Thursday, September 6, 2012
Sri Lanka's universities open but academic strike continues
COLOMBO, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's universities were opened on Thursday after the closure of nearly a fortnight but academics on strike have vowed to continue their protest, an official said here.
Since 4 July all academics have been on an indefinite strike in the country leading to the closure of all universities late last month.
The Federation of University Teachers' Association (FUTA), the trade union of the academics, has emphasized that the strike will continue until all demands have been met.
"Last week the government presented a Cabinet paper to us but it did not contain any solutions to providing our main demands, one of which is allocation of 6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for education," FUTA spokesman M. Mendis said.
There is also tension over the government's proposal to privatize the higher education system.
Government spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella speaking at a press conference on Thursday appealed to the striking academics to work with the government to find a compromise but stopped short of saying whether any of the demands would be met or a time line for the negotiations.
"The government has not dismissed this issue," he insisted adding that he hoped FUTA would reconsider for the stake of the students.
Suspension of university education has provoked several demonstrations by university students that have called on the government to resolve the crisis soon.
Last week hundreds of students were tear gassed by police as they marched in the capital demanding an end to the standoff between the government and academics.