We are a concerned group of academics fighting to ensure the opportunity of high quality public higher education for the Sri Lankan masses. This blog is intended as a bulletin board to share news and ideas relevant to the cause. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the FUTA. If you wish to post any interesting articles please e-mail them to uteachers.sl at gmail.com
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Lanka needs independent education plan - Editorial
The writing appears to be on the wall or the blackboard for education as university professors, lecturers and students in an unprecedented show of strength marched from Galle and Kandy to Colombo in support of their main demand that the annual budgetary allocation for education be increased.
Among other demands, the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) is also calling for the resignation of the Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake – alleging he is Supiri Boru Dissanayake -- lacks the wisdom to handle such an important subject. Mr. Dissanayake, who was once jailed for making comments that were in contempt of the Supreme Court, does not appear to have learnt the right lessons from that jail term, and often speaks in a manner that is insulting if not outrageous. Some of the comments he recently made about the university academics were disgraceful and bordered on defamation.
The Government needs to understand that Sri Lanka has reached the highest literacy rate in South Asia, mainly because of the free education policy of the revered C.W.W. Kannangara. The main concern of the university academics is that the Rajapaksa government is in a subtle way trying to privatise higher education and set up private or international universities just as international schools were set up. Critics also say the Government is trying to promote more private tuition because Education Minister Bandula Goonewardane was a private tuition teacher. They also say that Education Ministry Monitor Mohan Lal Grero is the owner of one of the biggest international schools.
Colombo’s former Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, a prophetic voice for democracy and social justice said in an article published in the Daily Mirror that Sri Lanka needed an independent education service to work out a sustainable national education policy which would not change with a change of government.
Since the Sinhala-only policy of 1956 and the change in the medium of education largely for narrow party political objectives, Sri Lanka’s education policy has been changed several times and the minus marks went to millions of students. Almost 50 years later we have now realised the importance of English in a world that is a globalised village and where the marvels of information and communication technology could be fully used only by those who have a command of the English Language. But some educationists believe it may be too late because the standards of English have dropped so drastically that even some English tuition teachers cannot match the verb with the noun in a simple sentence. They believe that in addition to all the other imports, we may also have to import English teachers from Britain.
With the education service in a complex crisis, we urge the Government to bring together widely-respected educationists, administrators and others in an independent education commission to work out a long-term and long-lasting policy.