17 September, 2019

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The March Of The Academics

The March Of The Academics: The FUTA Marches From Galle To Colombo

By Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi from Amabalangoda –

Dr.Liyanage Amarakeerthi

The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations(FUTA) is continuing its trade union action into the third month now. Though the government’s response to the strike has been rather lukewarm with no concrete offers to the strikers so far, the strength of academics is growing steadily. The government, which is still narcissistically arrogant about its own prowess, seems to think that it can ignore the academics until they starve to death after missing their third salary. Yes. They were not paid for three months. Of course some academics who are better known as pro-state ‘yes-men’ than as true academics, did get paid but not the majority of academics who are known for their publications and international standard qualifications. There is a small minority of academics regularly coming to the state-owned media to criticize the striking academics. Everyone cows that these critics are just ‘housekeepers’ of the state. If one asks for their academic credentials they will run for their life. And as usual, some ministerial thugs are beating the drum which is all-too familiar to many of us by now: All these academics are NGO-Funded conspirators!
In the mean time, the FUTA has slowly been reaching the masses with its the most-socially significant message. That is none other than the demand for 6% of GDP for education. Well, it is not everyone’s expense of education. The FUTA demands that the state expenditure on education must reach at least 6% of GDP by the year of 2015 or so. Right now, it is about 1.86% which is the lowest in the region, and almost the lowest in the world! This slogan has captivated many people already including all major political parties. Even the UNP which is traditionally believed to be the local agents of global capitalism, also has been supporting the FUTA’s slogan of 6% of GDP for education.

As a mechanism of pressurizing the government to address its demands, and as an attempt to reach out to the masses with this appealing slogan, the FUTA started a history-making march from from Galle to Colombo today (24th of September). The overnight rain had made in and around the historic Dutch Port rather gloomy by 7am on today. Only one or two organizers were seen protecting themselves from the heavy rain by 8am when the march was supposed to begin. In a magical moment of nature, the sun appeared all of a sudden and the opening ceremony of the march took place. All the religious readers of the multicultural Galle had arrived. As usual the dominance of the Buddhism in our culture was visible but it did almost no harm to the multicultural nature of the gathering. Buddhist monks, Catholic, Christian, Hindu, Muslim priests, Marxists, who are supposed to be atheists, some UNPers belonging all religions were there. The FUTA had invited everyone who supports the 6% of GDP demand regardless of their political inclinations. So, there were Sajith Premadasa, Sarath Fonseka, Mangala Samaraweera, Jayalah Jayawadane, Vijitha Herath, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Sirithunga Jayasuriya to name a few. The elite participants belonged to a wide spectrum political colors which no one can claim to be biased to any one party.

So the march began with a rainbow of political colors. But the actual rain returned soon. But it only highlighted the dedication of the participants. Nearly three thousand marchers defied the heavy rain and, with theirs cloths soaked, nearly all of them stayed on the course.

Even in the heavy rain, people stopped by the road to encourage the marchers. The FUTA leadership led the march while the others followed. Regardless of their own political identities, the politicians walked under the banners supporting the slogans about education putting aside their party colors.
The success of the FUTA is of course has been its unprecedented ability to get people to support a common slogan. The FUTA was able to convince a considerable number of people that the free education has been a social revolution in Sri Lanka, and the free education has been the single most important factor making Sri Lanka a success story in social-democratic programs such as free education and free health care. That is why the FUTA’s message has been dear to everyone who listens to it. This march will only gather people around this most socially significant trade union action in the recent history.

Soaking my cloths in rain, I finished the the first leg of the march from Galle to Ambalangoda with my  spirited colleagues. When I finish this note, at 9pm, I am already feeling that I have been a part of a historical event.

 

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    FUTA, may you grow from strength to strength

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      Thank god for FUTA! Keep up the good work – Be of good courage!
      Please stick to your great principles and ensure that the right human and development policies are followed (e.g. investment in health and education), rather than on stupid white lephant infrastructure projects for Chinese-led militarization of South and South East Asia and tourism and various useless tamashas like Common Welath Games bids and parliamentary cricuses and car races and sports extravaganzas..
      The real wealth and growth of a county is measured by 1) the number of good jobs generated 2) manufcturing and industrial sector 3) educated and skilled labor force 4) natural resources..
      The Rajapakse development plan is confined to services for tourism – low end jobs -which is why economic migrants, and boat people and qualified professionals are brain draining from the cournty despite end of war..

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      FUTA great work! The professionals and educated classes of Lanka who know what real development and democracy is all about support your valiant struggle. We will be with you in Colombo and welcome you to the city on Friday!

      you are our last hope since the political opposition and political parties (especailly Ranil W of the UNP) of this country are so morally and intellectually bankrupt and incapable of opposing the Rajapakse dictatorship at this time!

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      Latest news flash is that Malaka Silva is going to take over from the clown S.B Disanayake the so called Minister of Higher Education and will break FUTA strike by directing the armed forces and Army Majors from the JAIC Hilton Bar!

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        Yes, when looking at the minister who run today Ministries present day, even Juliampitya amare could be a better candidate to run the ministry of the education of SL next. The folks and the country have gone to DOGS under the current DUMMIES.

        This country has reached it appalling levels today- although MR behaves as if he is not aware ( Beeri aliya wage – No matter even Majors are being assaulted – he has to support Mervin by betraying the entire nation) :(

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      This will be the waterloo of this corrupted regime. People will be able to breath in soon.

      May you all stregth and courage to gain fair demands – JAYA WEWA SRILANKA

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    The writer says that “The FUTA demands that the state expenditure on education must reach at least 6% of GDP by the year of 2015 or so. Right now, it is about 1.86%….” I must frankly say that the public has not been adequately made aware of this stance of the FUTA. May be it is their fault or may be media negligence. The other issues like salaries, consultations, depoliticization etc are managerial issues that can be solved by negotiations if the larger issue of financing is sorted out and if committed to the cause.

    However, the main issue is the 6% provision in the Budget. FUTA does not demand that it should be done in 2013. I wonder whether this status had been shared with the government. It can start with a reasonable increase and gradually increase it to 6% by 2015, on a declared time frame. I saw another announcement by artistes of repute giving comparative figures of budgetary provisions and those too support such increase.

    I haste to add that from FUTA end it is essential it gives an action plan with expenditure projections and expected returns projections to ensure that money’s worth is gained by the country by enhancing budgetary provisions. It will lubricate arguments for a larger provision in the budget as the Treasury is faced with extremely competitive demands for resources. By that some of the useless arguments made by some politicians, some bureaucrats and some in the media can be shattered.

    I wish the President sees through this status and involve in this matter rather than allowing some biased politicians and bureaucrats to decide on this.

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      The rupee has lost 30 percent against the dollar so to stop brain drain FUTA needs to ask for a 50 percent salary increase, and 10 percent GDP increase for education sector! Qualified academics with PhDs overseas earn in foreign currency and will not go back to Sri lanka to earn 350$ per month as a senior lecturer – an insult!
      Today in Lanka only the Rajpakses and related crony capitalist are making money. Every one else is suffering due to the rupee loosing value and purchasing power due to the stinking corruption and borrowing from every corner by that criminal Cabraal at the Central Bank who has mortgaged the cournty..
      Meanwhile bloody Ranil W is twiddling his thumbs while Rome burns and won’t let anyone who can win elections take over the UNP.. which is today run by a morally bankrupt power hungry dictator (Ranil) in the mold of and supporting Rajapakse the megalomaniac. Lanka has become an unbelievable banana republic with with one family running the country – even worse than Libiya under Gadhafi..

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        Quite right.. The professionals will join FUTA and begin the long march for regime change! Stay the course FUTA! –
        Rajapakse may win provincial elections by abuse of power, but most people in the country are fed up of the corrupt regime and concerned about the rising CoL and support you..

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      Austin be frank. If you think you are smart, why don’t you calculate the percentage of waste spent on unnecessary foreign trips by MR and his cohorts, the amount spent on govt. tamashas to prop up a false image for MR, including the payment to Bell Pottinger & Co. The billions spent on grandiose projects with no immediate return to society or the country. The amount spent on governance duplicating and triplicating the Administration costs of this country, affording an opportunity to the riff raff to be somebody as Ministers and their catchers as mere sychophants, a base to insure MR’s position. I am certain if these unnecessary costs are avoided without affording a set of nincompoops to live on public funds, there will be money not merely a 6% but possibly much more for education of the masses in this country.

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    Well done FUTA. Keep going. You are setting a trend for the cause of education and the good future of the country. Obstacles can be many but a relentless struggle will finally succeed. Good Luck.

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    FUTA claims they didn’t get their salary. Did they work to get salary? THey are 100% sure once they stop the strike, they will get all that money

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      What a genius you are to figure that out!!!

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      Tell me how many people in the Government sector WORK and get a salary ? These people deserve their salaries much more than most state sector employees…..at least they are fighting for a just cause !

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    The FUTA claim ,I think ,is about 1% of the wound of the nation presently suffering. Also, it is a result of having no policies in all areas in the country. No policies in Education,Agriculture,Economy,Security,Industries,Transport,Foreign Affairs,Elections etc. No Independence in police , Judicial Services,Administration ,and other main sectors in the country. So, at the movement the FUTA ,as the think and knowledge tank, in the country must forward all these issues in front of the nation and must try to solve those issues for ever. Then, it will be a historical event in the country.
    Then,all the intelligent people will gather around the movement for a eternal solution for the countries eternal problems.

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    Great job FUTA,I hope you can enlighten more citizens in the country as most are so apethetic to issues as long as it does not affect them in the near term. Please do not let losers like the UNP and Sarath. F hijack your cause as they are as bankrupt as the Govt and will try to get milage out on your backs and when in power do the same.Good luck

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    Capitalist always highlight the capitalist agenda ignoring the poor IUSF who is also agitating to safeguard free education, CT has ignored their march from kandy.

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    It’s all good that FUTA is fighting for reforms in the education system, but at the same time should be concern about the plight of the students, university students, students whose awaits for the university entrance, students who had completed their AL exam. no academic activity for university students for the last two months, some waiting with half completed yearly exams, students who are awaiting to enter the universities after Z score ordeal are waiting in anguish as it is getting indefinitely delayed, then the students who sat for AL exam wondering as to when they would be getting there results as the paper marking possibility had become a remote sight, Govt seems not moved simply because none of the decision makers children are effected, they could either send them to foreign universities or those who are not interested on education could put them to practice the lucrative profession of politics, so who is suffering? its average students whose parents are helpless and voiceless who had caught in this vicious and protracted battle which neither party willing to give in. It was earlier the JVP controlled student unions with the drop of a hat go in to strikes, this was controlled to some extent, then the academic staff started, whether good or bad still continuing, then the non academic staff waiting to see the results of academic’s so that they could commence another strike demanding more perks, there seems to be no ending to this activity, so after 30 years of terrorism, war and painful distraction to civilian life, we as a nation are still suffering from this type of distractions, affluent and influential section of the society, their children by now have left the country which is a loss to the parents and to the country as well, because very few will return after their education, then not so affluent are planning to send their children by adopting various methods, disposing properties, securing financial loans undergoing grate pain and inconvenience, the majority who could afford none of this, what would be the answer? it’s time that average parent should think on this seriously, ultimately it is the country’s youths who are effected, there valuable time, energy is waste in vain

    It is their fundamental rights that been violated, as what happened in the Z score episode, the brilliant academics and the administrators were arrogant and neither party had wanted to sort that out until the supreme court get involved and given a ruling, similarly here too neither authorities nor the academic listen or give any consideration to the plight of the average student, because they are so arrogant, refuse to accept defeat, so the parents/student should get together and need to petition the supreme court of the island for depriving and violating of their rights, like Indefinite delaying of AL results, prolong continuation of strike action denying there higher education, chance of getting employment and the delay in university selection. Soon the independence of judiciary will diminish like many other good things in the country, so this action should not be delayed.

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      If the action of the FUTA is accepted to be good, it is the Govt. who should be blamed for the consequent harm that the strike is causing to University students and other problems. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the people to bring pressure on the Govt. to address the issues sincerely and give solutions. No worker, let him be of any category, would wish to lose his salary by going on strike without any reason. It is a great sacrifice he makes be it for his own right or for a general cause. The people must rally behind and support such agitators and expose the dishonest politicians.

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    FUTA is not out on strike for the love of Education , but because of the love for money. They may perhaps be able to do what the terrorist Prabhakaran failed to do. Change the Regime, and send President Mahinda Rajapakse home. Which government will then be able to keep the momentum of progress going. None. The University Dons may then have to go abroad to find jobs-” whatever job”.

    The University Dons are not the winners they and the country will be the loosers if the government is forced to increase salaries each time a trade union goes out on strike demanding salary increases. They cannot understand that salary increase is not a solution to lower cost of living, it will only result in a spiral of increases all around. Then they may have to strike again.

    If the Dons are wiser they would stop the strike and start a dialog. They are after all supposed to be the intellectual of the Nation.

    The strike is the brain child of Dewasiri, he may have been bought over by outside anti President Mahinda Rajapakse forces who may pum enough money to FUTA to continue the strike. Dewasiri and the “foolish” Dons who follow him are only the cats paw of some “hidden power” It will be known sooner than expected.

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      Well… maybe changing the regime might be a good thing..

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        Regime changes should be done through elections …. There were many elections in SL held by the government and many in the opposition are against the elections … When opposition is against elections, it itself is enough to gauge the strength of opposition ..
        Replacing the weak opposition to the government by a association called FUTA is the idea hatched by the weak opposition … It was very foolish for FUTA to be a pawn of the oppostion like Sarath Fonseka who contested the presidential election as a sacrificing lamb of UNP/JVP/TNA/Magigie unholy coalition …
        It is a shame when a group of people who are supposed to be the “intellectuals” are mislead like this … Look at the leadership of FUTA … President Ranjith Devasiri of History department and vice president monk Dambre Amila …
        Does FUTA really believe to win what ever with this kind of leadership when the goal set by these two is ‘regime change’?

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          FUTA is not talking about regime change, you are.

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    everybody knows that the education standards in Sri Lanka is going down at all levels. The universities and schools are suffering due to lack of funds to maintain the basic minimum needs as contribution from Govt is reduced every year while the number of students entering are increased with false promises of funds. What is the point in reopening universities and admitting more students without funds to meet basic needs. If the Government is not bothered of what is happening around, other than their own political drama, the empty words of chinthanaya will not take this country down the pallama even faster

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      Only money can not improve education standard of the universities. Universities need teachers with PhD with good research background. Universities are not like school which diliver the classes. Most of FUTA members are not achive this standard.

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    “kalala gilunu Matha waranindu godaganitha
    Thumula Balathi Gingideku misa an kewathe
    Wipula Nanathi Mahathun hata wan Wipatha
    Nisalananin Yuthu Uthumoma Wisandetha”
    Subashithaya

    It is the duty an imperable duty of the government to appoint a person who can take an unbaased decision to resolve the dispute rather than leaving this matter as a gossip item in media.

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    I think under the Sinhalese kings there was no free education or state sponsored education. the “learning” was fully handled by temples or pirivenas. The common man was kept out.

    Colonial powers also established a system of education through missionaries.

    Reforms under Dr C.W.W.Kannangara were of great importance. The middle classes were beniffitted by his reforms.

    From one university in the beginning now we have 15 universities. Now the upper middle class lecturers have their own economic problems. No doubt it is a question of upward social mobility.

    If state universities can charge some fees from the students( a moderate fee) salary issue of lecturers can be solved.

    What do you think?

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      Kamal, for your information leave alone free education, there was no paid employment or unemployment under the Kings. The systems were different. There was only a Pirivena Education for the propergation of Buddhism. That is all. It is thanks to the British that we have been endowed with an Education that have helped to emancipate the masses of this country, who were all vassals earlier.

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      kamal nissanka;

      “What do you think?”

      The state must abolish, expunge, close down……………all universities in the island.

      Rather than spending billions on producing stupid graduates state can save the money and still can have equal number of stupids at par with graduated stupids.

      Why bother?

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    The Government is warned to be on the look out. The Manifestation of University Professors is expecting a shoot out in which a student or a professor is killed or wounded so that there would be outside intervention.

    That is how it happened in Bengazi in Libya .

    There are unknown hands behind Dewasiri’s Manifestation. He is an agent of a dangerous foreign anti Sri Lanka lobby. Perhaps finance by the Tamil diaspora.

    Locally they are supported by the JVP .

    The public is unaware that these professors are financially well off. They get well paid , and get holidays abroad for which a professor and his wife are paid for by the government. Their children study abroad. Some even appear in the TV shows for which they are paid

    The people should pay no sympathy to these professors. They are using a slogan 6% GDP to fool the people. They want more salaries and working for a foreign anti Sri Lanka Group for a change of regime .

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      paranoid fellow.

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        Read ‘dr’ Ranjith Devasiri’ s article ( https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/religious-tolerance-under-scrutiny-in-sri-lanka/ ) to get some of his thinking …
        My comment about the article …
        This light weight academic has broken all the boundaries to redicule/shame ‘Sinhalese-Buddhists’ in the country. His frustration about NOT seeing the flare up of ethnic clashes out of control is everywhere to see in the article.
        Always looking at problems in his narrow eyes —
        ‘expansion of capitalism’,
        Inerpreting the mind of Sinhalese Buddhist by reading one sign board,
        Describing Dambulla incident as a underline major fault line among Muslim Buddhists communities and only subdued to IRAN interference …
        This analyst has abondaned the balance that the reader expect from a true academic. These are the people who are teaching students and also leading the staff unions in Srilankan universities …

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          Irrelevant.

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      The supporters of this regime always blamed the LTTE for every problem
      in the country, and brain wash the uneducated masses for them to forget their hardships for which this family regime is responsible.

      Now you blame some unknown foreign hand to be behind FUTA.

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    As we all know, the current government try to satisfy their family needs rather than thinking about the country. There is a statement ” If you close a school, ten jails will be opened”. Anyway, rather than spending money for car races, son’s rugby games, hiring actors from India for entertainments, it is better to think about poor people in the country. No law acting in the country at the moment. All controlled by politicians. No media for the truth. What will happen to our poor country and people! If these people can close schools, they are more than happy because they can cheat people for years by hugging and talking. Ranil is the top enemy in the country. He keeps his status because of close relationship with Rajapakshe. It’s a shame! Who will appoint their family, relations and friends for top post without any qualification! Some are getting low degree without attending lectures or exams! All know this situation. No way to think anything because of Mr Ranil. I am not sure is this a joke or a film!

    Thanks god! You have given us at least one powerful source to try to save country’s education! If you (FUTA) can’t do so, please leave the country! No need to love this country anymore. They will eat the country!

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    It’s good to see people power in country!! However we need to view this situation in another angle

    If FUTA had done a good job with are youth today we would have had a skilled young work force that could be added from the university system. unfortunately this is not the case, most often graduates from Sri Lanakan universities have to be re trained before they can join the private sector, this is a huge cost to the private sector,

    FUTA should also give a action plan as to how they will spend this money and how they plan to develop a skilled young professionals that can be added to the work force. Cause currently the lectures don’t seem to be doing a very good Job at moulding a young generation who is employable and who can find solutions to the problems of tomorrow.

    Sri Lanka does not have any private universities so every year we see some of the countries best students going overseas, cause they feel studying in Govt universities which is hampered by JVP activities and bullying will not meet their career aspirations. This brain Drain will impact the country badly in the next few years when the older generations starts to retire and their is no one to take companies forward. Also if a student does not gain good marks and does not have the money to go overseas, the student aspiration to gain higher education qualification is taken away! Is this fair, any student should have the ability to study in a university in Sri Lanka even if he or she needs to pay for it, they should still have the option.

    I think the government needs to look at the overall picture of the higher education sector. They need to work in collaborations with the private sector. Overall improve the standards of education and increase the opportunists within the country for more students to be able to gain a higher education and stop the brain drain.

    If we did not have private hospitals in Sri Lankan today the government would not have been able to provide a adequate health system in the country, today cause the middle class and over use private hospitals, the constraints in the government sector has reduced thus they are able to give a better service specially to the poor. Imagine if we all had to use government hospitals!!!!!

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    FUTA’s attempt is not to overthrow the present government as some people wrongly interpret. They are simply trying to point out the mistakes. It’s true that we do not have strong leadership to fill the high chair’s if this government fall. However, it does not mean that we have to keep silent when we see wrong doing all around us. People who are opposing the idea of allocating more money for education are either power hungry (who think they can rule uneducated people more easily than educated ones) or simply idiots. If salary is the only concern FUTA members have this fight might not have lasted long as it is now. Time has come that we all should think beyond our salaries. If the society keep silent while its leaders stepping in the wrong direction the fall is not only for the leaders. A good friend praise you and also point out the mistakes you do and save you from harm. Should you think the friend is an enemy when he/she is pointing out the mistakes it is simply because of ego. Those who praise you even when you know yourself that you are doing wrong… be aware….they are the greatest enemies of all.

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    UTA in the wrong hands

    Date:2012-09-26 15:46:00

    By Camelia Nathaniel

    Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama, charged the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) is in the wrong hands and said she feels ashamed and guilty about university students being deprived of the opportunity to complete their education.

    Addressing a workshop in Colombo today, she said all the university students in the country are made to suffer, due to the actions of some FUTA members.

    “FUTA is in the wrong hands, and it is the actions of handful of these academics that are creating this situation in the universities, and they need to be dealt with by the authorities. The majority of the academics want to come back, especially the final year lecturers, but they are being pressured by a few.”

    The Vice Chancellor also said that parents should take a strong stand, as it is their children’s lives that are being affected due to the actions of these lecturers.

    “Academics should not be involved in politics, and most of the academics have categorically stated that they don’t want to be involved in politics. However, it is just a handful of academics of FUTA, with political agendas of their own, that are responsible for creating this situation,” she said.

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