nepal,Pakistan and India. So what are these aged types trying to do? Is their purpose to construct a case for further numbing public universities to pave the way for private alternatives with the side benefit that contingent parties can line their pockets? Or in their blindness will they end up breeding another generation of Tigers and 1971-Insurrectionists?
The most telling item in the FUTA data set is comparison of Lankan state expenditure on education with a gamut of countries stratified by income level. The data in tabular form shows Lanka at 2.06% of GDP (2009 data), lower than any country grouping. At 8.08% of budget spending it is again the lowest. By 2011 the first number had fallen to 1.9% of GDP and in 2012 I believe it is even less flattering.
Even in the low to middle income country group, where Lanka belongs, the average expenditure is over 4%. Therefore to redress the sustained damage that has been done by budgetary slashing on education since Mahinda Rajapakse took office, expenditure must be raised to 6% of GDP for five years, though thereafter the capital component can be gradually scaled to reduce the total to 4.5% of GDP.
All governments in South Asia spend more than Lanka as a percentage of GDP:Bangladesh(2.23%), Buhtan (4.63),India(3.09%),Maldives(8.71%),Nepal(4.66%) and Pakistan(2.69%) while Lanka is 1.9%. All of them also spend more than Lanka as a proportion of state expenditure, ranging from a high of 19% in Nepal to a low of 11% India, while poor Lanka limps along at a mere 8%.
The coup de grace to the motley crew of apologists who have raised their heads in recent weeks is the precipitate decline in the Rajapakse years in government spending on universities. Of the miserly 8% it now spends on education as a whole, a mere 1.2% reaches the universities as the graph shows.
Nobody in his right mind will suggest that the university’s share be increased by cutting the miserable allocations made to schools. No the point is this; there has been a precipitate overall decline because of factors I will touch on before closing. I do not know for how long the Rajapakse-SB Dissanayake-IMF combine has been hatching to administer extreme unction to the public university system, degrade it to third rate borstals for the yakko class and open the royal road to private fee levying institutions of higher education. The graph suggests the plot has been brewing since the early years of Rajapakse’s first term.
One final matter and I am done for the day. According to the budget allocations for 2012 the top five ministries in order of funding are Finance and Planning (47%), Defence & Urban Planning (10.5%), Ports & Highways (6.6%), Public Administration (6.3%) and Local Government & Provincial Councils (5.9%). About 40% of the 47% swallowed by the Finance Ministry is for debt servicing. Conditions are worsening as the government is getting deeper into debt by the day; it is into the business of acquiring more debt to service unsustainable existing debt. This is aggravated as the regime runs amok with vast and wasteful white-elephant show case grandiosities.
In the circumstances not only is the government unwilling to improve provision of public goods like health, education, transport and energy, it is also readying to crush dissent since that is the only language dictators know to speak. How to remove dictators is a Herculean task that national opinion is now beginning to ask itself.
Bruno Umbato / September 30, 2012
Ignorant and outdated?
Yes, Ofcourse Sir! A mirror may help you to find out who….
Pleas read “Global Business Policy Council” report on May 2012 to get little bit balance ….
I quote only a tiny bit from the report ..
Since colonial times, Sri Lanka has excelled in education quality compared to other developing countries. With free primary and secondary education in place since 1938 and an extensive university system, Sri Lanka’s education systems are top level. Sri Lanka’s literacy rate has exceeded 85 percent for more than 30 years and is currently 91 percent, while literacy levels in most countries in South Asia have been lower than 60 percent until quite recently. Sri Lanka still has the highest secondary school enrollment rate among developing countries in the benchmark group, and it ranks number one in South Asia on the United Nations Human Development Index (see figure 7).”
Read this professor … SL rank number one in south Asia ..
You say “…All governments in South Asia spend more than Lanka as a percentage of GDP:Bangladesh(2.23%), Buhtan (4.63),India(3.09%),Maldives(8.71%),Nepal(4.66%) and Pakistan(2.69%) while Lanka is 1.9%. …”
They should spend much much more professor, just to catch up with SL because their literacy rates are so pathetic …
Literacy rates – Bangladesh 56% , India 62%, Pakistan 55 %
SRI LANKA 91%
Does it mean SL should not do more for education?
No… SL should do more and more .. but should not let these people to cover up and portray SL as a failed state to satisfy their fantasies …
Hiding under various statistics and selective use of data, professor has not only deceive public but also exposes his agenda … Agenda being the ‘regime change’ whatever means … Without making a case for a ‘regime change’, they just went to choosing the winning horse … He realized it late and tried to make a case … If you read his case for the regime change, you end up in asking “Is that all, professor?” …
SL never was a five star democracy or even a third star democracy … But, comparable to other countries in that part of Asia, it has not done bad … Even with JR, democarcy survived … Can you remember the times when JRJ got signed resignation letters with no date even from the political giants like Lalith A and Gamini D? …
Then comes the corruption .. This is a how one sl newspaper reminded about it …
“It may be recalled that in the early 1990s, when a bold move was made to impeach the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa, he vented his spleen on the architects of the impeachment motion, former Minister of Trade and Commerce Lalith Athulathmudali and former Mahaweli Minister Gamini Dissanayake, accusing them of having swallowed ships and chugalugged the Mahaweli Ganga respectively ekkenek nev gilla anith ekkena Mahawelia gilla. Not to be outdone, Lalith and Gamini used choice Sinhala slang to ridicule their bete noire eya mulu ratma kewa or he ate (read `ruined`) the whole country. The impeachment attempt came a cropper but it shed light on how political leaders at that time had been lining their pockets at the expense of the public. “
The corruptions, lack of democracy and ugly behavior of politicians are nothing new and it is a part and parcel of srilankan baila politics .. Ofcourse it is Very bad way of running a country .. There is no doubt about it and people of SL should do everything to stop it … But, talking all these things as a NEW phenomenon in SL is bs talk .. That is where ‘agenda’ of these guys comes into play …
Some are for quick bucks/ dollars, some are for to become EP/PM/ministers to start corruptions and bad things all over again ….
Some highly ‘educated’ for showing off their ‘virtues as a human beings’ ..
And, some are to deny the rightful place to the majority called Sinhalese Budhists …
List goes on guys! Look where you fit in …
Senaka / September 30, 2012
All the countries of South Asia are basket cases of corruption, ignorance and militarization so no need to feel so great about comparing Lanka with South Asia. Lets take Singapore which once aspired to be Sri lanka as a comparison since Rajapass spews out nonsense about Lanka being a “knowledge hub” on thin air farts I presume!
Of course the University Dons have got used to blaming the govt. for all things and avoid taking responsibility and being held accountable. The fact is that many university Dons, particularly, Colombo university Sociology department which has half baked people in it, do not want to and have avoided hiring highly qualified foreign trained academics as Professor because they are threatened by their accomplishments. They delay the recruitment process, also Open University does the same, and hence highly qualified people get tired of waiting and walk away.. The Dons and university admin need to take responsibility for this sorry state of affairs..
Raja / September 30, 2012
are you saying we reduce our literacy rate to match with oher countries region. With lesser literacy rate, they still do better. While we service debts they make money. It is not only the university, the whole govt stinks worst than ever. Premadas gave the infrasturure and the Garment Industry. Gamini gave Mahaweli waters for irrigation. Raja[akse gave us only war crimes If people like you can not understand, better not exhibit yopur ignorance
C.W.Austin / September 30, 2012
Natioanl education percentage will decied by after there are many annomolies of Salay and wages of Dons as well as Stuents accomodation system of Higher education having are still unsloved problems remain in State univerties Country.Our education as whole far lagging behind of present Golbal standared. We as nation many oustanding probles remain last 64 years.Urgaent need address major issuses address without delay by Ruling party.
China Doll / September 30, 2012
To broaden its social base and support FUTA needs to reach out to all old boys and girls of the university alumai of the sri lanka university system, There are many highly distinguished former university students in all professions working as professionals and among the retired professionals as well, for support in their campaign..
The alumna/alumni is a base that they much tap and set up a strong alumnai group to support and fund base for the struggle to save the National University system from a regime full of ignorant, uneducated criminals, thugs and fools that has not got a clue about real development, starting with so called Minister of Economic Development who is a high school drop out.