Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FUTA to continue TU action

Daily Mirror, 31/05/2011

Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA) today said that a decision has been made to continue their current trade union action in whatever form possible and said that it will be taken in all the universities except for J’pura, Ruhuna and Wayamba.

An interim order was given by the Court of Appeal yesterday to the Vice Chancellors of Jayewardenepura, Ruhuna and Wayamba universities preventing them from accepting the resignation letters of Department Heads, which were rendered as part of the FUTA trade union action. However, FUTA President Dr. Dewasiri told Daily Mirror Online that the academics in those universities have not been contacted by the VCs so far on resuming their duties as Department Heads. (Lakna Paranamanna)

Legal note on the Court Ruling

It has been reported in the electronic media that the Court of Appeal on an application by some petitioners has ordered former Heads of Dept. in Wayamba, Ruhuna and SJP universities to resume work as Heads.

Please note the following:

1. When there is a court order, to refuse to follow it can amount to
contempt of court. Therefore former heads of those universities should be
informed that they have to follow the court order.

2. When an order is made in the Court of Appeal an appeal can be filed to
the Supreme Court. The FUTA lawyers area aware of the situation and will do
the needful.

3. FUTA should be aware of the judgement in 1999 of Deepika Udugama and
Others v. the Attorney General (Supreme Court Determination on the
Universities Amendment Bill by Justices RNM Dheeraratne, AS Wijetunge and
Shirani Bandaranayake No. SC/SD /5/99, 6/99 etc of 11 May 1999

This was a case challenging proposed amendments to the Universities Act. One
clause in the proposed amendment tried to bring in the condition that Deans
and Heads of Departments could not cease to funcion as a Dean or Head until a new Dean or Head is appointed. The Supreme Court held that this clause was invalid and violated fundamental rights. The Court said (quotation below):

"Proposed new subsection 49 (1) (b) provides that where a Dean resigns his office by writing under his hand addressed to the Vice Chancellor he shall continue to function until a new Dean is elected by the Faculty Board. Likewise proposed new subsection 51(2) (1) provides where a Head of a Department tenders his written resignation he shall continue to function until such time a new head or a person to act in that post is appointed. It was submitted that compelling a person who has resigned to continue to function is violative of Article 14 (1) g (Constitution) as the freedom to engage oneself in an occupation also contemplates the freedom to disengage himself. We also find that the provision is arbitrary and unreasonable. These clauses are inconsistent with Article 12 (1) and 14 (1) g of the Constitution."

THerefore this amendment could not be enacted and is not in the law.

Please note:

Article (14 (1) (g) of the Constitution says "Every citizen is entitled to-
the freedom to engage by himself or in association with others in any lawful
occupation, profession, trade, business or enterprise;"

Article 12 (1) of the Constitution says "All persons are equal before the law
and are entitled to the equal protection of the law."

Camena Guneratne
Senior Lecturer / Dept. of Legal Studies
Open University of Sri Lanka
Nawala, Nugegoda, SRI LANKA

CA issues Interim Order restraing Varsity Heads

Daily Mirror, 31/05/2011, By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Court of Appeal yesterday (30) issued an Interim Order restraining the Heads of Department of three universities from ceasing to function until the final determination on the Writ Applications filed by students.The Bench comprising Justices Sathya Hettige (President) and Upali Abeyrathne issued another Interim Order restraining Vice Chancellors and Council Members of the respective universities from accepting their letters of resignation and fixed the matter to be taken up on June 30.

Several Undergraduates filed Writ Applications restraining the Heads of Departments of Universities from resigning from their posts. They were seeking Court to issue a Writ of prohibition restraining the Vice Chancellors of the Wayamba, Ruhuna and Sri Jayawardenapura Universities, members of the Senate of respective Universities, the University Grants Commission, Deans of Faculties and Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake from accepting the letters of resignation of the Heads of Department of the respective Universities.

In this case Undergraduates Asanka Bulegoda of the Wayamba University, Rasika Deshapriya Rathnayake of the Sri Jayawardenepura University and A.H. Amarasinghe of the Ruhunu University filed separate petitions against the resignation of Heads of Departments. Faisz Musthapha with J.C. Weliamuna, Sanjeewa Jayawardane, Faizer Musthapha and Faiza Musthapha instructed by Gowry Shangary Thavarasa appeared for the Petitioners.

Petitioners are asking the Court to issue a Writ of Prohibition until the conclusion of lectures and examinations of the current academic year. 16 Heads of Departments of the Wayamba University, 26 Heads of Department of the Sri Jayawardenepura University and 41 Heads of Department of the Ruhuna University had tendered their resignations from the posts of Head of Department in the respective universities. They had sited as the reason for their resignations, the issue of impugned inadequate salary increases.

The Petitioners state that the salaries of all academic staff, including the Heads of Departments, were increased by 36.25% (as salaries and allowances) under the Government National Budget Proposals.

They alleged that the acceptance of the letters of resignation of the Heads of Department would be illegal, null and void and of no force or avail in law. They state that the Examination Board would not be able to convene without the Heads of Department and that the Senate cannot convene meetings without them. They lament that the academic and other related functions and functioning of the Universities and the degree programmes were affected due to these purported resignations and non-academic staff are also unable to carry out their routine functions, particularly the administrative functions. They had abruptly kept away from work and have thus not been performing their duties as Heads of Departments.

University Act gives Edu. Minister power to decide – Snr. State Counsel

The Island, 30/05/2011, By Chitra Weerarathne

Senior State Counsel Nerin Pulle, yesterday told the Supreme Court that, the University Act, in Section 19, empowers the Minister of Higher Education to give directions in respect of the University Education.

He was appearing for the Attorney General, who was made a respondent, in a petition filed by a student, who had objected to the mandatory requirement stated recently by the Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education, directing the new entrants to the universities, to subject themselves to a training course titled ‘positive thinking and leadership qualities, being held in military camps. SSC Pulle said that the programme intends to safeguard the students against ‘ragging’ and other kinds of uncalled for hardships.

Section 20 of the Universities Act, gives the Minister the power to safeguard the interests of the students, he said. More that 9,000 students had consented to take part in the training he said.

M. A. Sumanthiran, who supported a petition, said that the training programme should not be made an additional requirement for selection to the universities. He said the compulsion is a violation of the freedom to think, and it is de grading. The Court on June 2, 2011 will continue to hear a few other petitions on the same issue.

The bench comprised the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, Justice N. G. Amaratunga and Justice K. Sripavan.

The petition filed by students’ for Human Rights, against their programme was withdrawn by the petitioner yesterday. Several parties had filed interventions to the petition supporting the programme organized by the government.

Court of Appeal orders University VCs - Refrain from accepting resignation letters

The Island, 30/05/2011, By Chitra Weerarathne

The Court of Appeal yesterday directed the Vice Chancellors and the respective Senates of the Sri Jayewardenepura, Ruhunu and Wayamba Universities to refrain from accepting the letters of resignation submitted by the Heads of Departments of those Universities.

The Heads of Departments were directed to refrain from ceasing to function in their official capacities.

The orders are valid till the final determination of the petition filed by students, complaining that their studies were being interrupted due to the phenomenon. The petitions were supported by Faiz Mutapha PC, J. C. Weliamuna and Sanjeewa Jayewardene.

The Bench comprised Justice Sathya Hettige (President) and Justice Upali Abeyratne.

Notice was issued on the respective Chancellors, returnable on June 30, 2011.

සරසවි තුනක අංශ ප්‍රධානීන්ගේ ඉල්ලා අස්‌වීමේ ලිපි භාරගැනීමෙන් වළකින්න

Divaina, 31/05/2011,සරත් ධර්මසේන

අභියාචනාධිකරණය උපකුලපතිවරුන්ට නියෝග කරයි

ශ්‍රී ජයවර්ධනපුර, රුහුණ සහ වයඹ විශ්වවිද්‍යාලවල අංශ ප්‍රධානීන් ඉදිරිපත් කර ඇති ඉල්ලා අස්‌වීමේ ලිපි භාරගැනීමෙන් වළකින ලෙස අභියාචනාධිකරණය ඊයේ (30 වැනිදා) එම විශ්වවිද්‍යාල තුනේ උපකුලපතිවරුන්ට හා සනාතන සභාවල සාමාජිකයන්ට නියෝග කළේය. විශ්වවිද්‍යාල තුනේ අංශ ප්‍රධානීන්ට පැවැරී ඇති කාර්යන්වලින් ඉවත්ව සිටීමෙන් ඔවුන් වළක්‌වන නියෝගයක්‌ද අභියාචනාධිකරණය විසින් ඒ සමග නිකුත් කරන ලදී.

අභියාචනාධිකරණයේ සභාපති සත්‍ය හෙට්‌ටිගේ සහ විනිසුරු උපාලි අබේරත්න යන මහත්වරු එම අතුරු නියෝග නිකුත් කළේ විශ්වවිද්‍යාල තුනේ අවසාන වසරේ ඉගෙනීම ලබන සිසුන් තිදෙනකු විසින් වෙන වෙනම ගොනුකර තිබූ පෙත්සම් හා ඔවුන් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටි නීතිඥවරු ඊයේ විවෘත අධිකරණය හමුවේ දැක්‌වූ කරුණු සලකා බැලීමෙන් අනතුරුවය.

විශ්වවිද්‍යාල තුනේ කුලපතිවරු, උපකුලපතිවරු, සනාතන සභාවල සාමාජිකයන්, විශ්වවිද්‍යාල ප්‍රතිපාදන කොමිෂන් සභාව, උසස්‌ අධ්‍යාපන ඇමැති එස්‌. බී. දිසානායක, එම අමාත්‍යංශයේ ලේකම් ඇතුළු වගඋත්තරකරුවන් උසාවි කැඳවා පෙත්සම් පිළිබඳ සම්පූර්ණ විභාගයක්‌ පැවැත්වීමටද විනිසුරු මඩුල්ල තීරණය කළ අතර එකී නියෝග පෙත්සම් විභාග පවත්වා අවසන් තීන්දුවක්‌ ප්‍රකාශයට පත්කරන තුරු බලපැවැත්වෙනු ඇත.

අප්පුහාමිලාගේ හරිස්‌චJද්‍ර අමරසිංහ, ආර්. එම්. දේශප්‍රිය රත්නායක සහ බී. අසංක බුලේගොඩ මෙහි පෙත්සම්කරුවෝ වෙති.

පෙත්සම්කරුවෝ සිය පෙත්සම්වලින් කියා සිටියේ විශ්වවිද්‍යාල තුනේ අංශ ප්‍රධානීන් තනතුරුවලින් ඉල්ලා අස්‌වීමේ ලිපි භාරදී ඇති නමුත් විශ්වවිද්‍යාල බලධාරීන් ඒවා නිල වශයෙන් තවම භාරගෙන නැතැයි තමන්ට දැනගන්නට ලැබී ඇති බවයි.

අංශ ප්‍රධානීන්ගෙන් විද්‍යාල අධ්‍යාපන හා පරිපාලන කටයුතුවලට අදාළව වැදගත් හා විශාල සේවාවක්‌ ඉටුවන බවත් විභාග පැවැත්වීම, ප්‍රතිඵල නිකුත් කිරීම ආදී අත්‍යවශ්‍ය කාර්යන් වලට ඔවුන්ගේ සහභාගිත්වය අතිශයින් වැදගත් වන බවත් ඔවුන් දිගටම තනතුරුවල වැඩ වරා සිටිය හොත් විශ්වවිද්‍යාලවල අධ්‍යාපන කටයුතු මුළුමනින්ම ඇනහිටින අතර විශ්වවිද්‍යාල තුළ අවුල්සහගත තත්ත්වයක්‌ ඇති වන බවත් උසස්‌ අධ්‍යාපනය ලබන තමා ඇතුළු සිසුන් දහස්‌ සංඛ්‍යාත පිරිසකගේ අපේක්‍ෂා භංග වෙන බවත් පෙත්සම්කරුවෝ සිය පෙත්සම්වල සඳහන් කර සිටිති.

විශ්වවිද්‍යාල පනතේ 52 වැනි වගන්තියට අනුව පත් කරනු ලබන අංශ ප්‍රධානීන් වසර 3 ක්‌ එම තනතුරුවල රැඳී සිට පැවරී ඇති කාර්යයන් නිසියාකාරව ඉටුකළ යුතු බවත් එසේ නොකිරීම නීති විරෝධී සදාචාර විරෝධී බවත් විශ්වවිද්‍යාලවල අධ්‍යාපන කටයුතු නිසියාකාරව පවත්වාගෙන යැමේ කටයුත්ත නීතියෙන් පැවරී ඇති කුලපති, උපකුලපති ඇතුළු බලධාරීන්ට අංශ ප්‍රධානීන්ගේ අස්‌වීමේ ලිපි භාරගැනීමට නීතියෙන් අයිතියක්‌ නැති බවත් පෙත්සම්කරුවෝ වැඩිදුරටත් කියා සිටිති.

නීතිඥ ගවුරි සංගරී තවරාසා මහත්මියගේ උපදෙස්‌ පිට ජනාධිපති නීතිඥ පායිස්‌ මුස්‌තාපා, අධිනීතිඥ සංජය ජයවර්ධන, ඡේ. සී. වැලිඅමුණ පයිසර් මුස්‌තාපා, ඉසුරු බාලපටබැඳි, අසිත් දසනායක යන මහත්වරු පෙත්සම්කරුවන් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටියහ. පෙත්සම් විභාගය ලබන ජුනි 30 දා පැවැත්වේ.

Monday, May 30, 2011

උගතුන්ගේ සංස්‌කෘතියට එරෙහි තර්ජනය

Divaina, 30/05/2011, සාලිය කුලරත්න

විශ්වවිද්‍යාල සමාජයෙහි වූ බුද්ධි සංස්‌කෘතිය, කිසිවකුගේ බලයකට වැරදි අර්ථ දීමකට හෝ තර්ජනයකට යටපත් විය යුත්තක්‌ නොවේ. අවශ්‍යතන්හි වැදගත් සම්පත් දායකත්වයක්‌ සේ එහි ශක්‌තිය අවංකව යොදා ගැනීම රජයකද වගකීම වේ. විශ්වවිද්‍යාල සංස්‌කෘතියක ඇති ස්‌වාධීන බව සටහන් කරන ලද්දේ විදේශික උගතකු විසිනි. ඒත් අපේ රටේ ඇතැම් බලවේග, එහි වූ ස්‌වාධීන බව අකාමකා දැමීමට කටයුතු කළහොත් සිදුවන්නේ, මාකට්‌ සංස්‌කෘතියක්‌ බිහිවීමය. රටක තාක්‍ෂණය හා මානව ශාස්‌ත්‍ර හා සෞන්දර්යය සමබර විය යුතුය. මානව ශාස්‌ත්‍ර භාෂා, දර්ශන වලින් එක්‌වරම වෙළෙඳපළ වටිනාකම් සෙවිය යුතු නැත. එබඳු විෂයයන්ගෙන් ඉතා සුගැඹුරු හා බහුශ්‍රැත ඥන සම්පත් බිහිකිරීම සිදුවේ. එහි ඵලප්‍රයෝජනය දීර්ඝ කාලීන වේ, අදූර දර්ශී ඇතැමුන් විසින් රටක උගතුන් හා බද්ධ සංස්‌කෘතිය හෑල්ලු කරන විට, ඊට පහළින් සිටින සියලු අසංස්‌කෘත බලවේග උඩපනිමින් ඊට පහරදෙනු ඇත.

කාල්මාක්‌ස්‌ විසින් 1835 සැප්තැම්බර් 24 දින ටි්‍රයෙර් උසස්‌ ශාස්‌ත්‍රාලයෙහි උගනිමින් සිටියදී ලියූ "Reflections of a Youth on Choosing an Occupation", නමැති රචනාවක්‌ වෙයි. එය, මහාචාර්ය ඩෙස්‌මන් මල්ලිකාරච්චි විසින් සිංහල බසට පරිවර්තනය කරනු ලැබ 2003 දී නිකුත් වූ "මාක්‌ස්‌වාදී රචනා" නම් පොතේ ඇතුළත් වෙයි. එහි එක්‌ තැනක මෙසේ කියෑවේ.

"උගතෙකුට ගෞරවනීයත්වය ලබාදිය හැක්‌කේ කිසියම් බලයක දීන අතකොළු නොවී, ඔවුනට තම විදග්ධ වපසරිය තුළ ස්‌වාධීනව ක්‍රියාකළ හැකි වෘත්තියකටය. ගෞරවනීයත්වයෙන් තොර වෘත්තියක්‌ විසින් අපව අපේ උගත්කම්වලට නොසරිලන සේ පහතට ඇද දමනු ලබනු ඇත."

මාක්‌ස්‌ මෙම ලියවිල්ල ලියා මේවනවිට වසර 176 ක්‌ පමණ, එනම් ශතවර්ෂ එකහමාරකට වඩා ගතවී තිබේ. එහෙත් මාක්‌ස්‌ එයින් ඉඟිකළ අවදානම මේ වනතුරුද පහවී නැත. මේ ලිපිය ලියන මම, තවමත් වියපත් නැති, මැදි තරුණ වියක පසුවන්නෙක්‌මි. කිසිදු ලෙසකින් ශිල්ප අලෙවියේ නොයෙදෙන්නෙක්‌මි. කිසිදු අයුරකින් මගේ වෘත්තියට අතිරේකව රජයේ හෝ රාජ්‍ය නොවන ආයතනයකින් වේතනයක්‌ නොලබන්නෙක්‌මි. රටේ ඒ ඒ සමයේ සිදුවන ජනතා හිතෛෂී වෙනස්‌කම් හමුවේ රජය හෝ වේවා අන්කිසි සමාජ බලවේගයක්‌ වේවා සිදුකරන යහපත් කර්තව්‍ය අගය කරමින් ලිපි ලියා ඇත්තෙමි. නිදසුනක්‌ ලෙස දක්‌වතොත් ජනාධිපතිතුමාගේ දෙවැනි පදවිප්‍රාප්තිය සම්බන්ධයෙන් මවිසින්, එසේ වඩා සාධනීය ලිපි පළ කරනු ලැබිණි. ඒ හැර මම, කිසිදු දේශපාලන පක්‍ෂයක ක්‍රියාකාරී සාමාජිකයෙක්‌ නොවෙමි. මේ කියන්නා වූ මධ්‍යස්‌ථභාවයේ සිටිමින් මා සහ මා වැනි තවෙකෙකු අදහස්‌ දක්‌වන්නේ නම් එය කාගේ හෝ මෙහෙයවීමකින් සිදුවන කටයුතතක්‌ සේ නොසැලකීමට තරම් මෙය කියවන්නාද මධ්‍යස්‌ථ විය යුතු වේ.

විශ්වවිද්‍යාල ආචාර්වරයෙකුගේ භූමිකාව අන් කවර වෘත්තිකයෙකුගේ වෘත්තීය තත්ත්වයකට වඩා වෙනස්‌ වේ. ඔහුගේ රාජකාරිය උදේ අට හෝ හවස හතර අතරතුර පමණක්‌ සීමා නොවන්නකි, අවසන් වසර ශිෂ්‍යයන් සිය පර්යේෂණ නිබන්ධන ලියන විටකදී ඔවුහු මිටි ගණන් පරිච්ඡේද ගෙනැවිත් ආචාර්යවරුනට භාරදෙති. එක්‌ ඇදුරෙකුට එවන් ශිෂ්‍යයන් හතක්‌ අටක්‌ පමණ අධීක්‍ෂණය පැවරෙයි. එවිට උදේ සිට හවස්‌වනතුරු දේශන පවත්වා හවස පටන්ගෙන රෑ වනතුරු අර නිබන්ධන වල හරි වැරදි බැලිය යුතුය. ඊට අමතරව හැම සමාසිකයකට වරක්‌ දෙන පැවරුම් 20 - 30 ක්‌ පමණ එක්‌ ඇදුරෙකුට පැවරෙයි. ඊටත් අතිරේකව ඔහු පසු දිනට ඇති දේශන සඳහා සූදානම් විය යුතුය.

ඇතැම් දේශපාලකයන්, මාධ්‍ය අබියසදී ඔවුනට කැමැති ඕනෑම දෙයක්‌ කීමට නිදහස භුක්‌ති වින්දත්, සරසවි ඇදුරන් වන අපට කැමැති ඕනෑම දෙයක්‌ ශිෂ්‍යයන් ඉදිරියේ කිව නොහැක. අපි නිතරම, නව දැනුම සමග සිසුන් හා ගැවසෙමු. එය එසේ වන ලෙස සියලු පද්ධතීන් සකස්‌ වී ඇත. යම් විෂයක්‌ පිළිබඳ ප්‍රාමාණික දැනුමක්‌ අදාළ ආචාර්යවරයා තුළ තහවුරුව පවතින බවට, ඔහු ආයතනයේ පසුකරන කඩඉම් විසින් සනාථ කෙරෙනු ඇත. සහාය කථිකාචාර්යවරයෙකු තෝරා ගැනෙන්නේ අදාළ විෂයට පළමු පංති සාමාර්ථයක්‌ ගත් අයෙකු පමණි. එවැන්නෙකුට ස්‌ථිර කථිකාචාර්යවරයෙකු විය හැක්‌කේ විශාල වශයෙන් ශාස්‌ත්‍රීය ලිපි ලේඛන ලියා ශාස්‌ත්‍රීය භූමිකාවක්‌ නිර්මාණය කරගතහොත් පමණි. ඔහුට ජ්‍යෙෂ්ඨ කථිකාචාර්යවරයකු වන්නට නම් වසර හය හතක්‌ තුළ පශ්චාත් උපාධි පර්යේෂණයක්‌ කළ යුතුමය. ජ්‍යෙෂ්ඨ කථිකාචාර්ය පළමු වැනි ශ්‍රේණිය සඳහා පශ්චාත් උපාධිය ඇතුළු ශාස්‌ත්‍රීය පර්යේෂණ සලකා බැලේ. මහාචාර්යවරයෙකු වීමට ආචාර්ය උපාධිය ((PhD)) සමග විශාල ශාස්‌ත්‍රීය පර්යේෂණ හා පතපොත ලිවීම අවශ්‍යය.

තත්ත්වය මෙසේ නමුදු, ස්‌ථිර කථිකාචාර්යවරයෙකු ලබාගන්නා ආරම්භක වැටුප රු. 26000 කි. පංති සාමාර්ථයක්‌ කිසිත් නැතිව මූලික උපාධිය පමණක්‌ සහිත උපාධිධාරියෙකුට කෙටි පුහුණුවක්‌ සහිතව මධ්‍යම බැංකුවේ ලැබෙන ආරම්භක වැටුප 37,000 කි. මා දන්නා තවත් නිදසුනක්‌ කියමි. එක්‌තරා පෞද්ගලික ව්‍යාපාරයක සේවය කරන උසස්‌ පෙළ පමණක්‌ ඇති, වෙළෙඳ නියෝජිතයෙකුට ඉන්ධන ගාස්‌තුද සහිතව රු, 40,000 ක වැටුපක්‌ ලැබේ. ජ්‍යෙෂ්ඨ මහාචාර්යවරයෙකුට ලැබෙන්නේ 65000 - 70000 ත් අතර වැටුපකි. මෙය අප දන්නා සත්‍යම කාරණය වේ. සරසවි ඇදුරන්ගේ වැටුප් වැඩි කළ යුතු බව සඳහන් කරමින් පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ පවා නොයෙක්‌ ආන්දොaලන සිදු වුවද එවැන්නක්‌ සඳහා මේ වනතුරු කිසිදු පියවරක්‌ ගෙන නැති බව කාරුණිකව සඳහන් කළ යුතුය. සරසවි ඇදුරන්ට වැඩ වර්ජනයක්‌ කිරීම ප්‍රායෝගික කාර්යයක්‌ නොවේ. සිසුන්ගේ පර්යේෂණ නිබන්ධන අධීක්‍ෂණය කිරීමේ පටන් ඉගැන්වීම දක්‌වා කාර්යයේ මේ වනතුරුද අපි යෙදී සිටිමු. එහෙත් කිසිදු ස්‌වෙච්ඡා තනතුරක්‌ දරන ආචාර්යවරයෙකුට ඒ සඳහා අතිරේක ගෙවීම් සරසවි පද්ධතිය තුළ නැත. සාධාරණ වෘත්තීය කාරණයක්‌ පිළිබඳ මතක්‌ කරමින්, ඒ පිළිබඳ නිතර නිතර සිදුවූ අපේක්‍ෂා භංගත්වය තුළම සියලු ආචාර්යවරු සිය රාජකාරිමය භූමිකා තුළම විනා ඉන් පරිබාහිර උද්ඝෝෂණයක නියෑළී නොසිටිති. ස්‌වෙච්ඡාවෙන් සිදුකරන ඇතැම් සම්බන්ධීකරණ කටයුතු පිළිබඳ කිසිවකුට බල කළ නොහැක. ඒ කටයුතු අඩාල වුවද නැතද අපට නම්, රාජකාරියට අදාළ කටයුතුවල නිමක්‌ නැත. එසේ තිබියදීත් මේ මස වැටුපටද අපි හිමිකම් නොලබමු. රටේ ඉහළම බුද්ධි ස්‌ථරය වූ අපි, රටේ තීරණාත්මක තත්ත්ව වලදී දායක වූ සම්පත් දායකයන් වූ අපි, අද ඒ සියල්ලට පොහොනා පරිදි ඉහළම සැලකුම් ලබමු·

මාක්‌ස්‌ ගේ "Reflections of a Youth on Choosing an Occupation", නම් ලේඛනයෙන් උපුටා අවධාරණය කළ පරිදි ගෞරවනීයත්වයෙන් තොර වෘත්තියක්‌ විසින් අපව අපේ උගත්කම්වලට නොසරිලන සේ පහතට ඇද දමනු ලැබ තිබේ. මෙවන් වැටුපක්‌ ලබමින් සියලු ඇදුරනට සිය විදුලි බිල්, වතුර බිල් ගෙවීමටද, දරුවන් පාසලට දැමීමටද, කුමක්‌ හෝ වාහනයක්‌ ගමන් බිමන් සඳහා යොදා ගැනීමටද සිදුවේ. ඇතැම් රාජ්‍ය හා එසේ නොවන උත්සව, සම්මන්ත්‍රණවලදී, ලැබෙන ආරාධනා සඳහා අපේම ඉන්ධන වැයකරමින් අනන්ත, අප්‍රමාණ ගමන් බිමන් ගොස්‌ ඇත්තෙමු. අපට ඉන්ධන වියදම් දෙන්නෝ නැත්තාහ. The Mysterious Universe නම් ග්‍රන්ථයේ කර්තෘ Sir Games Jenas මෙසේ කියා තිබේ. "කටමැත දෙඩීමට මිනිසා බොහෝ කැමතිය. එසේ කළ විට එහි වැදගැම්මක්‌ ඇති දෙයක්‌ නැති බැවින් වගකීමක්‌ද නැත. ගැඹුරු හා ස්‌ථිරසාර කථා කරන මිනිසුන්ගෙන් පමණි මිහිතලයට යහපතක්‌ සිදුව ඇත්තේ".

පේරාදෙණිය විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයේ ආරම්භක කුලපති වූ සර් අයිවර් ජෙනිංග්ස්‌ ලියූ ,"The Kandy Road" කෘතියේ තැනක මෙසේ දක්‌වයි.
"The autonomy or essential independence of a University community is not an end in itself.It involves the gurantee and the protection of the freedom to think,speak,read and write".

එහි සරල අරුත වන්නේ, "සරසවි ප්‍රජාවක්‌ සතු අවශ්‍යතම බලය හෝ ශක්‌තිය එතෙකින් නිමාවට නොයයි. (එහි වූ ඉදිකිරීම් පද්ධතියට සමගාමීව) ඔවුනට නිදහසේ සිතන්නට, කථා කරන්නට, කියවන්නට හා ලියන්නට ඇති අයිතිය හා වගකීම ආරක්‍ෂාවීමද ඊට ඇතුළත්ය.

විශ්වවිද්‍යාල සමාජයෙහි වූ බුද්ධි සංස්‌කෘතිය, කිසිවකුගේ බලයකට වැරදි අර්ථ දීමකට හෝ තර්ජනයකට යටපත් විය යුත්තක්‌ නොවේ. අවශ්‍යතන්හි වැදගත් සම්පත් දායකත්වයක්‌ සේ එහි ශක්‌තිය අවංකව යොදා ගැනීම රජයකද වගකීම වේ. විශ්වවිද්‍යාල සංස්‌කෘතියක ඇති ස්‌වාධීන බව සටහන් කරන ලද්දේ විදේශික උගතකු විසිනි. ඒත් අපේ රටේ ඇතැම් බලවේග, එහි වූ ස්‌වාධීන බව අකාමකා දැමීමට කටයුතු කළහොත් සිදුවන්නේ, මාකට්‌ සංස්‌කෘතියක්‌ බිහිවීමය. රටක තාක්‍ෂණය හා මානව ශාස්‌ත්‍ර හා සෞන්දර්යය සමබර විය යුතුය. මානව ශාස්‌ත්‍ර භාෂා, දර්ශන වලින් එක්‌වරම වෙළෙඳපළ වටිනාකම් සෙවිය යුතු නැත. එබඳු විෂයයන්ගෙන් ඉතා සුගැඹුරු හා බහුශ්‍රැත ඥන සම්පත් බිහිකිරීම සිදුවේ. එහි ඵලප්‍රයෝජනය දීර්ඝ කාලීන වේ, අදූර දර්ශී ඇතැමුන් විසින් රටක උගතුන් හා බද්ධ සංස්‌කෘතිය හෑල්ලු කරන විට, ඊට පහළින් සිටින සියලු අසංස්‌කෘත බලවේග උඩපනිමින් ඊට පහරදෙනු ඇත.

සරසවි ඇදුරෙකුගේ වාහනයක්‌, යම් හෙයිකින් අධිවේගයෙන් යන දේශපාලන මැරයකුගේ වාහනයක යාන්තම් ගැටුනොත්, (වරද මැරයාගේ වුවද) අපහසුවට පත්වන්නේ ඇදුරාය. ඕනෑම හීලෑ මස්‌කන වර්ගයේ සතෙකුට මිනීකෑමට ඉගැන්විය හැකිය.

උගතකු අතින් මානුෂික වැරදි සිදුවිය හැකිය. මන්ද ඔහු පෘථග්ජන බැවිනි. මහැදුරු සරච්චන්ද්‍රයන්ගේ නිර්මාණද මේ කරුණට සාක්‍ෂි දරයි. ඕනෑම උගතෙකුගේ පෞද්ගලික ජීවිතයේ ගැටලු පැවතිය හැකිය. ඔහුට ආදරය, ප්‍රේමය සම්බන්ධ අත්වැරදි පැවතිය හැකිය. එබඳු මානෂික දුබලකමකදී වුවද උගතා, ඊට පහළ නූගත්, අවස්‌ථාවාදී, බලකාමී මැරයකුගේ තත්ත්වයට පත් නොවේ. කෝපයකදී, ශෝකයකදී මානුෂික හැඟීම් මත පිහිටා සිටියද උගත්කම නමැති ශික්‍ෂණය, මේ රටේ අන් සියලු ශික්‍ෂණ ක්‍රම අභිබවා ඉදිරියෙන් සිටී.

උගතුන්ගේ සංස්‌කෘතිය හෑල්ලු කරන, කටට ආවක්‌ම කියන ඕනෑම අයෙකුට කාරුණිකව සිතා බැලිය යුතු කරුණක්‌ වේ. තමන් මොනතරම් අවස්‌ථාවාදී වුවද, තම දරුවන් වඩා උගත් වඩා උසස්‌ වඩා ශික්‍ෂිත අයවළුන් කිරීම ඔවුන්ගේ අවංක ප්‍රාර්ථනය විය හැකිය. එවන් දරුවෙකුට සරසවියට පැමිණීමට සිදුවනු ඇත. එවිට ඔවුනට ශිල්ප දිය යුතු වන්නේ අර ඇදුරන්ටමය. ගුරු යනු ලෝකය පාලනය කරන්නා යන අදහස එක්‌ ශ්ලෝකයක ඇත. "ග" කාරාඋච්‍යතෙ විෂ්ණුඃ" ගුරු යන්නෙහි "ග" අකුරින් ලොව පාලනය කරන විෂ්ණු හැඳින්වෙයි. ලොව පාලනය කරන්නාට පහර දුන්විට ලෝකයේ ආධ්‍යාත්මික පැවැත්ම විනාශ වේ.

ආචාර්ය සාලිය කුලරත්න
පේරාදෙණිය විශ්වවිද්‍යාලය

Universities are only one part of an education system needing overhaul

The Island, 29/05/2011, By David Bandara

I fail to understand the argument currently being aired about new university students engaging in a short leadership training programme. Having been a scout leader, though now retired, for 20 years, the activities these young people will undergo are very similar to those of good traditional scouting, and which still hold good to this very day. Maybe some of the success of Singapore is due to the two years National Service that all boys are required to undertake at 18 years, before entering higher education. Israel and South Korea also require all young people to complete a period of National Service. Hopefully the current program will not include any training in weapons, combat.or military discipine which should be left to those who voluntary enlist in the army.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has the qualities of vision and leadership essential to any head of state. However inspiring his speeches maybe, and no one should doubt his sincerity, they do not lead to facts on the ground. Proclamations of tourist numbers reaching 2 million by 2012, GDP $ 5,000 per person by 2015, and Sri Lanka becoming the educational hub of South Asia, seem overly ambitious and unlikely. An educational promise that all schools will become as desirable as Royal College, thus making every school a "popular" school, can only be seen as rhetoric.

The President’s concern with the low standards of English language is welcomed, but his responses to bring about improvements, have yet to bear fruit. The education system does function and certainly far better than neighboring India, in spite of Sri Lanka being a recipient of that government’s generosity towards Sri Lanka’s educational institutions. But it is not an education system in keeping with a country aspiring to educational and technological superiority.

Recently, the newspapers carried government announcements about the application process for grade one students’ school admissions for 2012. Around six thousand words (sufficient for a dissertation) gave step by step details of a most complicated points system that parents must understand to apply for admission to a "popular" school. Parents can file applications for up to six schools and since the admission process is so complicated, there is scant chance that the many thousands of applications could be computerized. So for many months to come, school principals and other staff must spend countless hours reviewing, checking and interviewing thousands of prospective parents. A small paragraph towards the end states that parents can only be asked for financial contributions towards the school activities fund, but failed to show what the maximum that could be charged. Parents feel devastated when their child fails to be selected for a grade one class that may have in excess of 50 students; be so tightly packed into a classroom meant for half that number; and subjected to long, and often dangerous school transportation. In grade five the pressure starts again with the Scholarship Examination. Except that preparation for this hurdle now begins as low as grade two both in school and with extra tuition classes that prey on parents hoping that their child will obtain sufficient marks for the "popular" school of their choice. Sadly, as with grade one enrollment 90% of children "fail". The A level examinations scores that hold the keys to university admission are regulated by the "magic" Z scores. One single mark more or less can mean success or failure for a coveted place. So the more tuition classes attended can mean a few precious extra points. However good the school attended might be, every student must attend tuition classes to stay in the rat race.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has appointed an experienced and able Minister to spearhead his educational reforms. There has been no lack of speeches, meetings both large and small at Temple Trees, new initiatives, funding from good neighbours and other sources, but little seems to have changed. Examination results are not very inspiring and would be far worse if students did not attend tuition classes, and if the large number of dropouts and retakes were included in statistics. The President has an unenviable task to create a modern education system, especially to create a university system that vies with the best in Asia. The Peradeniya University may boast of being one of the "finest and most prestigious" universities in the world, but the facts prove otherwise. The leading university in the country does not have a theatre, a museum, an art gallery, desirable places for eating, a visitors’ centre, or quality sport facilities. Culturally, it has no proper drama, music, art, dance, or many fully functioning student societies. Compared with Malaysia, Singapore, and other regional universities, Peradeniya, apart from its attractive landscape is no show place.

The President, wisely and occasionally, diverts from his planned itinerary to walk in unannounced to some government offices. Were he, or the Minister of Education, to make similar visits to schools both urban and rural, a valuable insight into what is right and wrong with the system could be gained. Planned visits to selected schools as Chief guest for a special occasion accompanied by an overly large entourage, may provide good publicity but little insight into the real problems.

Despite the fact that the First Lady is a highly qualified preschool teacher and directs a large private preschool in Colombo, the government has failed to give any real attention to this highly important area of education. As many as half a million 3-5 year-olds attend some form of so-called Montessori, though the majority of the estimated 12,000 preschools have little or no connection with the best of Maria Montessori’s philosophy or any other.recognised educational methodology. Apart from a distant education course conducted by the OUSL, no university offers Early Childhood Education as a full time or part-time course of study towards a degree or diploma. Meanwhile, Singapore and other universities have Early Childhood Education departments with degrees to Doctorate level, and which require full-time study for 3 or 4 years. In place of a quality university department with a model preschool for practice and research, numerous private higher educational colleges award diplomas, certificates in Early Childhood Education, Development, and Psychology, for as little as 3 hour weekly lectures over a 6 months period. Failure rate is unrealistically low. Many Montessori schools have also jumped on the bandwagon and award Australian and American Montessori training and diplomas to their trainee teachers for a substantial fee whilst utilizing them as unpaid teaching assistants. Indications are that most of these courses do not prepare teachers for this very exacting area of preschool education, and the various diplomas and certificates are hardly indicators of quality.

Private education, whether the government likes it or not, is here to stay. The burgeoning number of ‘International schools’, with study in the English medium, indicates a general concern that the state schools are unable to teach English to a high standard. The tuition classes have now become a parallel education system and a necessary though unfortunate part of most children’s lives. The government recently announced that it would provide jobs for 30,000 unemployed graduates in various government departments. Were the number of graduates to double, there would exist a serious unemployment problem that would be difficult to mop up by creating even more government jobs. Before any more educational announcements are made or new initiatives started, a full and honest analysis of the entire system needs to be made by independent observers and researchers not aligned to politics. There are some very praiseworthy highlights hidden in the system, and these should be explored for their successes. 2% of GDP spent on education will not allow for any improvements. 5% is closer to what is needed, but even this amount cannot guarantee success without a clear and well-defined understanding of the problems and their solutions. Meanwhile the solutions are being made in advance of an analysis covering the crucial problems and failures in the system.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Does Wage Growth Retard Economic Growth?

The Sunday Leader, 29/05/2011

By Dr. O.G Dayaratna-Banda
Department of Economics and Statistics
University of Peradeniya

Adoring the discarded neo-liberalism

The Secretary to the Treasury of Sri Lanka has seemingly informed the Vice Chancellors of the Universities at a meeting held at the UGC that the “increase of the salaries of university academics or any other public sector workers would seriously undermine economic growth”.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by those who hold key positions at the Ministry of Higher Education. This appears to be the official stance of the government. Apart from intellectual paucity and empirical invalidity, this statement discredits the intellectual consciousness of the university academics.

The Treasury of Sri Lanka has surrendered to a very peculiar theory that “salary growth negatively causes economic growth”. This argument is arising from the textbook neo-liberalism, a doctrine that started to influence the policy making process of developing countries in various forms since the 1970s. This doctrine advocated profit-led growth policy in diverse forms. The profit-led export promotion growth model in most countries was associated with suppressing wage costs and domestic consumption in order to remain internationally competitive and to achieve growing shares of world markets as far as possible. However, recent global experience suggests that this growth model does not generate sustainable growth outcomes.

Neo-liberal theoreticians got the rich nations to embed this doctrine in the policies, agendas and strategies of the multilateral institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. The policy agenda of the neo-liberal theory promotes various policy adjustments including the following in order to promote export and curtail domestic demand through wage-suppression. According to this doctrine, developing countries should:

a. adopt a balanced budget policy since expansionary fiscal or monetary policies are detrimental to economic growth,
b. reduce the size of the public sector and control public sector wage growth,
c. control wage growth to create export competitiveness,
d. remove minimum wage regulations,
e. adopt a policy of suppressing trade unions and others to reduce cost of labour so that profits accumulated by the afflu- ent class will be reinvested, which, in turn will foster economic growth,
f. adopt profit-led and export-promotion growth policies through various arrangements to contain domestic demand including wage-suppression.

By the 1990s, most developing countries abandoned economic neo-liberalism which had generated serious negative consequences for growth and social policies. Developing countries, in fact, switched to a mixed economic policy regime in which both state and markets play a complementary bigger role. The Neo-liberal agenda may work in economies that have already reached full-employment levels or those which have achieved developed economy status, and not in growing underdeveloped economies. In full employment economies, stabilization is the central issue for which neo-liberal prescriptions may work. After the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, most economists realized that neo-liberal policy prescriptions are not even able to stabilise developed economies. However, the political leadership of the present government has seemingly been misguided by the bureaucrats to surrender to this discarded doctrine of economic neo-liberalism.

Empirical evidence suggests that domestic demand-led growth policies appear to foster economic growth in developing economies. As against the theory presented by the Treasury of Sri Lanka, I would like to emphasize the success of the domestic demand-led or wage-led growth in developing countries.

Wage-led cum domestic demand-led growth

One can argue that there is a mutually reinforcing feedback between wage growth and economic growth as depicted in the diagram. It means “economic growth tends to stimulate wage growth and wage growth in turn stimulates economic growth”.

No sustained economic growth without real wage growth

There is a considerable amount of empirical evidence from various countries that economic growth needs to accompany higher wages. A recent publication (2009) titled “no sustained economic growth without real wage growth” emphasized that “Americans have somehow survived despite this stagnation (of wages) by resorting to a small bag of budgeting tricks. But now those tricks are not going to work any more. Simply put, from here on in, we are not going to have any sustained economic growth until real wages finally grow too”. The study, therefore, recommends that wage growth is essential to facilitate faster economic growth because it is the growth of wages that can create additional demand for the additional output created through the growth process. The study went on to say that “… we are not going to see any sustained recovery in the American economy until average Americans see a real and sustained increase in their compensation for labor…”
Realising the tragedy of profit-led growth and merits of wage-led growth
In a recent high level academic conference held in the United Kingdom, growth economists emphasised the importance of shifting from the profit-led growth model to a wage-led growth model. The summary of the arguments presented there is following. “Neo-liberalism has led to a polarization in the distribution of income and given rise to a finance-led growth model that collapsed in the worst crisis since the 1930s (occurred in 2007-2008). Wage-led growth aims to link wage growth to productivity growth and inflation.” Growing wages could then generate higher demand by fuelling consumption. But such a strategy could also ignite the growth of the capital stock if consumption demand has second round effects on investment, and if wage growth induces technological change and productivity growth.
For the last three decades, most countries in the European Union have practiced a profit-led growth strategy seriously increasing the income inequality prior to the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. Thorsten Schulten in his article titled A European Minimum Wage Policy for a More Sustainable Wage-Led Growth Model argues that “compressing the wage structure from the lower end would lead to a more egalitarian distribution of income and stabilise the wage share.” He argues that the rapid increase in income inequality led to a situation where private demand from wage income lagged systematically behind the overall economic development and thereby dampened economic growth. Two growth models practiced by many countries have contributed to the global imbalances and financial crisis of 2007-2008. The first was a credit-based growth model typified by the United States and some others. In these countries growth was driven by private consumption but it was based on household borrowing rather than wage income growth. A second strategy was followed by countries such as Germany, Japan and China which adopted an export-led growth model that sought to offset a lack of domestic demand by export surpluses. The global financial crisis has now shown that neither growth model is sustainable. Schulten asserts that “the development of a new post-crisis growth model has to shift the focus again to a more wage-led growth strategy and a much more equal development of incomes. While trade unions have to do their own job to regain their organisational power, policymakers could promote a more equal income distribution essentially through two channels, the first being a more progressive tax policy with an emphasis on higher taxes for top income earners and the second a re-regulation of labour market institutions in order to re-balance the power relations between capital and labour and to strengthen trade unions’ structural and institutional power.”

Henry Liu (2010) explains how to achieve economic development through wage-led growth. He states that stagnant worker wage income leads to overcapacity in the economy resulting in slow economic growth and economic stagnation. In the economics of development, there is an iron-clad rule that “income is all”. The rule states that the effectiveness of developmental policies, programs and measures should be evaluated by their effect on raising the wage income of workers; and that a low-wage economy is an underdeveloped economy because it keeps aggregate consumer demand below its optimum level, thus causing overcapacity in the economy that needs to be absorbed by export.” No growth of wages means that developmental policies, programmes, and measures have failed. Growth of income of workers is the key factor in generating national wealth in a country.

Economic growth experience of Taiwan and Singapore in 1970s and 1980s also points to a wage-led growth. James, Naya, and Meier (1989) discuss the role of wage-led growth in East Asian rapid development. Taiwan and Singapore adopted high wage policy to accelerate economic growth. For instance, during the rapid growth period from mid 1970s to early 1990s Singapore reported about 70% real wage growth. The idea of this high wage policy is to promote skill intensive economic activities and to move workers from unskilled to skilled worker categories. This wage-led growth policy has significantly contributed to accelerating economic growth in Singapore and Taiwan. This policy has also significantly contributed to reducing poverty and income inequality in those countries.

Role of Trade Unions in Wage-led Growth

What is the role of Trade Unions in the wage-led and domestic demand-led growth? Lingens Jorg (2004) in his book titled Union Wage Bargaining and Economic Growth emphasized that trade unions might foster economic growth. Trade unions would stimulate economic growth by signaling the policy makers that there is a shortage of domestic private demand and that raising wages is essential to fill the demand-supply gap. If policy makers do not positively respond to these signals by raising wages, sooner or later, higher growth will not be sustained because of the lack of aggregate demand.
A recent article appeared in an official e-news channel reported that wages in China have nearly doubled over the past four years, outpacing the rate of growth of the economy. This rapid growth of wages occurred because the Government of China and the private corporate leadership have recognised the fact that it is the growth of domestic demand from the Chinese people that can make the rapid economic growth more sustainable.

What can the middle class do in wage-led growth?

The importance of the middle class in fostering economic growth through wage-led growth should also be recognised. A study titled Exiting from the Crisis: Towards a Model of More Equitable and Sustainable Growth , a group of leading economists including Nobel Economics Laureate Joseph Stiglitz (2010) showed the complete failure of the profit-led export promotion growth model. The book emphasized that “too often, we think of good jobs or boosting incomes for middle-class families as the outcome of growth. But a key lesson from the past few years is that placing the incomes of the middle class at the center of our growth framework may be the only path to sustainable growth.” This is diametrically opposed to the most common neo-liberal theory that growth comes only through sustained focus on the need of business to see reduced costs, regardless of the implications for employment and wages. Professor Joseph Stiglitz and associates emphasized that a policy of constant wage growth for middle class would stimulate economic growth. The path to growth runs though the middle class. It is the expansion of the middle class and their incomes that can create stronger domestic demand for the goods and services created through the growth process. Expansion of middle class also means reducing the poor segments of the society.

Who benefitted from the doubled income in Sri Lanka?

The Budget Speech 2011 states that the per capita income of Sri Lanka has doubled in 2010 compared to 2005. It also says that the economy has recorded a higher rate of growth during this period. If this information is correct, then, a pertinent question to ask is as to whose income has doubled since 2005. Since the income of the fixed income earners, including public sector workers, have not doubled in real terms since 2005 because their salaries/wages did not double, one may wonder that the variable income earners including the affluent class of the country might have received a bigger share of the doubled income. Then, again, the government is saying that the income disparity has narrowed since 2005. If the income disparity has narrowed, the income of most people should have almost doubled as a consequent to the doubled per capita income of the country. This has not happened with regard to most public sector workers including university academics. Another point is that if the economy’s per capita income has doubled since 2005, it is the responsibility of the government to raise the wages of the fixed income earners working in the public sector including university academics so that they would also benefit from that growth. If there is no growth of wages, one may wonder as to what is the use of having higher economic growth. Does that rapid growth and doubled income mean to help the crony capitalist class in the country who can later smuggle that wealth to whichever country they want to migrate?

Wage growth and inflation

A main argument presented by the political leadership and bureaucrats when there are demands for salary hikes is that wage increases create inflation through raising cost of production. This argument is not true for developing countries which operate at well below the full employment levels along with strong shortages of effective aggregate demand. One needs to recognise the fact that economic growth is the central issue in countries like ours, not the stabilisation. For a growing economy, periods of excess money supply stemming from expansionary fiscal policies are required. For this to happen, a certain level of inflation has to be tolerated by the society. Reducing inflation to very small rates through fiscal and monetary disciplining by undertaking credit market repression and wage repression is extremely detrimental to economic and social progress of countries like ours. It is well known that, in countries like ours which operate at well below the full employment levels, policies to promote aggregate demand will not be detrimental to economic growth. In a recent in-depth and rigorous empirical study with reference to Sri Lanka, we found that expansion of government spending through deficit budget policies since the 1980s have not negatively affected private investment and have, in fact, positively contributed to economic growth (Priyadarshanee and Dayaratna-Banda 2010). Apart from this, any sensible person would realise that a huge amount of public funds are spent on various wasteful activities which can easily be diverted to raise wages in order raise demand to facilitate economic growth.

Elusive quest for sustainable growth through wage-repression

A careful analysis of the policy response of the present government regarding the salary hike demands of university academics and others leads to the conclusion that UPFA political leadership has surrendered to the neo-liberal agenda of the bureaucrats and multilateral institutions. They have completely disregarded the fact that wage repression and profit promotion has generated dismal consequences in most countries. Wage-repression will not generate prosperity. It will, in fact, generate economic misery. It is still not too late for the UPFA political leadership to realise that it is a wage-led cum domestic demand-led growth policy that would promote growth and make the already achieved rapid economic growth more sustainable. Such a growth strategy will also create a more egalitarian and humane society.

Short URL: http://www.thesundayleader.lk/?p=39832

The King And The Monkeys

The Sunday Leader, 29/05/2011, By Sisira Pinnawala

The proverbial monkey that killed the king it loved so much because it did not want even a mosquito harming him is a story that we all have enjoyed as children. It told us what harm can misplaced loyalty do to a person and what danger awaits a person who trusts his life with the wrong kind even if it displays extreme loyalty. In everyday life such situations are commonplace and that is why the story is so. In everyday life when such things happen the repercussions are not felt much, since the affected are in a limited circle. In politics however as with the king in the story, it is the leader who is put in harm’s way and the whole country suffers the consequences. In the politics of this country this act has been played many times over in the past with a slightly different storyline every time but with similar results. In the story it is one monkey but in politics it is a troop of monkeys that is responsible for the mischief when it happens. In the story the loyal advisors to the king killed the monkey so that there would not be another such tragedy. In the politics of this country, the king gets killed and the monkeys go scot free to kill another king. The recent trade union action by the university academics has brought the act back on stage again.
In the modern political drama there are three groups that play the monkey in the life of the political leadership of this country. They to a certain degree are creations of the political leadership itself; at least two of them are direct products of political decisions of the past. The other has evolved into shape through its own actions to a large extent but also supported by actions of the rulers who discovered the benefit in promoting this group. These three groups are representative of three influential segments of the country, namely, the top public servants, the law makers, academics and professionals. Their importance in the drama may not be necessarily in that order but their historical emergence is. Furthermore, there is one thing that they all share and keep them together; their survival.
The Top Public Servants
Politicisation of public service has a relatively long history in this country. The first formal attempt to control the public service administration can be traced back to the workers committees in the mid 60s. Though this was done with good intentions of making the public sector accountable it opened the doors for politicians to interfere with the system. The abolition of both the Public Service Commission and the Judicial Service Commission by the 1972 Constitution eliminated all remaining safeguards. Today the interference of the political leadership in the public service has expanded much further and the entire public service is under political control. The provisions that were used sparingly and under very special circumstances with proper consultation in the old days, are used regularly today to get friends, relations and cronies to high positions so that political masters feel comfortable.
The unfortunate result of this is the second or third best becoming decision makers in the public service. Their existence and survival rest with politicians who install them there. This has created a dependency relationship between public servants and politicians. The link to politicians gives these men power that is beyond their position, and perks and benefits too to go with it. Politicians in return get a servile public service that bends over backwards and a little more to fulfill their whims and fancies.
In this master-servant relationship the public servant has become a mere messenger boy of the political master. The greater the dependency, the greater the power of the bureaucrat and it is a vicious circle one cannot get out of. The top public servant who is caught in this can no longer serve the public and is not bound by the rules, norms and traditions of the service. The sole aim of his/her existence is to serve the master. What is important is the immediate perks, and if retirement is nearing perhaps an extension of service or even a diplomatic posting after retirement (to be with the child who was sent abroad with the public servant’s pay of course). It therefore is not surprising for top public servants to play the role they play and not mind the consequences except those that personally affect them.
The Law Makers
The law makers in this country today are no longer the people’s representatives they used to be in the old days. They are servants of the top political leadership. The creator of this monkey is the government that came into power in 1977. To survive under the system one has not only to toe the line of the leader but also be servile. Though one could argue that the situation relaxed somewhat during the latter part of President Chandrika Bandarabaike’s regime due to the dual leadership situation, it was however a temporary deviation and the fundamentals of this second form of political master-servant relationship remains unchanged.
Theoretically the law makers of this country are “elected” by the people but practically to be elected they need to be “selected” first. This is a rule that leads to an unswerving yet bizarre and very warped form of loyalty binding people’s representatives and their leader, especially when the leader is the leader of the party in power. Invariably the result, as we see today, is a master-servant relationship connecting a hierarchically organised group of “yes-men” (read politicians).
There are two ways of demonstrating loyalty of the law makers to their leader. The first is to be the mouth piece of the leader and utter in public every word the leader says. There is therefore nothing of their own in the public speeches of our law makers. ‘As my leader says’ is the beginning of practically every sentence they utter in public. The second is to be seen with the leader wherever he is present both in public and in private life. Their priority is not their electorate but the electorate of the leader or that of somebody who they think is close to the leader. The public often gets a ringside view of this type of shameless display of “loyalty” during elections.
Advisors To The Government
This is the most unusual group in the modern day version of the monkey story and one that is to a large extent its own creation. Though there have been academics and professionals in active politics before, the evolution of this particular species began during the run up to the 1994 Presidential election. The political involvement of professionals and academics before that, in a very peculiar way, was apolitical; even when they were members of political parties they on the whole maintained their professional integrity and independence. They were certainly no political valets of the leader like the ones there are today. The year 1994 was a watershed, for not only did it bring a very large number of academics and professionals onto the public political stage but also through that created a unique group of “political yes-men academics/professionals.” Today the majority of academics/professionals who advise the government are mere foot soldiers to politicians and not in the class of the ones that used to guide politicians in the good old days. Of course one could argue that in the good old days it was a different class of politicians too.
Today we have a new breed of academics and professionals who compete for top positions in the administration and government. These often are a self serving group of people who use their political connections to hide their intellectual deficiencies and academic inadequacies. Their political masters in turn benefit from them as their whims and fancies can be legitimised by claiming they have the support of the intelligentsia of the country, a truly beneficial relationship though pathetic. The unfortunate thing about this is that the majority of these advisors know little of the subjects they are supposed to know and even less of the politics they are playing. The path to a position normally begins with the elections when they are taken in groups and herded into meetings for “discussions and dialogues.” Today it is a must for politicians in this country to publish in the papers a list of names of academics and professionals asking the public to vote for “their candidate” and even get some of them on their campaign trail. This list is the one that is consulted later when appointing advisors.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil And Talk No Evil (But Do All Evil)
Like the proverbial monkey the three groups encircle the top political leadership and have nothing but praise for their master. They do not dare to contradict the leader for that could lead to loss of position and perks. There is always another who would be waiting to take the place of the one who gets into the bad books of the leader. The leadership naturally is now used to being praised and does not want to hear anything bad about it. It is a see no evil, hear no evil and talk no evil situation for the leader and the monkeys.
The only way to put an end to this scourge is by dismantling the system that nurtures it. It can only happen if politicians become true representatives of the people and the public service is allowed to be independent. Academics and professionals also need to re-establish their dignity and worth. Stopping the monkeys will be good for not only the country but also the political leadership. Any attempt to break this system will create a minor crisis but if the present situation is allowed to continue the resultant crises will be of extraordinary proportions. The better and the less painful option is for the politicians to take the lead and dismantle this system at least for their own sake. After all, working for their own sake is nothing new to them.
Sisira Pinnawala
University of Peradeniya

President didn’t allow Devasiri to talk

The Island, 28/05/2011

The agitation by university dons for higher salaries is another issue that threatens to upset the applecart. The president of the Federation of University Teacher’s Associations Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri complains that at the discussion held last week with the president, he was not allowed to express his views freely with the president interjecting every time he tried to open his mouth. The president had even told Devasiri not to be a ‘Shylock’ (and keep demanding the proverbial pound of flesh). What really is the issue involved here? The salaries of academic staff are currently as follows:

Table 1

University Salaries at Present

In 2008, a committee headed by Professor M.T.M.Jiffry was appointed to look into the question of university salaries and it received submissions from the various trade unions and incorporated the representations made by the unions in their report. What the Federation of University Teacher’s Associations is asking for is the implementation of the recommendations of this committee. The salary revisions proposed were as follows.

Table 2

The proposed salary hike

One of the arguments of the Jiffry Committee was that university lecturers were drawing lower salaries than employees with similar qualifications in other comparable statutory institutions and private sector organizations. There however is one major difference between a teaching job and any other kind of employment – paid holidays. All university dons get at least four full months of the year off, in addition to the weekends when the universities are in session. The lack of paid holidays is something that is felt very keenly by those in all other occupations.

Even when they are at work, the work load of a university don is not excessive. For example, a professor would deliver lectures for about 5 to 6 hours a week, a senior lecturer for about 8 hours and a probationary lecturer for about 10 hours per week. Moreover, its not as if the lecturers have to prepare afresh for every lecture. There is a certain syllabus that has to be taught and the basics remain the same year after year whatever the subject, whether law, physics, or medicine. Great leaps in knowledge do not occur everyday, and once you get into a groove, the job is not necessarily a high pressure occupation.

These factors have to be taken into account when discussing salaries. The Central Bank is one institution that the Jiffry Committee has taken as an example. But the Central Bank does not get four months of the year in paid holidays. Therefore it may perhaps not be very accurate to compare universities with the Central Bank or indeed with any other government or private sector job. Given the fact that a university job had a lot of paid holidays in addition to being a low stress job would mean that a lower salary than the private sector is called for. But university dons are not entitled to a full government pension, and they have to contribute to the EPF and a contributory pension scheme in order to secure retirement benefits. So in all reasonableness the salaries of university dons have to be higher than that of a government servant holding a comparable position.

It is after weighing such factors that a reasonable salary scale for university dons should be arrived at. If the Central Bank salaries are to be taken as a benchmark, then it should be the Central Bank salaries with a proportionate deduction for the paid vacations that university dons enjoy. If the universities get four months of the year off, then their annual salaries should be compared to eight months of the Central Bank pay. It is only those who have worked in jobs with and without paid holidays who will realize the difference between the two.

Then again there is the need to make the university salary scales attractive enough to retain the best. This has been accepted in principle by the government as well, and they have begun bumping up the salaries. The budget for 2011 alone increased the salaries of the academic staff by the following amounts. Devasiri the FUTA president acknowledged that these increases have in fact been implemented. The research allowance has to be applied for but can be obtained upon application.

Table 3

Salary Increase through special allowances in 2011 Budget

Obviously there are limits to which salaries and allowances can be increased in any given year and in a situation where the government itself has accepted on principle that the salaries of university staff has to be increased further, whether it is reasonable to continue to keep away from duties, is a moot point. Devasiri says that no trade union begins agitating with a minimum demand – they always start with the maximum so that there will be some leeway for negotiation. He also acknowledges that the entire increase cannot be given in one budget. What he says is that the government should give them a time frame within which the salary proposals would be implemented. But there are other implications in giving such pledges to university dons. Because university positions do not get a non-contributory government pension and they have to contribute to a pension fund and the EPF, their salaries have to be higher than that of government servants in comparable positions. But the difference cannot be such that the government servants feel short changed.

This is a third world country and the salary demands have to take that fact into consideration. It is not as if the government has turned a blind eye to the university salaries question – the increments in Table 3 have already been given this year. Devasiri even poses the question – how much are ministers paid? But this again is to compare two different jobs. University dons are not required to travel all over the country or deal with constituents and stakeholders from all over the country. Perhaps a less confrontational approach is called for. The minister of higher education S.B.Dissanayake obviously wants to improve the standards of the universities and he has said time and again that salaries have to be upped. Obviously, he is as anxious as the university dons themselves to recruit and retain the best. Given all that and the fact that a substantial increase has been given this year, is trade union action really called for? Such action may have been called for only if the government had been completely deaf to their demands which is hardly the case here.

University crisis: A flicker of hope?

The Island, 28/05/2011, by Nedra Karunaratne, University of Peradeniya

Watching the events of the present trade union action by the FUTA unfold, it is commendable that the members have been able to hold onto their cause for almost three weeks now. The government has tried every tactic from threats, circulars, intimidation, false propaganda and finally coaxing to try to avert the salary increase demanded by the academics. The academics on their part have upheld their stand firmly and stood by their original claim for implementing the 2008 UGC approved salary scale. This situation has arisen from the lack of understanding by the authorities and the good heartedness of the academics. The salary issue has been a festering sore for more than three years, with the government adding some plaster on it whenever the wound opened up. There comes a time when even the most enlightened must say enough is enough.

It is high time that some constructive remedy is brought about along with some reforms if this situation is to be rectified. First of all it is imperative that the academics must be considered as a special category of teachers. The STA of the University of Peradeniya has published an elaborate account in the Island newspaper of the 25th May 2011 for the justification of this claim. However, if that be the case, they should live up to that standard. The title ‘University Professor’ was awe inspiring not so long ago. That may not be the case now since the standards have been lowered in the past years mainly due to the inability to recruit quality personnel to fill the vacancies that have been created specially due to the mass exodus of graduates to western countries and down under.

This dearth has created a vacuum which has resulted in many of the Universities having to hire the most qualified applicant even though the applicant may not be of the highest category. Secondly it must be recognized that the Universities are the institutions which nurture the future workers and administrators of a country. The output of the University depends on the input (the quality of the student) and the teacher (how qualified s/he is). Taking these two facts into consideration, the demands of the University teachers sound very reasonable.

The following points, however, must be considered if the future of the academia and the quality of the programmes taught are to be preserved. First that it is important to come up with a scheme to reward the academics who dedicate their time and energy solely towards their teaching and research commitments and administrative functions. To this end, the research allowance proposed has some credibility. However the percentage offered is only a pittance and is not sufficient to retain or recruit high caliber teachers. Careful thought is needed to draw up a realistic increase in salary structure which can be coupled to a research allowance which is earned by the deserving (there must be an incentive for all to aspire to improve). In addition a fair compensation needs to be allocated for those who give up valuable time for administrative duties, sometimes putting their research activities on hold. This should put an end to lecturers being accused of working only two hours per week. A fact unknown to many is that when a lecturer works two hours he has put in as much hours of preparation and more hours for setting examinations and evaluations. A science teacher at the University of Peradeniya sometimes has to oversee four groups of practical classes per week amounting to 12 to 20 hours per week. This however is not counting the number of hours spent in various committees, boards of study etc, most of which do not pay per sitting.

The second point forgotten or overlooked is the quality of the student. We are told that the cream enters University but the academics do not produce employable students. As long as quotas exist, a section of the cream is shut out of the University. This does not mean the complete eradication of the area basis allocation. Just that after over 30 years of implementation of the quota which began due to lack of facilities in underprivileged areas, no improvement or upgrading of these schools has yet occurred - a strange phenomenon in a country aspiring to be the miracle of Asia. The percentage of students below average admitted to the Universities under this guise is too high.

The Daily Mirror of May 26, 2011, reports that at a Leadership Forum held during the SLASSCOM HR Summit, industry leaders Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Hiran Cooray, Dr. Anush Amarasinghe and Ramesh Schaffter were of the view that university graduates possessed the required technical or hard skills but lacked heavily in soft skills that has resulted in a high rate of unemployment. The soft skills particularly English, leadership and teamwork are stated as those important in graduates to procure employment. These are skills students should acquire during their school years and not after they enter Universities. Is this not an endorsement of the fact that the school system needs upgrading and strengthening in order to inculcate soft skills? The Universities as Institutes of higher learning are for acquiring technical and hard skills. As a matter of fact, the proposed leadership training being given to the new entrants should be extended to all school leavers so that not only graduates, but the entire work force of the country will be able to think independently and take up responsibility.

To get back to the topic, the main thrust of the trade union action is not just asking for money. Academics do not stoop to low levels. This is a struggle to safeguard the dignity and credibility of the University teachers on the one hand and to attract quality teachers on the other. The importance of recruiting new and young staff members is being felt very badly with many departments being nearly 50% understaffed. The fundamental role of the government is to ensure that the percentage of GDP allocated to universities for research is comparable with other Asian countries. This is one way of ensuring that our academics will excel in their fields. That is how Sri Lanka could become a knowledge hub.

Our University rankings will not increase if we continue in the present path. A highly ranked University will attract not only highly qualified teachers, but also foreign students thereby boosting the income of the University. If the future of the country is important, if the workforce is to be made of individuals who can think and take responsibility, the foremost priority should be to staff the higher learning institutions with intelligent, able and satisfied professionals. Let’s not forget that a University exists because of the teachers and its reputation is maintained because of the quality of the teachers. At this juncture, when we are about to see a glimmer of hope with the President consenting to meet the FUTA, it should be kept in mind that excuses given by the government should not be taken seriously as they have violated many of their promises. FUTA should stand firm and fight for the cause of the battered academics who for more that three years have swallowed every pill, bitter and sugar coated given to us by the authorities.

(The writer is professor of chemistry at the Peradeniya University)

The campus rumpus

The Island, May 28, 2011, Editorial

A few years before he died, Sir John Kotelawela, a former prime minister of this country, was entertaining some friends to breakfast at his Kandawela home. The conversation turned to what he would do with the property which he had once said he would like to see converted into a children’s home modeled on the famous Dr. Barnardo’s homes. That thought, apparently, had been abandoned in his twilight years and he told his guests that the only institutions he could trust to look after his much-loved home was the army or the Catholic Church. In the event, the former military officer left the valuable property, now the General Sir John Kotelawela Defence Academy, to the military.

Sir. John having long served as a volunteer soldier, attaining the rank of colonel in service but later promoted general at the end of his life, obviously valued the discipline imparted by the military, something that the government wants to ingrain in new entrants to the universities by the leadership training course that has already begun while a legal challenge to the measure is before the courts. We run an article today written by a retired military officer setting out the flavour of what the freshers will be exposed to; something those of our readers who have been to the annual cadet camps at Diyatalawa would relate to with nostalgia. We do not wish to identify with either those who support or oppose these measures beyond saying that if the notorious ragging that has often assumed caddish and unacceptable proportions in our universities can be brought to a halt by a training scheme such as that which is now underway, a useful purpose would surely have been served.

There is no escaping the fact that the universities have proved totally inept at stopping ragging for decades. Academics who are now agitating for substantial pay increases as well as succeeding university administrations must undoubtedly take a large share of the blame for that. Political forces, principally the JVP, which has long used the universities as a fertile recruiting ground for its cadres, have been accused – credibly we might add – of fomenting trouble on the campuses for its own purposes. However that be, Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake is on record saying that he will stop the ragging. The leadership training now being imparted may well help the freshers themselves to stand up to the raggers and resist ragging and it is to be hoped that the academic community would throw its weight with greater determination than before to help end what had become a totally unacceptable ``tradition’’ on the campuses - driving terror into the hearts of new students and their parents.

We were happy to last week run an outspoken and thought provoking article by Professor Savitri Gunasekera, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, where she was Professor of Law, about the creeping erosion of university autonomy over a long period, the blatant sycophancy of many academics and the willingness of the university administration and the University Grants Commission (UGC) to close their eyes to the violation of the University Act at the behest of the political establishment. The writer, who had herself served on the UGC, cited several examples including one particularly instance where a professor who had retired at age 65 and been reappointed (as may be lawfully done, though not as a permanent employee) had by cabinet decision communicated by the UGC to the University Council been permitted to continue as the Dean of a Faculty despite this being illegal. She has rightly refrained from naming the beneficiary because it is not the person but the principle that matters. The academic community is fully aware of the shameful way in which this whole business was conducted, a sad commentary on how many academics are willing to prostrate themselves before political authorities to earn their patronage. As she has succinctly put it, ``following orders seems to have replaced the concept of academic voice and participation in decision making on matters concerning the universities.’’

On the face of it, the demand for an unconscionable increase in emoluments by the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) would appear unreasonable to most people. It is not only university dons who are underpaid in this country. There is so much that an economy like ours can afford to pay although the propensity of politicians to look after themselves breeds resentment across the board about others who are poorly served. It is also pertinent to say that if there has been no delivery on promises previously made, as has been alleged, the necessary corrective action must be taken. As in many other professions, academics do have privileges including sabbaticals, consultancies and other means of supplementing admittedly poor emoluments. We are aware of a few academics running lucrative `A’ level tuition classes attended by students seeking university entrance. But this does not justify paying them poorly. It must be admitted that those who take university teaching jobs are almost always the cream of their batches with postgraduate qualifications. It is not fair to say that lectures take up only a couple of hours a week and the rest of the time belong to the university teachers to do as they wish. Many teachers spend long hours preparing for their lectures though others do little more than repeat the previous years lecture notes.

It is unfortunate that the confrontation, which may have been defused at least somewhat with the president seeing FUTA last week, has assumed present proportions. The same pressures that are now being applied, like resignation from `voluntary’ positions such as heads of department, have been used before as bargaining levers in salary negotiations. Some of these positions carry small allowances and as pointed out in the debate on this matter where it has been pointed out that doing these jobs enhances prospects of promotions up the academic ladder. Ideally, if the best people rather than `yes’ men and women are appointed as Vice Chancellors or members of the UGC, and such appointments are depoliticized, the academic community would be strengthened with good leadership. The universities and the UGC must be headed by those who command respect for their academic attainment and integrity. Those who endorse candidates at elections are not universally perceived as the best people for these jobs.

Why I'm not (and won't be) a Professor

මනස්‍කාර - Reflections, by Ruvan Weerasinghe

A cursoryglance at the world's dictionaries (or indeed Wikipedia) confirms that thetitle Professor does not carry a unique definition. In France forinstance, my daughter's pre-school teacher was Professeur Gendt. Inother countries such as the USA, Japan and several others, it refers to someonewho is a member of faculty of a college or university. There are also variousother definitions around the world ranging from referring to a person who is ontenure to the head of an academic department.
I must confess that in all of these senses, I am a Professor and amoften referred to as such by various communities that meet at Internationalmeetings and conferences for the past decade or so (I used to correct them atthe beginning but realised its futility as most of them couldn't understandwhat I was making a fuss about!).

In most commonwealth countries however, the term has a more specific meaning.It is the highest position within the hierarchy of academics in auniversity or college. The Latin term itself refers to a person whoprofesses to be an expert in some art or science, a teacher of highest rank.This highest of meanings is what characterises the definition in thesecountries, including Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately, much of what constitutes that high ideal is missing in academicswho are conferred that title in our university system today. Of course many ofthem possibly do profess to be experts in some art or science and sowould qualify under the Latin definition (though whether they are so, isoften unclear since the term expert itself has no uniquemeaning!). I do not consider myself as someone who has dedicated his life toresearch and academia to an extent that fits this lofty definition. To be sure,like everyone else, till around 2002, I did march along that road to promotion,collecting points to earn my right to be called a Professor, as could beseen by my online CV (in a frozen state since then). I wrote academic papers,presented them at conferences, supervised research projects, did my bit ofadministration, spent sabbaticals in prestigious research centres and reformedmy teaching. I even totted up my points to see if I had enough to be atleast an Associate Professor!

The current Professor promotion scheme in Sri Lanka, is so minutely specified,that it can be targetted by any academic without any interest in research orteaching leave alone the lofty ideal of contributing to the global body ofknowledge! Indeed anything in life that is so tightly specified often fallsinto the pitfall that renders the system quite useless. In case of doubt,consider whether we really are identifying all those who are really giftedlearners in our Grade 5 scholarship exam – or is it only those who canretain the most from a particular year in school (Grade 5) that is turning outto be as good a definition of hell for them as we can device!

As someone has said, in most cases, we value what we can measure(read: reading, writing and arithmetic – or for that matter: quantitative,analytical and verbal; and call it IQ) rather than trying to measurewhat we should value (read: kinesthetic, spatial, musical,interpersonal, intrapersonal skills also; including measures such as EQ).

All this is not to refute the claim that Sri Lanka has indeed produced some menand women who have dedicated their lives in the pursuit of knowledge and itssharing. Indeed there are even a handful to be found in the universities thesedays! There are also several who were never bestowed the title since they wereeither not in university employment or their contributions were not recognizedat the time.

Thisbrings me to my top 10 reasons for not being (and not striving to be) aProfessor.

10. Some of the best researchersin my field, and many other fields I am aware of, around the world are simplyMr. (and some Dr.)

9. Professor is nothingmore (and arguably, nothing less) than a designation in a university – nota qualification to be flaunted in public for all purposes

8. If professors call themselvesProf. why not directors, Dir., managers, Man., executives, Exec. or indeedarchitects, Arch., philosophers, Phil. or composers, Comp.?

7. Whether one is a DistinguishedSenior Professor at Harvard, MIT or Stanford, or an Associate Professor (orAssistant in some cases) at one of the many tens or hundreds of colleges of alittle known university in some far flung country, your title would be thesame, simply Prof.

6. The fraternity (of Professors)is not one particularly honouring to belong to anymore in Sri Lanka – check outany university Senate here these days!

5. The quest to give yourself in service,and that of collecting points to become a professor are not alwaysaligned – often one is done at the expense of the other

4. The title Prof. is often usedas a title of elitism rather than one signifying a dedication to a life spentin the creation and dissemination of knowledge

3. Professorship has made mostwho posses it become conceited and puffed up rather thanmaking them humble and indebted to the society that nurtured them(as I personally believe it should)

2. The title Professor is aspiredto more often than not by those who rely on it as their main source of identity(which I personally am not in need of)

And mytop reason for not being (nor wanting to be) a Professor is:

1. I do not consider myself ashaving spent my life (or spending what's left of it) in the pursuit ofknowledge creation and dissemination the way the masters of scientific researchdid in the past (nor I suspect are many of my colleagues who have joined thatfraternity or are frantically striving to!)

From http://manaskaraya.blogspot.com/

Saturday, May 28, 2011

විශ්වවිද්‍යාල කථීකාචාර්යවරුන්ගේ අර්බුදය...

සංවර්ධන සටහන් | Development Diaries May 25 2011, by Young Asia Television

An interview with Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi


සංවර්ධන සටහන් | Development Diaries May 25 2011 from Young Asia Television on Vimeo.

Brain drain of the scientific community of developing countries: the case of Sri Lanka.

Science & Public Policy (SPP), June 2010 by M. U. M. Anas, Seetha I. Wickremasinghe


Many Asian developing countries face an increasing drain of their scientific community as a current challenge. This study identifies the trends in Sri Lanka and investigates the nature and dynamics of the pull and push factors at play here and in host countries. We used the expatriate scientists' database of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka and a follow-up survey. A highest proportion of the expatriate scientists are in the USA, followed by Australia. The majority of respondents held postgraduate degrees; around 50% had doctoral degrees. 'Further studies' was the major reason for emigration, followed by better career prospects. Engineering was the most common specialization, followed by chemistry, agricultural sciences and microbiology/biotechnology/molecular biology. If their demands are adequately met, the majority of the expatriates were willing to return to Sri Lanka. The article discusses the relevance of policies adopted in other countries, such as India and China, for Sri Lanka.ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORCopyright of Science & Public Policy (SPP) is the property of Beech Tree Publishing and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract.

Sri Lanka Leveraging High Technology for Competitiveness and Innovation

The World Bank, 17/09/2009

Naoko Ishii
Country Director
World Bank Sri Lanka and the Maldives

Opening Remarks: Leveraging High Technology for Competitiveness and Innovation -- Report Dissemination Workshop

September, 17, 2009
Prof. Tissa Vitarana, Minister of Science and Technology
Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Minister of Public Administration & Home Affairs and Deputy Minister, Finance and Planning
Prof. Wishwa Warnapala, Minister of Higher education
Mr. Kumara Welgama, Minister of Industry
Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President
Dr. R.A. Mashelkar, President of Global Research Alliance
Mr. Mahesh Amalean, Chairman, MAS Holdings.

Distinguished Guests

I am honored to be present here today at this Workshop, and thank the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Presidential Secretariat for the kind invitation. The presence of key decision makers in the public sector and industry leaders from the private sector makes this an impressive platform for initiating a dialog on the use of technologies and innovation for fostering competitiveness and economic growth. We are indeed pleased that we at the World Bank are able to contribute to this dialog through this recent report on Leveraging High Technology for Competitiveness and Innovation. The report is the outcome of a collaborative initiative with the well known expert in this field Dr. Ravi Mashelkar, President of Global Research Alliance and a former Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of India.

This Report is presented at an opportune time in Sri Lanka’s history. With end of the armed conflict, Sri Lanka is poised to transform itself from a low income country constrained by the conflict to a middle income country with enduring peace, prosperity, and growth. What can drive this transition? In these times of accelerated globalization, “grey matter” is a country’s most powerful resource. How can this intellectual energy be unleashed? In the past Sri Lanka has lost its best intellectual capital through a brain drain. Creating the enabling environment in Science, Technology and Innovation can turn the brain drain into a brain gain.

Unfortunately, Sri Lanka’s public investments in Science and Technology and Innovation have been very modest. In the most recent Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010 Sri Lanka ranked 79th out of 133 countries.

Sri Lanka should seize the prospect of technology driven high value addition economic growth. To gain economic benefits from technology driven growth, countries have to rethink and act simultaneously on their education base, their innovation systems, and their information and communication technology infrastructure, while also building a high-quality economic and institutional regime.

It is encouraging to see that the Government of Sri Lanka espouses this new paradigm at this important time in Sri Lanka’s history. We are pleased that we were able to contribute to these efforts through the report being presented today and look forward to supporting the government in its future endeavors.

Thank you.

Brain drain could wreck our economic potential

Copied from: http://servesrilanka.blogspot.com/2007/06/brain-drain-could-wreck-our-economic.html

Daily Mirror: 28/06/2007" By Dinesh Weerakkody

The outspoken US Ambassador Robert Blake addressing the CIMA Business Leaders summit asserted that the education system in the country was not delivering the volume and quality desired. Highlighting the areas of growth in the Lankan economy Blake noted that in the new economy it was knowledge and training of the people that was imperative to build competitive advantage. Moreover Blake pointed out that most Sri Lankan graduates were unable to find jobs, as universities were not affiliating themselves with business establishments and the lack of knowledge and the fluency in the English language also contributed to this crisis. No doubt the Ambassador has done his homework and his comments are clinically focused. However, his comments are nothing new to many of us. We all know human resource managerial problems in the public sector and low productivity in the public and private sectors remains a priority concern for both the private sector and the public sector. But the real concern in the economy now is the movement of commercial savvy and skilled talent to developed markets like Canada, Australia, UK and South East Asia. Furthermore developed countries have progressed from simply relaxing their laws to actively luring highly qualified people. In addition many of them are using their universities as magnets for talent. As a result we do not have enough talent to go round, so to stop the drain and lure back some of our brightest people back, the private sector and the government needs to collectively address this issue before we totally lose the battle for brain power and wreck our future economic potential.

Employee Market

Today the Indian sub continent is becoming an employee market, with job seekers having the power of choice. Candidates are increasingly selective and know their market value. It is a candidates’ market as more of them are turning job offers or negotiating salaries aggressively. Take Sri Lanka, according to our research the quality of candidates applying for jobs have declined by over 20% and the time taken to fill vacancy has increased from around 40 days to about 90 days, this is despite the number of CVs being received having increased compared to five years ago. Good jobs are going begging and compensation skyrocketing due to the shortage of right people with the required financial sophistication. The brain drain and poor HRD strategies have contributed to this problem and made it difficult for companies to fill critical short-term talent gaps. The demand for vertical skills and companies looking for a closer fit is putting pressure on recruitment consultants to move the limited talent from one company to another at a much faster pace causing mush anxiety to HR managers. Companies are willing to pay big bucks to recruitment consultants to prevent their business growth languishing in the face of shortage of the right talent; these companies have thus been involuntary contributors to a big increase in salary levels. In today’s context a talented employee can be as valuable and hard to replace as a loyal customer. Even more so in companies where value is created by knowledge and information. In fact Lee Kuan Yew argued many years ago that “trained talent is the yeast that transforms a society and makes it rise.” Brainpower as we all know is today the foundation of value creation, therefore injecting an endless stream of good talent into the veins of the business and building the best team in the industry would become the key to ensure that organizations excel in the new global market place, deliver constantly superior products and services and set standards that others can follow.

Government’s role

Winston Churchill 43 years ago observed that ‘the empires of the future will be empires of the mind.” In many developed world our immigrants tend to get criticized unfairly by the press. Many top economies of the world would be lost without our qualified professionals, and many governments would still be very happy to attract our best talent. The most mobile people are not political refugees, but the educated, and they are being sought after as never before. Most governments are easing restrictions on the entry of qualified people. One of the best programmes for drawing in good human capital was initiated in the 80s by the Singapore government. The initiative helped Singapore to attract some of our best brains and even today continues to go out of its way to attract and import foreign talent. For a start the government should focus on wooing our professionals working abroad by making it very attractive for them to come back. But the government’s effort will all depend on whether the country is backed up by a vibrant economy and also managed professionally. A combination of sensible government policies and economic liberalization could work wonders for us. Our best bet would therefore to woo back some of our top Sri Lankan expatriates who have gone abroad to make their money but still feel the tug of their home country. We need to introduce attractive incentives that can entice them to return and also to retain our existing talent. However, despite the incentives they will not return until and unless we improve our governance record and manage the economy professionally. In addition to this the government should initiate a program in consultation with the private sector to equip our university graduates with the required skills set to ensure that our graduates become employable to fill short-term skill gaps.

Business Leadership Challenges

In a recently concluded poll around three quarters of Senior Human Resource Managers interviewed said that attracting and retaining their key talent was their number one, two and three priority for their businesses. Some 60% worried about the company wide talent shortages. Often companies are fond of the maxim employees our most important asset, yet beneath the rhetoric too many CEOs still regard – and –manage – employees as costs. This is dangerous because for many companies the people are the only source of long- term competitive advantage. Therefore companies that fail to invest in employees jeopardize their own success and survival. If the CEO is expected to build and motivate talent it calls upon competencies of character more than technical expertise among CEOs. It relies upon on higher order abilities to create unity and harmony, to instill trust, to create hope and optimism and to work from a base of shared values and interdependence. Leadership of this type is often indirect and behind the scene vs. from the front and top down. Today Motivating people is very different to what it was some years ago, because nowadays, oversees assignments, stock options, casual dress and free gyms are just as important to attracting and retaining talented employees as salaries, job security and careers once were. A happy workforce can reward a company through better profits, better productivity and lower staff turnover. Also there is no special magic in being a good employer. It does not necessarily take money, size, or market to become an employer of choice. Rather, enlightened HR policy and leadership that is committed to its staff.. It is organizational capabilities that create products and services that result in a customer taking money out of their wallets and putting it into ours instead of giving it to their competitors. Therefore a Chief Executive should be committed to creating and sustaining value through people. Secondly he must have some understanding as to how HR can create and deliver value to the business. Thirdly he must get his HR teams to make a strong contribution to the share price and the development of the company. However, the real problem is that most CEOs still do not know how to increase their organization’s competence. As a result the HR managers influence in the organization tends to get marginalized. Furthermore there is so much evidence that good HR practices help to unlock the full value of people capability to deliver business results, and since CEOs are accountable for delivering the numbers they should champion good HR practices in their organization to provide the personal sense of passion that count so heavily for a meaningful work experience and for good business performance.


Globalization has left only one true path to profitability for firms operating in high wage markets, to base their competitive strategy on exceptional human resource management practices. Any benefits that historically have been associated with superior technology and access to capital are now too fleeting to provide sustainable advantage. As this former source of advantage become less relevant, managing human resources by instinct and intuition becomes not only inadequate but also dangerous. The most successful countries in the future will be those that manage their people like the assets they are. In the future the global demand for talent is only likely to intensify further, we are already struggling to find enough good quality engineers, technicians, doctors, HR, marketing and even English teachers. The talent shortage may seem like a crisis to many of us, but like any crisis it’s also an also an opportunity. So for a change the government and the private sector need to be more imaginative about attracting, developing and retaining our best talent in Sri Lanka and abroad. In the final analysis talent has become the world’s most sought after commodity and a growing number of companies outside the tech industries from hedge funds to consulting run on brainpower, therefore a shortage of it could and will cause serious problems to any economy.