23 October, 2020

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True Academics Are Honest, Humble And Hard-Working

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

‘Governments are held to higher standards than terrorists’ is a line that was often used by LTTE apologists who routinely brushed aside criticism of the terrorists even as they demanded and conferred parity of status.  The proposition makes sense though.  By the same token, judges should be held to higher standards than ordinary citizens.  Academics should be more academic than non-academics.  Teachers and teachers’ unions should not behave like students and student unions.  From academics, moreover, by dint of professional training, one expects a greater degree of objectivity, close-to-comprehensive analysis, sober reflection and even more sober self-appraisal and so on.

One expects more from academics (than from the government) because at this point FUTA (Federation of University Teachers’ Associations) is playing holier-than-thou.  This does not follow the logic of the LTTE-backers referred to above because government policy on education (and much else besides) is deplorable, a point which we have made frequently.  These thoughts are written down therefore in the firm belief that a FUTA with more integrity would not only be a boost to the larger struggle to obtain more allocations and better policy, but help bring some semblance of a scholar-culture to the university system.

A placard raised at recent FUTA protest a placard carried the legend ‘Prevent brain drain’, implying that if salaries weren’t raised, academics would migrate to greener pastures abroad.  No mention of the millions spent on FUTA members from cradle to academic position by way of midwife care, delivery, healthcare, education and loans at next-to-nothing interest rates.  Nothing on pay-back.   FUTA has joined hands with the JVP, a party that has caused untold damage to university property and wrecked education in ways that make them seem like blood-brothers of those who oppose free education for they make a huge case for privatization by their acts of vandalism and other antics.  The ghosts of Vice Chancellor, Colombo University, Prof. Stanley Wijesundera and Prof. Patuwatawithana, murdered for the ’in of trying to keep the universities open against the will of the JVP, have not haunted FUTA and this says a lot about FUTA’s integrity and politics.  Even as FUTA spokespersons rant and rave about the incompetency of the UGC and Examinations Department it was found recently that A/L papers set by academics have contained errors.  FUTA, in union-mode, is naturally silent about these things.

That’s hardly the story though.  I am wondering why no one in academe have ventured to speak on the gross happening within the fold as laid out in Mage Naduwa Iwarai (My case is over), a no holds barred account of academe authored by Dr. Sarath Wijesuriya, Senior Lecturer, Sinhalese Department of the University of Colombo.  The sloth that pervades academe, the aversion to reading and research, manipulation for perks, misuse of research grants, promotion of favorites, rampant cases of conflict of interest in setting and marking papers for the near and dear and much more is laid out in the book, which was banned by the university until Wijesuriya sued and obtained redress.  It was a work of fiction, officially, but every member of FUTA knows that Wijesuriya’s ‘story’ is true.

There are people who tweak the rules for personal benefit, even wrangling circulars to say that no MSc (except from AIT, Bangkok) can be considered for position of Senior Lecturer.  No guesses for who had the AIT degree!  FUTA has the scholar-ability to tell us that it is no coincidence and not about love-at-first-sight when academics marry recently appointed junior lecturers.  Much time is spent on getting ‘nominated’ for scholarships offered to the particular institution.  That politics is more important than the politics of ‘free education’.   There are faculties which are full of academics who obtained doctorates from Japan simply because JICA dishes out loans.  If JICA generosity was absent, one wonders who many would end up with PhDs!

Academics have been caught leaking exam papers to their blue eyed boys and girls. Some were caught stealing microscopes from the very faculty they work. Some were caught fixing video cameras in girls’ toilets. Hard disks of the university computers have made one way journeys to the homes of academics. Many ‘academics’ were found guilty of using their research grant money to buy furniture and build houses.  Many have produced documents little better than toilet paper in order to secure promotions and professorships.  In one instance a ‘preliminary’ study was submitted to secure professorial points!

The Internal Audit unit of Peradeniya has reports asking some Senior Lecturers to pay as much as Rs. 6 million ‘misappropriated’ during the medical exhibition.  Indeed, some sociologist could peruse the records of the internal audit units of all universities and write a classic about the culture of theft, misappropriation, loss of dignity and intellectual dishonesty that pervades the university system.  Those who study literature might even consider dislodging some fiction and replacing some fact in the syllabus for more informed and insightful perusal by students. FUTA can tell us how many of its members were investigated by these internal audit departments.

FUTA is fighting for moral high ground. Why then is this community so terrified of scrutiny?  Forget scrutiny, shouldn’t FUTA start with sober self-appraisal?  Cannot FUTA tell us how many of its members got their jobs courtesy of political clout, sexual favors and other non-academic ways?  How many have been caught, will FUTA say, submitting false or fraudulent certificates to prove they have higher degrees (Remember 13 day PhD?)? How many go behind politicians for consultancies, advisory posts etc?

FUTA is in competition with itself in this moral-high-ground match.  The university depends on the public.  FUTA is seeking public support.  The honest and decent thing to do is to come clean.  Until then, FUTA will flounder in its battle with the Ministry, the UGC and the Treasury, all institution which, we can safely say, are made up of people who can rub shoulders with the academics as same-clan fellows.

FUTA can and must lead the way for education reform, for among its members are those who have the minds and the hearts.  They are being dragged down by the mediocre, slothful and dishonest.  Pity.

http://malindawords.blogspot.co.uk/

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    To quote this scumbag of a writer,’ By the same token, judges should be held to higher standards than ordinary citizens. Academics should be more academic than non-academics. Teachers and teachers’ unions should not behave like students and student unions’. Why is he not directing the same standards towrds the MR regime who have not only violated all Democratic Norms, but have Raped and Killed innocent citizens? Setting free murderers etc. Further the lackey is interested wanting to know what happened to Rs. 6 million of funds during an Exhibition at the Pera Uni. but keeps silent when the Corrupt MR regime has robbed Public Funds to the tune of Billions of Rupees? This bugger must be having a skin thicker than of a crocodile.

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      @Gamini, This journalist Malinda is a big supporter of the “State Terrorist and War Criminals”
      [ Edited out]
      Rather pathetic, and no time to waste.
      Best is to ignore such silly articles, and then CT also would realize and wonder why publish.
      The country is being robbed left, right and center from the top.
      And some academics are dreaming about Kadirgamar in boastful articles, reconciliation, PSC and the National anthem.

      Part of this comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
      http://colombotelegraph.com/comments-policy/

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      Gamini:
      This “bugger’s” skin is thicker than a crocodiles! His paycheque is, LITERALLY, provided by the Rajapaksa family and that certainly is adequate incentive for him to keep churning out the sleazy hypocrisies at which he has increasing experience.
      Why ANY website, except those run by his masters, would choose to publish his drivel is beyond me! Ah, but this is The Wonder of Asia and we have to prove it every step of the way, I suppose.

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      No doubt writer,Malinada has to continue working for his supper. Else, the british PA firms to be paid millions of tax payers funds allocated for their bread.

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    How much are you getting buddy, to show one side of the story? Apart from that your generalization skills are excellent.

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    //True Academics Are Honest, Humble And Hard-Working///

    True but they are not doing charity! They should be paid adequately for their service. Not only politicians.

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    http://www.sundaytimes.lk/120819/news/public-losing-faith-in-education-system-says-friday-forum-9234.html

    Please read a newspaper of this caliber which gives due credibility of Real Journalism.
    “We are aware of many instances in which eminently qualified academics have refused to apply for the post of Vice-Chancellor because of the political manipulations of the appointment process. There is now open political canvassing for these positions. Relatives, friends and political allies without the relevant competencies and expertise are also constantly being appointed to University Councils. Their main qualification appears to be political allegiance to the regime and/or to the Minister of Higher Education,”

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    What can anybody expect from a man of such caliber ? He is a survivor and would stoop to any level for his survival. The more he supports the dictatorial regime the more he benefits. How can anybody even say he is a journalist? he writes all crap.

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    “From academics, moreover, by dint of professional training, one expects a greater degree of objectivity, close-to-comprehensive analysis, sober reflection and even more sober self-appraisal and so on.”

    Agreed! What about applying these high standards to Editors of News-media, diplomats and other professionals?

    “Why then is this community so terrified of scrutiny? Forget scrutiny, shouldn’t FUTA start with sober self-appraisal? Cannot FUTA tell us how many of its members got their jobs courtesy of political clout, sexual favors and other non-academic ways? ”

    Agreed! Now if you could substitute ‘GOSL’ for ‘FUTA’ in a similar post, it would be most interesting.

    There are other observations here that would apply equally to many other facets of our establishment, but alas, the silence of the apologists, who are vociferous in other areas, is deafening.

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    agree with gamini and donald here. i’m really at a loss for words to describe such writers. you only have to take a look at past nation editorials and see how this guy cleverly attempts to deflect any criticism of the govt onto others and to the public itself. what is worse is that the way this guy also attacks ppl with integrity that have the courage to spk against misdeeds. it’s really disgusting.

    no real surprise cos when the nation was taken over by relatives of MR, he is one of the few that did not resign, and was rewarded with editorship. all he rants abt is imperalism, colonialism, tamil nationalism etc. he is oblivious to the corruption and injustice towards the tamils and lack of any genuine reconcilliation.

    ppl like malinda who aides cronies that are ruining this country to the gutter is the worst s**m alive.

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    We all know that Malinda Seneviratne is doing [Edited out] job for MR….

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    Why does’t FUTA appoint this nice gentleman as its advisor?

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      This is a good idea as MS has ” Jathika Chinthanaya” in his blood, and (late) G Amarasekara and (late) N De Silva should also be appointed…..These people are humans without souls.

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    True journalists are honest, humble and hard-working. They never become the lackeys of corrupted and oppressive regimes!

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    True Acedemics are Honest, Humble and Hard Working while this type of Pseudo Journalist is Dishonest, Arrogant and Bumsucking.

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      No doubt. True academics are honest and hardworking. But journalists of this writer are purchasable, though he could use of his writing for the benfit of the nation – in a juncture, society of lanka has run down to appalling levels of deterioration.

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    ###### True Academics Are Honest, Humble And Hard-Working,Academics should be more academic than non-academics. Teachers and teachers’ unions should not behave like students and student unions. From academics, moreover, by dint of professional training, one expects a greater degree of objectivity, close-to-comprehensive analysis, sober reflection and even more sober self-appraisal and so on.#####.

    True and correct,
    They behave that way as an example to their student and socity,
    We not hear any name calling about them, without them how you get higher education to poor children.
    But Surely, They should not be like AXX LIKER journalists of corrupt rulers and stooges of synthetic lawyers.

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      Senarath Is correct. I knew some who were very dedicated and they were really good teachers and intellectuals.

      I think things changed once the politicians began appointing their henchmen.

      Now, I think the most important thing to be an academic is to be capable of licking politicians or be a relative of one of them..

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    This fellow MS is the most dishonest opportunistic bumsucker of the Rajapassa family and his regime.Most Academics are honest decent folk The Academics who taught me at Peradeniya were some of the finest teachers that Sri Lanka produced. Such as Profs Ludowycke,,Sarathchandra. Malalasekera Hettiarachchi Wijesekera etc.
    The present day Academics were iam sure students who were taught by these people,This guy MS must be suffering from an inferiority complex. His ramblings are so convoluted this fellow does not no “Arthur from Martha” as the saying goes. Please dont take this mans rubbish seriosly he is as dumb as the Rajapassa clan .

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    This MS was a so called journalist ( of course he is not a journalist) directly involved with Rajapaksa’s presidential election. He used to circulate e-mails and many other methods to support MR. It is very obvious that he missed the point as He is unable to control his anger and imperialisms through out the article( this is not an article, it is just a “Kalapaththara”. If any journalist can not realize how to convince things to their readers by developing strong argument without slinging mud, readers are capable enough of understanding the role of that type of Redi Nanda’s and the purpose. This man is not a journalist he is a another “Doby Mama of corrupted politicians. So academics should not worry about this type of comments. what you are doing is a timely requirement of this country

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    The writer, Malinda, has a long way to go to “lie convincingly”. The lies here are too obvious and shallow that only the very gullible will believe what he has written here.

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    What Malinda Says that he has access to lot of insider information and That Academics too are corrupt to the core and they are no different from others which include politicians and the others which include almost every one else.

    If the govt is letting this kind of corrupt academics to run the universities and to teach in the universities and if the govt has politicized every thing when all those individuals are in universities what else we can expect.

    Simply pathetic.

    Simply Malinda Senevirathne is saying I am one of those corrupt individuals who support corrupt group while exposing another another corrupt individual..=

    Anyway, thanks for the article.

    I knew some individuals who became lecturers simply because they were children of MPs or relatives of powefrul ministers or simply they were friends of senior academics working in the university.

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    This MS’ writing shows that he is prostitutionalising journalism. Don’t you have any thing to write on your Master MR regime. What about withdrawing letters expelling former Pradeshiya Sabha Chairmen who were involved in child abuse cases? What about promoting judges who gave favorable decisions to MR regime? What about favoring criminals faithful to MR regime? What about rigging elections? You don’t have anything to write about these things? We do not know whether this guy had tried to be an academic and failed and as a result entertains hatred towards academics.

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    Malinda asks
    “How many go behind politicians for consultancies, advisory posts etc?”
    Please tell us Malinda, how many?
    The government you defend has given a host of mediocre academics consultancies, directorships, chairmanships and etc. By doing so the government has promoted mediocrity among academics. Look at recent appointment of vice chancellors. One of them unsuccessfully ran for the election from Kandy, and the reward was vice-chancellorship. Malinda ignores these because those are buddies of Malinda’s own master!!

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    If only this Lout of a writer, read the comments posted here will understand how well he is received by the readership in this country. I believe CT should forward the comments blog to MS for him to digest, but I wonder whether he has the capacity to comprehend.

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    Malinda
    Do you know why doctors and academics demand higher salaries ?.Every one knows that uneducated politicians which include quite higher ups in the establishment earn large amounts of money by taking bribes These people who demand more money may be thinking that they deserve more than the politicians

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    So, Senevirante, your solution is “Crime prevention through remuneration control?” What a genius you are!! My…my!!!

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    So what the Seneviratne is trying to do is generalize the so cold misbehaved one or two lectures in the whole history to delete and cover all the goodness all the university academics have done to our country… This shows how dumbheaded and narrow minded some of our people are… If not for the university lecturers who would you think will be educating the countries young generation to make thousands of qualified doctors, managers and teachers that have done such high contribution to this country??? It is a real misfortune of our country to not understand the value and the capabilities of these high scholar academics… If you start condemning those scholars like this we will no doubt end up being a dumb nation full of currupt people in addition to the already currupted ones we have… Only when you respect the abilities of these high caliber people will you realize how much the academics do for our country… It is us who should decide whether we treat them right and keep them for our countries development or whether to chase them to other countries and let them educate and benifit other countries…

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    Excellent Article and it shows malpractices and corruption. Anyone who went to Sri Lankan universities knows how some lecturers conducting malpractices. They favors to students who are daughters/sons of their relative and friends, female student who allow to do some sexual things and boys who are going shopping to them. These favouration can control great extend, if UGC recruit staff members with PhD. It will encourage to students to study up to PhD and the get a lecturer post in a university with good research background. It will cut for the students who search for short-cut to get lecture post in the university. All research funds should be administrating by a center of a university. Universities should set up research centers and only research centers are allow taking grant from local and foreign institution. We can give many examples of misbehaviors of senior lectures. Junior lectures also try to protect their senior lecturers. Because, large numbers of junior lecturers got their positions from favourations. Actually speaking, after this stick, lot of general public got to know the inside stories of the Sri Lanka universities and its staff. UGC and MOHE have to do big role and involvements to prevent malpractices and misuse of resources. But, FUTA describes this as political intervention to university administration.

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      No wonder you an admirer of Malinda,Your Prof handle is an insult to any one with any kind of intelligence.Your ramblings and bullshit arguments show how cultured and inteligent you are.Go and get some tuition in how to read and write in proper English before you pontificate. Dont murder the Queens language.

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    It appears the Rajapakse dhobi boy has been brought in to do a hatchet job on the FUTA… No doubt he must be now be wondering if he can get away with calling the FUTA “Tiger Lovers” as well. The term he fondly reserves for everyone he is commissioned to discredit, as everything for Malinda has to be framed in terms of loving or hating Tigers.. He might even sum up with with a passage from the Kalama sutra which he is often fond of quoting to show all what a pure Buddhist he is and even throw in details of a Christian conspiracy behind the FUTA action…

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    The arguments made by Seneviratna in this piece are hardly original and have been made countless times before by others. But if the writer’s objective was to use these vignettes to suggest that FUTA’s actions are unconscionable and lacking reflexivity, I think he has made the case for the opposite; that is, Seneviratne’s piece speaks more than ever to the necessity of allocating more – much MUCH MORE – than the 6 percent of GDP on education in Sri Lanka as demanded by FUTA.

    As an academic in exile who was once a student at a state university in Sri Lanka, I am well-aware of the pitfalls that plague the university system. Seneviratne exhorts students and academics to read and conduct research, but what he does not mention is that there was not a subscription to a single peer reviewed journal in the library to read. As a post-graduate overseas, it came as a shock that current knowledge was so readily and easily accessible, when my university teachers were teaching me theory from the 1960’s sometime in the early 2000’s. Seneviratne speaks to the sycophancy that accompanies academic appointments, yet he says nary a word about the genealogy of this disease, the politicization of universities and the UGC through which even appointments of Vice Chancellors are based on political patronage. A senior academic told me recently that the Senate of the Open University has only one academic as a member, and the others being patronage appointments including an athlete (Darsha?)

    Seneviratne makes no mention of the plethora of excuses trotted out by the current regime to allocate so little to education and so much to defence. Nor does he take umbrage with the comment by the Minister today that the FUTA action is a political act – of course, any trade union action has political consequences. That is the whole point of the exercise within a democratic society, so that the regime could be held accountable for their actions, and be kicked out by an educated populace if they are not seen to be not quite up to par!

    I can go on and on, but I would like to thank Seneviratne for making the case that much more than 6% of GDP needs to be allocated to education; that appointments (including VC’s) need to be based based on merit, on not on their political affiliations, and that there is a lot of rot within the University system that needs to be weeded out, some of it perpetuated by FUTA members themselves. To argue that FUTA ought not to make some very legitimate demands largely because some of them are a bunch of rotten eggs is to reduce a large and complex issue to a narrow, politically expedient account expressed in black (FUTA) and white (the government) terms.

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    People should know the aspect described by Malinga regarding “academic life”

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