15 August, 2020

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University Teachers Dismayed By Vice Chancellors And UGC Statements

By Federation of University Teachers –

Dr. Devaka Weerakoon, Media Spokesman/FUTA

FUTA is dismayed by the statements issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the CVCD (Committee of Vice Chancellors and Directors) on the trade union action of a continuous strike called by the Federation of University Teachers (FUTA) from 4thJuly, 2012. The statements suggest that FUTA has undertaken this trade union action in wilful disregard of the welfare of students and the larger society, without any attempt at negotiation, without the consensus of the academic community, and despite the government’s desire to accommodate the needs of the academics.  Nothing can be farther from the truth. FUTA wants to register its astonishment at this blatant disregard for all veracity on the part of the UGC and the CVCD. We wish to enlighten the public regarding these allegations.

 FUTA’s  trade union action is a campaign to protect State universities.

FUTA demands an increase in Government spending on state universities and education in general. FUTA is concerned that the government, by gradually decreasing spending on education, is slowly destroying education and free education.  The data we present below clearly show a dramatic decline in funding for universities since 2005 (in spite of an over 20% increase in student intake).

Further, actions by the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) seriously contravene the cherished ideals of university autonomy enshrined in the constitution.  The universities have become subject to politicized interference by powerful people in the country and fly in the face of academic autonomy and freedoms.  What has happened to a vast number of other public institutions is taking place now with Universities.  We have repeatedly requested the MOHE to desist from the blatant disregard of procedure and reasonable conduct in university matters.  We are deeply committed to protect higher education in the country, improve education and to save the country at large from forces that attempt to destroy the fragile democracy that we possess today. In spite of the accusations of the UGC and the CVCD we have only the interests of students and society at heart. We are embarking on this strike action for these commitments and not for any narrow personal benefit. The UGC and CVCD know this quite clearly. And yet, they decide to spread these canards about us. Where was the CVCD when the MoHE and the UGC were contravening clauses of the University Act of 1978 and acting against the interests of their own institutions?

The UGC in its statement claims that University academics were granted substantial ‘unusual’ salary increases.  We contest that and assert that for 16 years now there has been no significant increase in basic salary. The UGC erroneously cites a few increases in allowances as salary increases and includes a research grant, which is given only until the end of this year, as a ‘salary’ increase. Further, even with the addition of these allowances to the basic salary, the current salary structure comes nowhere near the recommendations made by the Jiffry-Malik Ranasinghe committee appointed by the UGC in 2008.  Again,

even these recommendations are outdated today if one makes adjustments for inflation.

The strike action was a last resort, when all negotiations failed.

The FUTA action in 2011 galvanized the academic community and drew it out of its slumber of many years, resulting in an unprecedented Academic Spring. It was after 15 years that this community resorted to trade union action and the energy and feeling that was generated, which was later called the Academic Spring, was a result of the frustration that the academics felt  at  what was happening to the Universities. The trade union action of last year was a response to the sheer lack of heedfulness to our demands on the part of the Minister of Higher Education and those who supported him.  Later when we suspended it, we did so, on the basis of promises made by the government regarding the concerns raised by the academics.  However, we have noted, with shock and dismay that the government was abjectly insincere regarding its promises.  The actions promised by the government were not instituted in 2012. After a series of meetings and two formal letters by FUTA to the Ministry, on January 9 and February 19, 2012, FUTA was informed that the agreement on which FUTA suspended the 2011 trade union action was only a ‘perceived’ agreement, implying that it was not real and the government was never serious about the promises it had made.  In fact,  in stark contrast to what we anticipated based on this agreement, the Ministry of Higher Education instituted a series of activities which further impeded the universities’ capacity to perform their mandate to society. The Ministry has withheld funds allocated to universities, and circumvented university procedures to pay for activities. The only explanation we can proffer for such blatant disregard is that the MoHE was fulfilling some personal agendas of persons in the government through these measures.  The government has interfered in the areas of curriculum, the nature of student intake and in staff hires. This form of political interference spells death to higher education and its independence from political manipulation. Education is a vital part of our democratic fabric of society. We are compelled to take action to protect it.

 Strike action is unanimously supported by all the unions in FUTA

The decision to strike was not made by a few but was a collective decision that was endorsed unanimously by the unions that make up the Federation. While FUTA and the academic body respect the rights of individuals to express their opinion, as should all democratic bodies, this decision is supported by the larger community of academics. This will be evident on the 4th of July, when the Continuous Trade Union action is launched.

The Government has actively, overtly and covertly, attempted to disrupt the trade union activities of FUTA and has done little to address the fundamental concerns of the universities.

The Minister of Higher Education and those whose positions depend on his political patronage have done little to address the lack of resources at the universities. Instead, a series of policy changes have come about, which are often legally questionable, have eroded the capacity of universities to function smoothly and which in the long run will create universities with persons in positions acting as the puppets of those in power. The statements by the CVCD and the UGC, which are both constituted by nominees of the government, reflect this puppetry and sycophancy at work. Their positions are a consequence of their past actions and sometimes blatant support of the government at the expense of their responsibilities.  We must put a halt to such obvious exchange of favours. We must protect our institutions from becoming vulnerable to such threats.  To save Sri Lankan universities we demand the following:

  • Increased allocation for education. To achieve 6% of the GDP expenditure on education in times to come. If we can achieve this, we would be able to strengthen the entire educational sector and enhance quality of delivery to very great heights.
  • Preserve the autonomy of universities from undue and personalized political interference. Universities should be allowed to maintain and improve their roles as educationists, academics and collaborators in community building, serving the people.
  • We also demand that the university community be involved in all higher educational reforms

 

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    Education is the key. If education is suppressed, for whatever reason, by whomever, it will eventually spell the death knell for a mature society that understands the mechanics of various social phenomena and respects civic freedoms.

    If the larger cultural environment within which academic development is sought becomes corrupt or unethical, the institutions which are primarily responsible for intellectual development of society will be frustrated.

    Therefore, governments must pay careful consideration to what the credentials of the political heads are (ie ministers in charge). They must possess broad conceptual awareness of the critical importance of a knowledge based society (as in Singapore, for example)and be impeccably sincere in motivation, having the highest regard for the arduous task of social development via education.

    Furthermore, academic heads of educational institutions must not be political appointees or have agendas outside the arena of intellectual development through the search for new knowledges via the experience of existing knowledge.That way, all university teachers will naturally acquire a respect for their superiors to deliver future generations of their only sustainable source of hope.

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      LAsantha:

      This is not a problem of education. This is an issue about the greed. I think, University teachers are among the best paid employees. They get the best perks.

      My concern is how the quality of the teaching they provide. Are they reading the same old lecture note or have they revised their syllabus to suit the country’s present needs ?

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        I agree, Jim, that this is an issue of greed, rather than political appointees to university positions. This public offering from the teacher’s union trying to justify their planned “strike” is another hackneyed attempt to bring education to a standstill by the old-fashioned British Union Movement model of “industrial action”.

        What happens if members of the teachers union go “on strike”? For one thing, the students will be free to use the facilities of the country’s university system to actually LEARN things that they want to know about…the means of doing so is the Internet and whatever books are in the university libraries, and the technique is called “self-directed learning”.

        I expect the educational system in Sri Lanka will be better off if people who don’t want to share their knowledge (such as it is) unless they get more money go on a PERMANENT strike. Of course, they shouldn’t expect to be paid at all if they are not contributing to the education of people in Sri Lanka.

        There is so much to do, and these fools want to go “on strike”! That they say this is in the interests of students is, ironically, true. As for their graphs and legalese text, I think the Teachers Union, or whatever they call themselves, have been spending too much time learning from lawyers and the pommy union movement than from the extraordinary richness of Sri Lanka’s fauna and flora, her beautiful beaches and oceans full of marvellous animals to study.

        The students will be free, if they are left without people who demand intellectual subservience of them, to walk through the forests photographing and identifying trees, leaves, flowers and the rich botany of Sri Lanka. They will be free to photograph the hundreds of species of birds to see how many have become extinct because of the war and develop plans on how to nurture the populations of the many endangered mammals, reptiles and birds in Sri Lanka.

        I’d do this work for free board and meals. And these fools want to strike!

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        Lasantha,As Jimsofty rightly says, it’s greed at its worst! They are among the best paid public servents but the work they do is scarcely based on quality or quantity, in most cases. They work only a few hours a week, that even quite often involves nothing but reading lecture notes from 1960s. There are professors whose main function is A/L tuition.So why would they be given any better perks than A/L teachers who work hard often under trying circumstances? I have just heard the man who was accused of stealing and releasing an A/L paper once is now a professor!! How cruel! He destroyed several young people’s hopes.

        The VCs are appointed by the Head of State, but always from the list proposed by the University senate. Even if the VC is politically appointed, the academics have all the freedom in the world to deliver a quality service if they want. As somebody said, a gifted teacher is as rare as a gifted doctor, and makes far less money. We need to campaign to find ‘gifted teachers’ to our universities.

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        Nice statement! These are legitimate demands that should have been made long ago. Now it is almost too late, but then it is never too late!
        The budget allocation for education should be increased to 25 percent not a mere 6 percent, given the fact that EDUCATION AND HEALTH IS THE FUTURE OF THE NATION. Education provides FOOD of mental and emotional well being – i.e. HUMAN DEVELOPMENT – particularly necessary after a war.
        Human development is not achieved by TOURISM, MILITARIZATION or SPORTS which the Rajapakse Bros and sons are investing PUBLIC FUNDS in for their personal gain.
        The current development paradigm followed by the regime is DE-DEVELOPING Sri Lanka and has wasted the post-war economic dividend.

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          JamesBond, That’s a nice suggestion to increase the education budget to 25%, but the problem with this my-FUTA is they will want 24% as their salaries. Shaken, or stirred?

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          Three points:
          1. Sri Lanka is being turned into a HUB OF IGNORANCE. The Rajapakse regime has been working hard to turn Sri Lanka into a HUB OF IGNORANCE although the rhetoric is about ‘knowledge hub’. There will be no knowledge hub until there is 25 percent increase in investment in education. The plant to turn SL into a HUB OF IGNORANCE is clear from the 1) denial of the RIGHT TO INFORMATION and therefore regime ACCOUNTABILITY; 2) underfunding of education sector while over funding Military, Tourism and sports businesses which the Rajapakse brothers and sons control 3) arrest, killing and intimidation of journalists.
          2. The criminal clown Nivard Cabraal at the Central Bank boasts that Lanka is a middle income country. Show me a middle income country that pays its academics such paltry salaries? Even low income countries pay their teachers better.
          3. There are many highly qualified people in the university and many who are not, but the fact is that a general salary increase for teachers and university dons would attract a higher quality and caliber person who now prefers to work elsewhere.

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        University teachers get the best perks? How do you know this? What is your evidence? Do you believe everything the Minister says? Amazing. Have you been inside a university lecture room? Maybe you should get an insiders view about Quality Assurance and other procedures that university teachers are subjected to, without going on and on about old lecture notes. Get real, dude.

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      Are these commentators paid off by the Rajapakse Brothers who have been looting Sri Lanka and transfering public wealth into the hands of the family dictatorship? As far as I am concerned the University Dons are doing SOCIAL SERVICE teaching students given the paltry salaries that they are paid while the national wealth is looted by Rajapakse brothers and sons, politicians and their cronies. The criminal clow at the Central Bank Nivard Cabraal has been boasting that Lanka is a middle income country and not a low income cournty, then academics should be paid accordingly. The salary of a Senior Lecturer grade 1 is a paltry 42,000 SLR per month less than 350 US$ per month which is an insult to highly qualified PhDs who could earn 500$ a day working as consultants for the UN or other international organizations. In India an associate professor in a good university earns rs. 170,000 minimum per month converted at current exchange rates, and in the US an associate professor earns between 5,000-10,000 dollars per month. In
      The current university teachers are doing social service. Their protest should be supported in every way!

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        Nice points CD, the dons are indeed doing social service teaching for this salary, but why have the Economists at the university not put out the facts and figures and comparisons of what they earn relative to professionals in the private sector and in other countries? Why are they keeping mum and being so silent?
        The Dons seem incapable of comprehensive analysis of the Higher Education sector crisis and the needs for investment broken down in in terms of Human resource needs, student needs, infra-structure, better canteens accommodation for students etc. This should be put out in the public domain.
        The Dons are still only talking about their salaries rather and their children’s education, rather than the crisis in CRITICAL THINKING and knowledge production in Sri Lanka to day, certainly due to politicization. There is a need for comprehensive and indaepth analysis and a road map for development of the university as a public space that sets the STANDARDS for the NATION they need to formulate!
        After all, universities provide new ideas, FOOD for the brain and for emotional well being of societies which SL universities seem incapable of now. Underfunding and brain drain is no doubt one of the core reasons for this.

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        Let’s get real. How much does one of those uneducated and corrupt SL politicians earn, and include all the perks that they get? How much do MR and his family, brothers and sons earn from corrupt deals?
        The University Dons should get a 100 percent salary rise, also to attract highly qualified people into the education system and turn it around. Instead, far too much is spent on a jumbo Cabinet of goons, fools, criminals and geriatrics who cannot speak English and are totally incompetent and on militarizing Lanka to keep that psychopath Gotabaya happy!

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        China Doll, Please don’t insult the education/university setup in the west. Most professors in those countries are persons who profess, as experts in the respective subjects. They are competitive in their fields; they are constantly searching for new ideas and knowledge. Irony is, most of our lecturers will struggle to find a suitable job at a US/European university. There are so many of them who returned home after failing to secure a job elsewhere following their PhDs. There are others who work at fastfood shops/petrol stations in their sabbatical. You can’t just compare salaries; you need to see what people actually do. For example, Singapore PM gets paid 2.15 million dollars per year but the President of Sri Lanka gets paid less than an a tutor in a US university. The salary for the Chief Justice in the US is about $250000 whereas that of our CJ is mere $12000 or so. A Chief Superintendent of a regional police force in the UK gets paid about 150,000 US dollars per year. Let alone an equally qualified graduate provincial DIG, the IGP’s salary is a dwarf compared to that. Furthermore, the minimum wage of an unqualified person in the US is 7.25 dollars per hour, that is almost Rs.1000 in our terms, whereas the most hardworking workforce in the most important trade in Sri Lanka, the garment workers gets paid about Rs.2500 a month. If not for their luck in finding a university job, some of these lecturers would have joined garments as well. It is not fair comparing salaries of different countries with ours to support one segment of the society. Moreover, some of FUTA’s demands are immoral, for example their demand for ‘special rights’ for their kids as I said somewhere else. If FUTA expects the common man, not the anti-government elements living in the West, to back their protest, they have to be reasonable and honest at least in their job.

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          Rupert,
          1. you have not answered the question how much is one of Sri Lanka’s uneducated politicians paid? Since you love them so much and a paid by the regime, please tell us.
          2. The criminal clown Nivard Cabraal at the Central Bank boasts that Lanka is a MIDDLE INCOME COUNTRY. Show me a middle income country that pays its academics such paltry salaries and spends 1.8 on education? Most low income countries pay their teachers better!
          Across the board the EDUCATION SECTOR must be better paid so that people feel they are rewarded and work hard. Likewise uni. facilities for students need to be improved so that they feel like they are treated well, have a sense of respect for self and other well and don’t behave like animals during ragging.

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          Dinuk, You can’t read can you? Are you an academic? It is very disturbing but not surprising. Anyway, the Opposition Leader of Canada is paid $233,000, an MP’s salary is $158,000 per year. Do they compare well with your brain?
          Not to answer your second question but to educate you, (it is not 1.8 but 1.8% of the GDP), the education budget of the UAE is only 1.2% or even less of the annual GDP. Does it not count? But man, academics like you are the problem, frogs in a well. Academic salaries and other perks are far too decent in Sri Lanka when you compare them, not with academics from other developed countries, but with the rest of the population/ other public servants who work hard.
          If you really want to compare, it is not only bloody academic salary you should compare but all the reasonable indices including, the school teachers’ salaries, budget allocation per graduate etc. For example, about half a million students graduate from universities in Pakistan each year, a country that spends 2.7% of the GDP for education. For your information, what it says is, Pakistan produces over 3 graduates against 1 in our country per 1000 people. Their education budget allocation may be high but that is because they produce three graduates when we produce one. But FUTA won’t protest demanding increased university intake. What they want is increased allocation in their pocket. You may be on a different solo-protest to FUTA’s ugly protest. Because they don’t care about the student intake or the facilities or school teacher salaries, they care about themselves and themselves only. Are you a political consultant by the way? Because your last comment is quite similar to what a second rate politician would say. Anyway, what are trying to say there? Do you mean the kids will behave well when you rag them, if the facilities are improved or you expect ragging to stop if a top quality blue-ray is flashed around? Either way, don’t be silly, may be you would have stopped ragging if they flashed a pair of knickers at you than improved facilities, but the political affiliation will not let it stop that easily.

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      It must not be forgotten that the agenda of this regime is to keep the
      educated lot and education under their grip, so that no pressure is
      brought into play on Family Dictatorship in the guise of Democracy.

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    The Dons are finally doing the right thing! Standing up for their rights and the rights of the suffering masses of Lanka. They should have done this a long time ago. Education in Sri Lanka had deteriorated due to UNDERFUNDING of the ENTIRE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM.
    1. Students behave like animals because the facilities they are provided are abominable when one considers the residential quarters they have and the poverty they live in. As many as 15 students may sleep in a small room with 4 bunk beds. They eat half a plate of rice at lunch because they cannon afford a full plat and sell the rest to someone. No wonder this is a fertile ground for JVP activists. The canteens in the universities are appalling. The system as it is DEHUMANIZES and INSULTS students and teachers. The demand for 6 percent to the universitites is legitimate and should be increased to 20 percent at this time given the crisis in the sector.
    But rather Rajapakse is looting national wealth indebting the country 1) with MILITARY BUSINESS for Gota the Goon,
    2) Tourism business for Basil – Mr. 10 percent
    3) Sports Business for Namal and Co.
    This is where the post-war economic dividend has gone rather than investment in education and health. Lanka is being turned into a HUB OF IGNORANCE run by a jumbo cabinet of goons, fools, criminals, geriatrics who are the most uneducated in the history of the Sri Lanka.
    2. There needs to be a com

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    The Rajapakse regime and SB Dissanayake (a clownish Goon who cannot speak two straight sentences in English which is the language of international research and knowledge production and hence is not fit to be minister of higher education), will do its best to break the strike and cripple FUTA. But the loose canon SB who should have been asked by the Dons to resign long ago, also given the mess in the Higher Education Sector should be careful, because this time there will be BLOW BACK. People are fed up of the duplicity and lying of the regime.

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    IT is OK to get 100% or 500% salary hikes. Then everybody asks the same. The next step will be outsourcing jobs as would any other developed country do. Then people will be unemployed. That is what Devasiri do too. He is trying hard to make his children unemployed.

    Is there a Catholic – Church connection to this too ? Catholic Church has talked about Devasiri. OR, simply it is too God’s wish ?

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    A complex situation is oversimplified in these comments. There are indeed professors in Sri Lanka who are highly qualified but have sacrificed to serve or simply to live among friends and relatives. They deserve higher pay and our praise. (Some of these in doing so might have had their once cutting edge in their fields blunted by living in Sri Lanka. They deserve at least our sympathy if not more pay)
    On the other hand, there are more numerous others who are professors merely with local MAs and nothing more. A brush of tar on them may be well deserved, but it is sad to see the same brush applied to all academics in these comments, including the former group who deserve our support.

    PS: As for the comparison of justices’ salaries, again quality must be accounted for in setting salary. Read a judgement from our Supreme Court. Judgements from most justices (but not all) will be superficially argued and have even grammar violations.

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      The problem is, most of those who spearhead this protest campaign like Nirmal Dewasiri and Sumanasiri Liyanage belong to the second group.
      The eminent lot who certainly deserves more are hardly involved.
      Quality or quantity, comparison of any trade between different countries makes no sense. The salary scale of school headteachers in Australia extends to 100,000 Aus dollars. In the UK, they are paid upto 150,000 UK pounds, that amounts to a monthly income of Rs.2.4 million, while a first class gradute principal of our schools earn a meagre Rs.30-40,000 a month.

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    In order to read the old lecture note why they should be paid that much ?

    They get so many perks. How about the all inclusive salary ?

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    I like the phrase “hub of ignorance” to describe the Rajapakse Bros. and Sons. plan to destroy democracy and equality in lanka and turn it into a banana republic run by a military dictatorship. They are doing this to loot the country and transfer public wealth into their hands and they do not want critical thinking people around. The university Dons wshould also start a discussion with the business community which has kept its mouth shut and been spineless about the corruption of the regime and the manipulation of the stock market by regime stooges and the Criminal Cabraal. The University DOns need to be reaching out and EDUCATING the people of the state that Lanka is in with rajapakse in charge. At the same time they should strike until the the salary scales of all public sector professionals and teachers are raised and additionally merit based enhancements should be provided.

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      Dayani,
      LOL, you found room to air a bundle of strong anti-government sentiments, but don’t you understand that there is no correlation between them and the problem at hand? The FUTA is fighting against an imbalanced structure in their view, not against this government. Even if the governmet is changed tomorrow, it is hard to expect these descrepancies to dissappear overnight. They know this but their problem is they themselves, who struggle to divide the society. Your advice to them is even hilarious. No they won’t do the leg work for your political masters because FUTA is not a politial party. Their members have diverse views. Anyway taking your advice on, how could they reach out to the man in the street and say, “we are fighting to change the school admission system, so that it will be discriminating against you and favoured our kids. We want higher salaries for working a few hours but you should still work hard to earn a pittance”?. Reaching out to the business community? That’s hilarious as well. Do you really think they care about all the public servents? No, they care about themselves. In deed, if they care about reducing the gap, and a fair admission system for children of all the people,and a fair salary scheme for everybody, they will have gathered good support.But selfishness is limitless.

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    May the academic spring grow and flourish and reach out to all Sri Lankans, from farmers to professional to overthrow the corrupt and bloody Rajapakse family dictatorship!

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      Saraswathi

      You can overthrow the Rajapakse family dictatorship but there are others awaiting in the wings to replace them.

      Unless and otherwise a major restructuring of the state takes place dictatorship would continue unscathed. In other words empowering the people and democratising state should be our priority.

      In a feudal society such as Sri Lanka democracy can only be a distant dream.

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    Vice Chancellors are appointed by the President with approval by the University Grants Commission. Hence they have to toe the line. They never protested against the “leadership training” which is a useless and costly exercise,during which a few were physically incapacitaed and a few even died. This was avoidable if all chosen for entry had been medically examined before admission.This was the rule in the forties & fifties for entry to the only University of Ceylon,when Ivor Jennings was VC.
    A VC was the first to propose an honorary degree for Mahinda Rajapakse.
    Now the VCs are denying a salary rise for U Teachers.
    We should increase their pay and screen them too, to weed out those inadequately qualified & those who were appointed outside the norms for appointment.Our universities need the best.
    VCs also keep mum about ‘ragging’ which has become sadistic – there are/were videos.Why?

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    The VCs are not a group of people representing academics. They are the agents of politicians. They do what politicians want to do in the university but not what the people, whose tax pay their salaries. VCs are expecting their next positions by pleasing the very politicians who appointed them.

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    http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=55767

    Address academics’ concerns about future of education, universities
    July 1, 2012, 7:54 pm

    We as a group of Emeritus Professors and former members of the academic staff of Sri Lankan State universities wish to record our grave concern at the deteriorating situation in our national universities and reports of threats of violence against members of the academic community. We are shocked by the alleged death threats received by the current president of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA), Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, Head of the Department of History of the University of Colombo. These threats have come after FUTA’s announcement of trade union action to be launched in the next few weeks.

    The right of academics of Sri Lankan universities to engage in trade union action on issues of wider concern in the university system has a long tradition. University trade unions have played a significant role in improving the conditions of university staff and also impacting on higher education policy. The fact that some of us engaged in trade union action has never meant that our expertise and professional contribution was not respected and valued by respective governments. We were also never subject to threats and intimidation due to trade union action.

    We have noted that the recent FUTA demands have not been limited to the personal concerns of academics, but have also been expanded to bring attention to the current crisis in the public universities due mostly to lack of funding and what seems to be entrenched political interference. There is a total disregard for the core concepts of university autonomy and academic freedom recognized in the Universities Act. We have watched the deterioration of national universities with grave concern and have sometimes raised these issues in public fora. Our concerns on previous occasions have related to current trends in militarisation, violence, intimidation and lawlessness. This violence is now being directed at university academics in order to prevent them from exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of thought and expression and freedom of association and peaceful assembly.

    We welcome efforts of the current academic community to fulfill their responsibilities and to engage in discussions on broader national issues that are also relevant to university education in Sri Lanka. We call upon His Excellency the President to ensure the personal safety of Dr. Dewasiri and his family and of all university academics including those engaged in trade union action so that they are not subject to acts of violence and intimidation. We also call upon the Minister of Higher Education and officials of the Ministry to respond meaningfully and in good faith to address the very relevant concerns that academics have expressed regarding the future of public education and universities in Sri Lanka.

    1. Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare (Medical, Peradeniya, former VC Peradeniya, former Chairman University Grants Commission)

    2. Prof. Y.R. Amarasinghe, (Political Science, Peradeniya)

    3. Prof. Herbert A. Aponso, (Medical, Peradeniya)

    4. Prof. Kumar David (Engineering, Peradeniya)

    5. I V Edirisinghe (Sociology, Colombo)

    6. Prof. Asoka Ekanayake (Dental, Peradeniya)

    7. Prof. J N O Fernando (Chemistry, OUSL)

    8. Dr. Laksiri Fernando (Political Science, Colombo)

    9. Dr. Siromi Fernando (English, Colombo)

    10. Dr. Sucharitha Gamlath (Sinhala, Jaffna and Ruhuna)

    11. R K W Goonesekere (Law, University of Ceylon, former Chancellor Peradeniya)

    12. Prof Savitri Goonesekere (Law, OUSL and Colombo, former VC Colombo)

    13. Prof. Savitri Gunatilleke, (Botany, Peradeniya)

    14. Prof. Chandra Gunewardene (Education, OUSL)

    15. Prof. J A Gunawardena (Engineering, Peradeniya)

    16. Prof. Ratna Handurukande (Classical Languages, Peradeniya)

    17. Prof. Buddhadasa Hewavitharane (Economics, Peradeniya)

    18. Prof. Laksiri Jayasuriya (Sociology, Colombo)

    19. Dr. Sirima Kiribamune (History, Peradeniya),

    20. Prof. Savitri Kumar (Chemistry, Peradeniya)

    21. Prof. Vijaya Kumar (Chemistry, Peradeniya)

    22. Prof. Lalitha Mendis (Microbiology, Colombo)

    23. Dr. Sinnaiah Maunaguru (Fine Arts, Eastern)

    24. Prof. Desmond Mallikarachchi (Philosophy, Peradeniya)

    25. Prof P.B. Meegaskumbura (Sinhala, Peradeniya)

    26. Prof Mohamed Nuhman (Tamil, Peradeniya)

    27. Prof. Gananath Obeysekere (Anthropology, Princeton University and formerly University of Ceylon)

    28. Prof. Ranjini Obeysekere (Anthropology, Princeton University and formerly University of Ceylon)

    29. Dr. Arjuna Parakrama (English, Colombo and Peradeniya)

    30. Dr Dharmasena Pathiraja (Media Studies, Colombo)

    31. Prof. Merlin Peiris (Classical Languages, Peradeniya)

    32. Prof. Ryhana Raheem (English, OUSL)

    33. Prof. M P Ranaweera (CIvil Engineering, Peradeniya)

    34. Dr. N. D. Samarawickrama (Economics, Peradeniya)

    35. Prof D C H Senarath (Civil Engineering, Moratuwa),

    36. Prof. H L Seneviratne (Anthropology, University of Virginia, and formerly University of Ceylon)

    37. Prof. H Sriyananda (Engineering, OUSL)

    38. Prof D.P M Weerakkody (Classical Languages, Peradeniya)

    39. Prof. P. D Premasiri, (Pali and Buddhist Stu dies, Peradeniya)

    40. Dr. P.V.J. Jayasekera (History, Peradeniya)

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