Tuesday, October 30, 2012

SRI LANKA: Can the legislature declare all automobiles to be rickshaws?

AHRC, 29/10/2012, Contributors: Basil Fernando

The answer to that question is if the legislature can do whatever it likes, as it is becoming fashionable for some in Sri Lanka to say, it can also make such a declaration. The leader of the party that has the majority in parliament (even better if there is a two thirds majority), can order that his party members should vote to that effect and thus ensure that it will become the law. (photo: Google image)

The impact of the legislature making such a declaration can be twofold. It may merely be a name change. The automobiles will thereafter be called rickshaws. However, if besides a mere name change the legislature goes on to further stipulate that all the engines should be removed from automobiles and that, like rickshaws, they should be pulled by their operators, this would of course mean quite a radical change. If the legislature goes further and prescribes sanctions for those who would not abide by this new legislation, that would result in quite a lot of people ending up in jail or paying fines. 

At the moment the attack on the judiciary is made on this basis that the legislature can do whatever it likes. Thus, the legislature can take over the functions of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and dictate what the JSC should or should not do. For example, it is the position of some ministers and spokesmen for the government that the secretary to the JSC should not have made a press release mentioning, among other things, the interference on the workings of the JSC and the independence the judiciary. They are also of the view that this particular secretary of the JSC should not have chosen for that post as, they claim, he is not senior enough to have been thus chosen. The government and the legislature have thus taken upon themselves the task of deciding who should hold which post in relation to the JSC and what is or is not appropriate for the JSC to do. 

There was at one time the idea that there was something called the separation of powers. The functions of the judiciary under that doctrine are the functions that belong to the judiciary alone and to no one else. That exclusion included the legislature. However, by now, the view of the government seems to be that the legislature can do whatever it likes. This includes the idea that the legislature can do the functions of the judiciary also. 

However, it would be unfair to say that this is entirely an original idea of this government. In fact, in 1972 the then coalition government put forward the idea of the supremacy of the parliament in place of the supremacy of the law. The original conception of the supremacy of the parliament meant that the king was no longer supreme but, like anyone else, is equal before the law. This simply meant that no one was above the law. 

However, the 1978 Constitution quite simply declared that the executive president was above the law and no court could bring any suit against the president. Thus, the legislature did the very opposite of what parliament did at the origin of its power, which was to reduce everyone to be equal before the law. 

President J.R. Jayewardene went on to say that the only thing that the president cannot do is to make a man into a woman and vice versa. This meant that president can, in fact, declare automobiles to be rickshaws if so wishes or anyone not to be what he or she was if the president so wishes. 

That is exactly what was done to all who held public office. For example the Inspector General of Police was in charge of the police department and had command responsibility to run that institution. But with the creation of the executive president the IGP no long has that power and the politicians decide on the appointments, promotions, dismissals and disciplinary control of those who belong to the police force. Similarly, the Attorney General used to be the commander-in-chief of his department and was responsible for everything that went on in that department. But the AG's post is now under the control of the president's office and he must do what he is instructed to do. Giving independent legal opinions on the illegality or otherwise of the actions of the government is no longer his prerogative. This is also the case of all public institutions and that was all the debate about the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was. That debate was settled by the 18th Amendment, which virtually nullified the operation of the 17th Amendment. Now, automobiles are rickshaws, if one is to use that metaphor, and all these persons who held those officers now merely carry out the direct orders of the president. 

There was one institution which was not completely under the president's control and that was the judiciary. Of course there were all kinds of weakenings as compared to the position the judiciary held before the 1972 and 1978 Constitutions. The 1972 Constitution removed the power of judicial review and the 1978 Constitution placed the president above the law. Besides that there were many ways by which the appointments to the judiciary were made which interfered with the rules universally recognised as being essential for the independence of the judiciary. 

Despite of such limitations the judiciary still had limited power to declare a proposed bill to be in conformity with the Constitution or not. Quite reasonably the judiciary used this power and declared the Divinegama Bill to be unconstitutional in its present form. 

Now this has angered the president and the government and the debate is now as to whether the judiciary should have such power. Using the argument that the legislature can do whatever it likes, the argument is mooted that this power of limited review of a bill should also be removed. While all kinds of gimmicks are tried to present that view as a profoundly correct perspective on constitutional law, there are writers who always write whatever the government wants, like, for example, the quite notorious C.A. Chandraprema of the Divayina, who has concocted arguments to state that there is nosuch review power for the judges in India and also of the Supreme Court of the United States itself. He claims that from Jefferson to Clinton, all the presidents of the United States have stuck the Supreme Court's head on a pole and suppressed it. The title he gives to the article is that India should be followed as a precedent on the issue of the Supreme Court. 

Writing in Sinhala C.A. Chandraprema seems to believe he can utter whatever falsehood he likes about India and the United States on the issue of the independence of the judiciary and their power of judicial review. What he perhaps does not know is that the power of judicial review in its pristine purity exists in both countries and is a very proud part of the legacy of constitutionalism in these countries, as well as in every other country which believes in the supremacy of the law. Some jurisdictions, such as France and Germany, have even created above the Supreme Court even higher courts such as the Constitutional Court of Germany and the Constitution Council of France to deal with the issue of the judicial power over the interpretation of the law. 

As for India, the matter was quite clearly settled when Indira Ghandi, who like J.R. Jayewardene and Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan wanted to be her country's dictator, was clearly suppressed by the Indian Supreme Court. In the Keshavananda Barati case (Kesavanda Bharati vs State of Kerala And Anr on 24 April, 1973), the Supreme Court said further that the parliament under the constitution is not supreme, in that it cannot change the basic structure of the constitution. It also declared that, in certain circumstances, the amendment of fundamental rights would affect the basic structure and therefore would be void. It also overruled Golaknath and thus all the previous amendments which were held valid are now open to be reviewed. They can also be sustained on the ground that they do not affect the basic structure of the constitution or on the fact that they are reasonable restrictions on the fundamental rights in public interest. Both the cases, if seen closely, bear the same practical effects. What Golaknath said was that the Parliament cannot amend so as to take away the fundamental rights enshrined in Part III, whereas inKeshavananda, it was held that it cannot amend so as to affect the basic structure.

To quote from the judgment, 
"316. The learned Attorney General said that every provision of the Constitution is essential; otherwise it would not have been put in the Constitution. This is true. But this does not place every provision of the Constitution in the same position. The true position is that every provision of the Constitution can be amended provided in the result the basic foundation and structure of the Constitution remains the same. The basic structure may be said to consist of the following features:

(1)    Supremacy of the Constitution;
(2)    Republican and Democratic form of government.
(3)    Secular character of the Constitution;
(4)    Separation of powers between the Legislature, the executive and the judiciary;
(5)    Federal character of the Constitution.

317. The above structure is built on the basic foundation, i.e., the dignity and freedom of the individual. This is of supreme importance. This cannot by any form of amendment be destroyed."

The source of confusion
The 1948 Constitution, which is also known as the Soulbury Constitution, had a basic structure. That basic structure was the same basic structure as of any democracy. The essential elements of a democracy, including the supremacy of law, the rule of law, the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, are part of that basic structure. Any amendment that affects this basic structure vitiates the constitution and therefore will destroy the very possibility of the state remaining a democracy. It was this basic structure that was changed by the 1972 and 1978 Constitutions. Unfortunately the Supreme Court then did not follow a course similar to that which the Indian Supreme Court followed in the statement of the doctrine of the basic structure. Had that happened, several parts of the 1972 and 1978 Constitutions would not have been allowed to be passed as law and Sri Lanka would not have been in the mess that it is in today. 

The law cannot remain law if the parliament can do whatever it likes. As all human beings dealing with any kind of expression are bound by the rules of rationality, the parliaments are also bound by the rationality of the basic form of government, if that form of government is that of a democracy. The moment that rationality is abandoned, the entire legal structure is affected by irrationality. It is then that automobiles can be called rickshaws, when the judiciary is required to rubber stamp the decisions of the executive, and when the IGP's, the AG's and all other officers of the state lose all their independence and just become robots playing to the tune of the executive.

The present debate about the independence of the judiciary, the role of the JSC and all related issues, are the result of the failure to abide by a most fundamental notion, that a democracy has a basic structure which, when abandoned, ceases to be a democracy. 

What today's debate reflects is that the form of government envisaged in the 1978 Constitution is that of a dictatorship and not of a democracy. The dictator now demands the judiciary to submit to its will, and this is what the legislature carrying out the will of the dictator is expected to do to the judiciary and is trying to do. 

The way out is a fundamental rejection of the 1978 Constitution and the reinstatement of the doctrine of the basic structure, as India has done. The structure of the government must conform to the basic structure of democracy and, within that framework, the legislature can only do what the basic structure allows it to do. The only path for the future in Sri Lanka is either to submit to a dictatorship or to achieve this fundamental reform to reinstate the basic structure of the Constitution as that of a Constitution of a democracy.

UGC probes shirking dons on COPE directions FUTA chief says uni. administrators should inquire into it


by Dasun Edirisinghe

 The University Grants Commission (UGC) has started investigations into lecture hours and time tables of the university lecturers as requested by the Parliamentary watchdog Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).

UGC Chairman Prof. Gamini Samaranayake told The Island the UGC had already instructed the heads of countrywide universities to provide relevant details.

COPE interim report presented to Parliament last week has noted that there are serious lapses on the part of university administrators. According to details provided by the UGC on the number of lecture hours conducted by each lecturer in the year 2010, there were 117 lecturers whose number of lecture hours conducted for the entire year had been less fewer than ten. The watchdog committee has strongly criticised the relevant authorities for turning a blind eye to such grave shortcomings.

Prof. Samaranayake said that the UGC had submitted the details given by respective universities according to the time tables of lecturers.

"We have been asked to conduct a further investigation on the issue by the COPE," he said, adding it would be a deep study.

The COPE report had said that the committee was of the view that the university education in Sri Lanka requires some drastic changes for its qualitative development. The curricula have not been changed for years in step with the changes taking place in the relevant fields over the past few decades.

When contacted by The Island for comments, President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA), the main trade union of university teachers, Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri said lecture hours varied from junior lecturers to professors.

He said that according to university rules, normally a lecturer would have to complete nine hours of lectures per week.

"Our records are submitted to the Vice Chancellor via heads of department annually," Dr. Devasiri said, adding if a lecturer did not complete required number of hours the university administrators should inquire into it.

Accepting the claim that some lecturers had not completed the required lecture hours, the FUTA chief said, action should be taken against them according to university regulations.

Australia to open door for educated Lankans

Daily Mirror, 30/10/2012

Australia is all set to woo highly skilled population from the region including in Sri Lanka in a bid to create an educated, productive work force to boost its economy, the PTI reported.

According to minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen, the government in its 'Asian Century White Paper' released yesterday, has highlighted the opportunities for the nation's growth by building deeper and stronger links with Asian region.

"Even with the government's unprecedented investment in tertiary education and up-skilling Australians, we need migrants who bring their specialist skills to Australia," he said.

Seven of the top 10 source countries in Australia's 2011-12 migration programme are in the Asian region: India, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam.

The Indian sub-continent is Australia's largest source region of migrants, providing 23 per cent of the migration program, while 18.3 per cent of migrants come from the north of Asia.

"More than a quarter of our nation's migrants were born in an Asian nation and nearly 1.5 million Australians are fluent in one or more Asian languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Punjabi, Indonesian, Korean, Tagalog and Japanese," Bowen said.

"This means that Australia is uniquely placed to strengthen ties with Asian nations." So the country is "increasingly looking to Asia for skilled migrants who are crucial to the nation's economy and the development of business opportunities in the region", he said. (PTI)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Higher Education: Increased Fund Allocations Call For Policy Reforms

By Dinidu de Alwis, and Chrishanthi Christopher
The Appropriations Bill for the year 2013 was presented to parliament by Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. During the coming weeks, The Sunday Leader will take a detailed look at spending patterns on key subject areas, and attempt to set them in a historical context. This week, we focus on state-spending on tertiary education.
States pending and its trends
One of the many protests held requesting to increase the allocation by 6% GDP
State spending on education was a hot topic this year, which managed to garner public support due to large-scale union action by university lecturers. Calls were made asking the government to spend a sum equal to 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education, which brought in a bit of scrutiny from the mass public about spending on education, with specific reference to University Education.
The total spending allocated for the year 2013 through the Appropriations Bill stands at nearly Rs. 28 billion, split Rs. 18 billion as recurrent expenditure and nearly Rs. 10 billion as capital investment.
Out of this expenditure, the Ministry of Higher Education is expected to get Rs. 3.4 billion: more than Rs. 2.5 billion as capital expenditure and the rest for recurrent expenditure. The University Grants Commission, which is the governing body for Sri Lanka’s universities, will get a total budget of around Rs. 24.5 for its expenses: Rs. 17.1 billion for recurrent expenditure and Rs. 7.4 billion for capital expenditure.
In addition, an unspecified amount will also be spent through various other programmes – namely the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development – for vocational training and higher education purposes. Funds are also spent through various government bodies, including semi-governmental organisations such as research institutions, for studies both locally and abroad, including for PhDs for staff researchers. A total of 22,016 students were selected to universities in 2010, up from 21,547 in 2009 and more than double from 10 years prior.
“The developments proposed to the existing universities to improve them as university townships over the next 3 years and the ongoing quality improvements and incentives offered at universities to engage in research with the private sector, are also expected to shift the standards of Sri Lankan universities. Reforming skills education to a level that will award courses in engineering, tourism, ports and logistic services, IT and software, food processing and construction related subjects is also vital, to be able to meet the demand of an emerging economy, and also for the benefit of those proposing to venture on overseas employment, that is a main source of foreign exchange earnings,” the government said in a report released earlier this year, setting out the plan for education.
For the academic year 2010/2011, a total of 142,516 students met the minimum requirements for university entrance, out of a total 233,609 who faced the GCE Advanced Level exam. Out of this, 54,124 applied for university and 22,016 were given placements.
Policy shift needed
Nisha Arunathilake, an economist with think tank Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) says that at an initial stage of development in a country there are always arguments for giving priority for general level education, but adds that simply more money on the sector without reforms “would not work.”
“At present we have fairly good access to education at the primary and lower secondary levels of education. At that level the challenge for the education sector is one of improving quality.  Improving quality also call for more funds. But, more funds alone will not work.  We need to make sure that those funds are properly channelled for improving the education process and improving education outcomes.”
She says in order to prepare a workforce that is ready to face the challenges of the modern work place, education at the general level (although essential) alone is not sufficient.
“Workers need to have the advanced competencies for them to be able to learn new things and communicate effectively. Such skilled workers are needed in sufficient numbers to drive productivity in the workplace.”
Arunathilake says that Sri Lanka’s education system (both the tertiary and vocational training sectors) does not produce sufficient numbers of skilled graduates. The system needs to increase both capacity and quality to meet the challenge of producing enough such workers.  “Both actions call for more funds.  Again more funds alone are not the answer. Available funds should be used to produce the skilled graduates that are in demand in the market.”
“I would say all education sectors (general, tertiary and vocational) need more funds, and better means of administering those funds to ensure that all receive a quality education at the general level, and sufficient numbers receive a quality education in vocational training or tertiary education according to their choice.”
At present the government is spending about Rs. 20,000 per student in general education, about Rs. 32,000 a student in vocational training, and about Rs. 250,000 a student in tertiary education (according to rough calculations based on Ministry of Finance and Planning data for 2010).
“I think perhaps, first attention should be paid to improving outcomes from the amounts spent thus far. Just increasing funds, without improving their administration and management might not result in the desired results,” she says.
Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, the controversial head of the Federation of University Teachers Associations, doesn’t have a direction that he specifically wants the government spending to go to.
They were pushing for the government to spend 6% of the GDP for education, but throughout their struggle remained mum about how the spending should be broken down.
The current direction
Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne, the Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education, says that the plan for the future including bringing Sri Lankan universities into the list of the best 1,000 universities in the world.
“We want to make use of the budget allocation to improve the quality of graduates that pass out of universities and produce world class universities in the island,” he says, adding “We have selected seven universities - Colombo, Moratuwa, Peradeniya, Ruhunu, Jayawardenapura, Kelaniya and Jaffna – and have allocated Rs.100 million each to bring them within the first 1000 universities in the world ranking.
At present Colombo university is in the 1640 place and Moratuwa at 2100. “The skills of graduates are not up to standard and our end product is not marketable,” he admits. “We are aiming to improve their skills for employability and make them 100 per cent employable on a global level.”
At present the percentage of graduates’ employability is in the average of 60 per cent.  Moratuwa University has the most employability rate of 97 per cent followed by Colombo at 62 per cent and Ruhunu at 60 per cent, and Peradeniya at 53 per cent. Among the faculties Engineering got 94 per cent employability, Medicine at 90 per cent, science at 70 per cent and Management at 60 per cent. The figure drops to 23 per cent for the arts streams.
“Today’s graduates take down notes during lecturers and reproduce them in exams. But the market is asking for a different product. Arts skills graduates need to have skills that can market them.  We need quality assurance to improve their marketability. We are concentrating on ten areas where they need to be improvement such as communication, team work, integrity, intellectual ability, confidence, character and presentation, planning and organization, writing skills numeracy and analysis and decision making,” Nawarathne says.
For the government, through various policy documents that have been issued during its regime, English language skills and Information and Communication Technology skills are the main priorities for the future.
“We are also planning to encourage enterprising graduates who while studying will be running companies and business.  They will be the job givers. They will be given assistance and help. Hope to produce 1,500 entrepreneur graduates a year,” he says. The entrepreneurships of many were questioned recently at a forum on youth employment, where investment bankers were grudging about the lack of risk-taking enthusiasm of the state-university products. Nawarathne admits that more allocations for research are needed.
“Encouragement to do more research on social and burning issues such as floods, earthquakes and others for the economic development of the country,” he says, is another aspect the government is focusing on. Lack of funding for research was a major complain from university teachers during their union action a month back.
Nawarathne takes a more market-oriented approach towards education. “We hope to increase the intake of foreign students and our target is to increase the numbers to 10,000 students by 2015. At present the number stands at 1200,” he says.
“We have also invited the private sector to participate in our programmes. With the budget allocation, private sector participation and aid from donor agencies we can achieve our target,” he adds.
The Nay-Sayers
Sanjeewa Bandara, the convener of the Inter-University Student Federation, says that the present allocation will not be enough even to address the basic problems in the universities.
“It was because of the low allocations that we struck for a 6 per cent increase,” he says. Bandara’s IUSF, which is backed by the Marxist-leaning JanathaVimukthi Peramuna, was a strong supporter of the FUTA union struggle as well as an advocate for increase in education spending.
“We need buildings, lecture rooms, labs, computers and quarters for students. Due to lack of lecture halls we have our lectures in auditoriums that have only chairs and no facility to write down notes.  The Rajarata and Ruhunu universities have no lectures halls,” he complains.
Non-availability of computers is also said to be a key problem. “The Rajarata University that has around 2,500 students has only 60 computers. The Peradeniya University Dental faculty has only six computers.”
Complaints are also heavy on the lack of accommodation for students: “Earlier all students residing beyond the radius of 40km from home were given accommodation, but now students residing even 100-150 km cannot find accommodation in hostels.  Finding boarding places outside has become very expensive,” he says.
Many of the poor students are doing private jobs to meet their living expenses. As a result they have no time for their studies. Some even leave university because they cannot meet their living expenses. Bandara’s predecessor, Udul Premarathna, also shares the same concerns but says more needs to be done to change policy.
“We demand equal rights for all students, and for that we need enough funds allocated for education. There is no equality in the living standards of people. Poor people find equality only in the education system. But now due to minimum allocation this system is also discriminating the poor.  Poor parents have hope because of the education system. They educate their children and try to raise their living standards through them.  But now they are in a dilemma,” he says.
More money, more problems
The call for higher education spending generally come hand-in-hand with the calls for policy shifts in terms of how education in the island is viewed. The current government – which rode into power on social-welfare and pro-socialist policies, have taken a capitalist step of opening up the private education sector, and allowed private universities to start up in the island. It however, has not been without a price.
The voter base has created massive opposition for the move, which has found added momentum from the student populations of all state-funded universities and many academics. Political parties with a nationalist or leftist base – the Jathika Hela Urumaya and the JVP – have also opposed the move of letting in private universities, despite private institutions, which have affiliated degrees functioning in the country for decades.
The higher education policies of the island have to be complemented by either greater industry or through promoting entrepreneurship, to create jobs for graduates who leave university. If not the result would be further government expenditure that adds a tax burden to the income generating population, as successive governments, including the current one, are forced to hire thousands of graduates to the state-sector to fill position which are specifically created for the purpose of reducing the nation’s unemployment figures.
More money does not, as economists have said, equal better quality. More money with the current education policies would simply lead to more graduates being created, who are not necessarily of a higher quality. The burden, again, would fall onto the taxpayer.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The General support!

DailyFT, 18/10/2012

  Published : 12:00 am  October 18, 2012  |  43 views  |  No comments so far  |  Print This Post   |  E-mail to friend 
While we may be gazing at scoreboards and enjoying 20 times the normal value on usual interactions on a plot of grass, there is a need to understand the importance on investing on your future and what we may be really missing out in the present.
The merriment can get quite addictive and destructive too, if you commit suicide if the results of a game are against your wishes. The last you remember in such circumstances is investing meaningfully in your future. One investment that will stand out against all may be investment on higher education. To derive the usual expected return, perseverance is important and when the returns on education are seen, you may well see them as million fold.
Nelson Mandela was emphatic on the value of education to transform a lagging society. Leaders of all types have constantly stated their singular commitment. The importance is how well you convert your statements into action. That is the difference between rhetoric and results.
The recent presentation by Atta-ur-Rahman at the auditorium of Sri Lanka Society for Advancement of Science on the invitation of both the National Academy of Sciences Sri Lanka and SLAAS was quite illuminating. It was no secret that the audience was quite receptive and the presence of eminent personnel such as Prof. Epasinghe, who is an Advisor to the President as well as being the Chancellor of University of Peradeniya, was quite welcome.
His subjects at Peradeniya may have been marching down the Galle Road at that very moment asking for a salary increase plus a wider demand for 6% GDP on education may have been constantly at the back of his mind. The presentation within that context could not have been more relevant. The contents of the speech were rich case study material with direct applicability.

Pakistan’s vision for education
The crux of his seminar was that Atta-ur-Rahman as the Minister of Education wanted to make a difference with the vision coming from his thinking that the future of Pakistan, if it is to come out of poverty, has to be through education. He quoted Tony Blair whose reply to a question on investment by state – education, education and education!
Atta Rahman was frank and forthright and he had results to show and for those who always want to know ‘show me results prior to commitments,’ they were there in abundance. He said if one wants a change of this magnitude, it has to be backed to the hilt by the top.
That is exactly what President General Pervez Musharraf has done and throughout his presentation the General was mentioned quite a few times. It was clear that the leader had confidence in his advisor and without reservation.
It appeared that it was a case of empathy too and not a case of sympathy – the General’s support had been a key factor. That strong understanding during his nine-year rule had led to strengthening the foundation for Pakistani’s knowledge economy.
Stranger than fiction
His opening remarks were that the truth in time to come is going to be stranger than fiction. The world is going to be much more different thanks to science, technology and innovation of course delivered by creative individuals and teams.
If the teams are not from your economy, such developments will suck your resources from your economies and you do not need huge amount of gray cells to figure out who will come out better in the process. A simple way to look at is how much will flow out to bring in a Hummer or a Lamborghini to Galle Road and how you expect to generate that capital requirement both in capex and opex terms. If innovation is from within, the suction effect is yours.
He had a few interesting examples – meta materials based clothing that will make you invisible, bullet proof paper, cars that will run on old newspapers, cars that will run on air and will be driven by thought, anti-ageing compounds, stem cell revolution, blind seeing with their tongues, etc.
He emphasised that these examples are today available in university labs awaiting development up to commercial level. Returns on such developments are simply unimaginable and you are going oil free, driver free, with zero visibility!
I am not sure what business or accountancy course is addressing such calculations. As such development in time to come has to be through fostering creativity and not through monthly meetings and minute verifications. Budgeting and planning from past experiences will not do you or anybody else much good.
Yes, truth indeed is stranger than fiction and living in a country that Arthur C. Clarke so admired, we should doing things differently. It is a pity the individual is going to be a mere passenger in the current time capsule. If the intent is to breathe, eat three meals and live with 20 times the happiness, it is a different story which nobody would be interested in and you can buy yourself a second-hand copy of Alice in Wonderland lie on a sofa in front of the idiot box and go to sleep.

Big dreams
The critics would be there, he said. However, you have to persist. If the intentions are clear and the gains are for the nation, nothing should stop you. Some steps actually are quite unimaginable – 6,000% increase in the development budget of the Science Ministry, 2,400% increase in the development budget of higher education, salary increase to professors at five times that of a federal minister with a 75% tax waiver, world’s largest Fulbright scholarship program with 50% of the budget coming from the Pakistani side, US$ 100,000 research grant with assured job position to a returning scholar, etc.
Checks and challenges also were introduced – performance-based pay, tenure track system and performance assessments at an international level with strong peer assessments. The elements of what Pakistan did had led to the Royal Society of UK stating that if you need a good practical example of a way to transform a nation, look at what Pakistan did.
Nature wrote on Pakistan on four occasions and finally wrote requesting to keep treading the same path once the General left and the civilians came back to power. It was a request to sustain best practices, avoiding issue of ego. That had been the difference between perhaps the East and the West in modern times; while developed nations continue to improve on best practices and sustain them, the East took a path of improving on bad practices and sustenance of such trends.

Important elements
Other elements of Pakistani plans were equally important to know. Free nationwide accessible digital library, an educational satellite, development of the national PhD program, ambitious university building program, optical fibre networks and connectivity, mirroring open access programs such as from MIT within Pakistan, etc., were some additional steps taken to strengthen the knowledge economy elements.
Now note that the Pakistani literacy rate is around 50% and Sri Lanka can boast of the best figures for a developing country and even rival some developed economies. If we fail to transform that literacy to advanced human capital, do not blame any international pressure or process; the blame will be on us.
We must understand the elements that form the backbone of a knowledge economy and go all out in ensuring that the process stays on. I am not sure that there are multiple prescriptions to this goal.
The human element too needs to be understood. The transformations in Pakistan were neither rigid nor autocratic. People were given the freedom to opt in or stay within one’s comfort zones. Hence salary increase can be really tied to performance and the mediocre and those below can be weeded out through time. However, there was the insistence to change over to the new system for those who were entering the system afresh.

Thank you, Prof. Rahman, for an illuminating lecture. You were talking about science, technology and innovation, but the sub title of your presentation was these as imperatives for socioeconomic development, which is the mantra in political and economic circles.
Innovation is a key differentiator and the one most important today in shaping the society and an economy. However to keep innovating you need advanced human capital. And that is why investing in higher education is useful – the basis for all that Pakistan did.
Today’s economic currency is not how literate the population is, but the presence of advanced human capital – the real talent pool. Leaders with vision will harness resources and then will do everything to sustain excitement. As organisations grow, the surroundings will change and the result is seen not because there are walking encyclopaedias but feeling the vibrant socioeconomic conditions.
Pity the system that does not understand this important connectivity. It is time to change from laughable budgets to laudable budgets if budgeting is still the way forward!
(The writer is Professor of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. With an initial BSc Chemical engineering Honours degree from Moratuwa, he proceeded to the University of Cambridge for his PhD. He is also the Director of UOM-Cargills Food Process Development Incubator at University of Moratuwa. He can be reached via email on ajith@cheng.mrt.ac.lk)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

FUTA in support of the demands of Teachers and Principals

Who Will Lead The Performance Evaluation Of Faculty In Our Universities?

ගුරුවරු විදුහල්පතිවරු ඉසුරුපාය ළඟ උද්ඝෝෂණයේ

2012 ඔක්තෝබර් මස 24 15:58:38 | රොමේෂ් ධනුෂ්ක සිල්වා
ගුරුවරුන්ගේ සහ විදුහල්පතිවරුන්ගේ වැටුප් විෂමතාවය ඇතුළු අධ්‍යාපන ක්ෂේත‍්‍රයේ පවතින ගැටළු හයකට කඩිනම් විසඳුම් ලබා දෙන ලෙස ඉල්ලා ගුරු විදුහල්පති වෘත්තීය සමිති ඒකාබද්ධ කමිටු සාමාජිකයෝ රාජගිරිය ආයුර්වේද වටරවුමේ ආචාර්ය එන්.එම්. පෙරේරා පිළිරුව අසල සිට බත්තරමුල්ලේ අධ්‍යාපන අමාත්‍යංශය පිහිටි ඉසුරුපාය දක්වා ගමන් කළහ.
අමාත්‍යංශයට ඇතුළු වීමට ඔවුන් උත්සාහ දැරුවත් කැරලි මර්ධන ඒකකය ඇතුළු පොලිිසිය එය නැවැත්වීය. පසුව ඉසුරුපාය ඉදිරිපිට දෙපැයක පමණ කාලයක උද්ඝෝෂණයක් පවත්වා විසිර ගියහ.
අධ්‍යාපන ඇමැති තමන්ගේ ඉල්ලීම් වලට ඇහුම්කන් නොදෙන නිසා වෙනත් අමාත්‍යවරයකු යටතේ හෝ වහාම සාකච්ඡුාවක් ලබාදෙන ලෙසත් ඔවුහු ඉල්ලූහ. එසේ නොවුනහොත් දැඩි වෘත්තීය ක‍්‍රියා මාර්ගයකට යාමට අදහස් කරන බවත් ඔවුහු කීහ.
 අදහස්(26)  බැලූවෝ (1826)

Friday, October 19, 2012

ජාතික චින්තනවාදීන් සහ ‘දේශ හිතෛෂීන්‘ නව ලිබරල්වාදය වැළඳ ගැනීම

Kathika, 19/10/2012, කුමුදු කුසුම් කුමාර
විශ්ව විද්‍යාල ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනයේ වැඩ වර්ජනය දින සියය සපුරද්දී නිමාවට පත් වීය. තම ඉල්ලීම් පිළිබඳ රජයෙන් ලැබුණු ප්‍රතිචාරය පිළිබඳ සෑහීමකට පත් නොවන බව ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනය කියා සිටියාය. මෙම ප්‍රශ්නය විශ්ව විද්‍යාල ආචාර්යවරුනට හෝ රජයට ජයක් හෝ පරාජයක් නොමැතිව රටටත් ජනතාවටත් ජයග්‍රහණය හිමිවන ආකාරයට විසඳීමට තමන් සමත් වූ බව එහිලා මැදිහත්කරු ලෙසින් ක්‍රියාකළ ඇමති බැසිල් රාජපක්ෂ පසුව ප්‍රකාශ කොට තිබුණි. එයින් කියැවෙන්නේ ආරම්භයේදී ජනාධිපති මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ පිරිනැමූ ‘දෙගොල්ලම-දිනුම් විසඳුම‘ මෙය බවද?
තම අමාත්‍ය ජනාධිපති මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ ගේ අනුමතිය සහිතව ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනය සමග සාකච්ඡාවට බට මුදල් අමාත්‍යංශ ලේකම් ආචාර්ය පී. බී. ජයසුන්දර විශ්ව විද්‍යාල ආචාර්යවරුන් විශේෂිත කණ්ඩායමක් ලෙස රජය කල් තබා සැළකූ හෙයින් ඔවුන් විශේෂිත වැටුප් තලයක පිහිටුවන දිගු කාලීන විසඳුමක් ඉදිරිපත් කිරීම තමන් රජයට යෝජනා කරන බව මුලින් කියා සිටියේය. නමුත් ඒ වෙනුවට ඔහු පසුව නිශ්චිත නොවන මධ්‍යවාර වැටුප් යෝජනා ඉදිරිපත් කළේ තම අමාත්‍ය ජනාධිපති මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ ඒ පිළිබඳ ඔහුගේ මුල් අදහස් වෙනස් කරගත් නිසාද? අය වැයෙන් මෙහා කිසිදු වැටුප් වැඩි කිරීමක් නොකිරීම රජයේ ප්‍රතිපත්තිය බව රජය මුල සිටම කියා තිබුණි. නමුත් ඇමති බැසිල් රාජපක්ෂ ගේ මැදිහත් වීමෙන් සිදුවූ සාකච්ඡාවලදී රජය වැටුප් වැඩි කිරීම පිළිබඳ කිසියම් නම්‍යශීලී බවක් ගැනීමේ ඉඩකඩ පෙනෙන්නට තිබුණි. ඒ, වැටුප් හැරුණු කොට ප්‍රතිපත්තිමය කරුණු මුල් කරගත් අනෙක් ඉල්ලීම් සඳහා රජය ඉදිරිපත් කළ කැබිනට් සටහනක් මත දෙපාර්ශ්වය එකඟතාවකට පත්ව සිටි තත්වයක් යටතේය.
මේ තත්වය වෙනස් වන්නට පටන් ගත්තේ අමාත්‍ය බැසිල් රාජපක්ෂ මෙම ප්‍රශ්නයට මැදිහත්කරුවෙකු ලෙසින් ක්‍රියා කිරීමට රජය ඇතුළතින්ම එල්ල වූ විරෝධය උග්‍රවීමත් සමගය. ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනය ගාල්ලේ සිට කොළඹට ආ පා ගමනට විපක්ෂයේ දේශපාලන නායකයන් එකතු වීම මෙම විරෝධය කුළු ගැන් වූ කොටස් වලට පිටුවහලක් වූ බව පෙණුනි. ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනය ප්‍රතිපත්තිමය කරුණු මුල් කරගත් ඉල්ලීම් මත මෙවර වැඩ වර්ජනයට එළඹ සිටීමත් හුදු ජනාධිපති කොමිසමක් පිළිබඳ පොරොන්දුව මත ඔවුන් තම වර්ජනය අත් නොහැරීමත් මත ‘රෙජීමය වෙනස් කිරීමේ‘ අරාබි වසන්තය බඳු විප්ලවයක් ගෙන ඒමේ පෙරමුණක් ලෙස මෙම වර්ජනය ක්‍රියාත්මක කරන්නේ යැයි රජය අර්ථ නිරූපණය කළේ බුද්ධි වාර්තා මත එවැන්නක් තමන් තරයේ විශ්වාස කරන බව පෙන්වමිනි. එනිසා අධ්‍යාපනය සඳහා රජය දළ ජාතික නිශ්පාදිතයෙන් සියයට හයක් වැය කළ යුතුය යන යෝජනාව මත ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනය වැඩවර්ජනය දිග් ගස්සන්නේ නම් එය ‘රෙජීමය වෙනස් කිරීමේ‘ අරමුණින් කරන්නක් යැයි පිළිගෙන එයට එරෙහිව තම සමස්ත බලය යෙදීමට රජය තීරණය කළ බවක් එක් අවස්ථාවක දී පෙන්නුම් කෙරිණි.
මෙම අවස්ථාවේදී ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනය පරාජය කිරීම සඳහා රජයේ පාර්ශ්වයෙන් හැකි සියලු බලවේග සටනට කැඳවනු ලැබිණි. මෙම වැඩ වර්ජනය ආරම්භයේදී ඊට එරෙහිව එක් පුවත් පත් ලිපියක් පමණක් ලියා තම සුපුරුදු වෙනත් මාතෘකා කරා ගොස් සිටි ජාතික චින්තනවාදී ආචාර්ය නලින් ද සිල්වා යලිත් සටනට පිවිසියේ ඒ අනුවය. ‘දේශි හිතෛෂී‘ අමාත්‍ය විමල් වීරසිංහ ද මෙවර සටනට පිවිසියේ ය. ඔවුන් දෙදෙනාගේ අනුගාමික පිරිස් ද, මාඕ වාදීන්ව සිටි දේශපාලනඥයන්ද ඔවුන් හා එක්ව සටනට පිවිසියහ. ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනයේ කිසිම ඉල්ලීමක් නොදිය යුතු යැයි එම ඉල්ලීම්වල සාධාරණ භාවයට අභියෝග කරමින් විවිධ තර්ක ඉදිරිපත්කළ ආචාර්ය නලින් ද සිල්වා ආචාර්යවරුන්ගේ වර්ජනය පෙන්නුම් කළේ දෙමළ බෙදුම්වාදී – ‘ඇන්ජීඕ‘ සහ ‘ඩයස්පෝරා‘ – බටහිර කුමන්ත්‍රණ ව්‍යාපාරයේත් බෞද්ධ විරෝධී කතෝලික ව්‍යාපාරයකත් අතකොලුවක් ව ‘රෙජීමය වෙනස් කිරීමේ‘ කටයුත්ත අරමුණු කොට ගත් එකක් ලෙසිනි. අධ්‍යාපනය පිළිබඳ ආචාර්යවරුන්ගේ ඉල්ලීම් යහපත් යැයි කියන අතර ඒ පිටුපස ‘රෙජීමය වෙනස් කිරීමේ‘ කුමන්ත්‍රණයක් ඇතැයි කී විමල් වීරවංස සහ කණ්ඩායම ද මෙම වර්ජනය පරාජය කළ යුතු යැයි කියා සිටියාය. වර්ජනය අවසන් වූ පසු මෙම චෝදනාව පිළිබඳ The Island පුවත් පතේ කර්තෘ ප්‍රභාත් සහබන්දු පළකළ පහත අදහස නලින් ද සිල්වා සහ විමල් වීරවංස කණ්ඩායම් වලටද අදාළ ය. “විශ්ව විද්‍යාල ආචාර්යවරුන්ගේ සැබෑ අභිප්‍රාය රජය කී පරිදි රෙජීමය වෙනස් කිරීමක් විණි නම් ඔවුන් කවරදාකවත් සාකච්ඡා මඟින් එකඟතාවකට එනු ඇතිව තිබිණි ද? එසේ කීම ඇමති නැවැත්විය යුතුය. රජය විශ්ව විද්‍යාල ගුරුවරුන්ගෙන් සමාව අයැද සිටිය යුතුය.“
ආචාර්යවරුන්ගේ ඉල්ලීම් අසාධාරණ යැයි අයුතු සහගත යැයි ආචාර ධර්මීය නොවේ යැයි කියමින් තම අරමුණ සාක්ෂාත් කර ගැනීම සඳහා ව්‍යාජ තර්ක ඉදිරිපත් කිරීම නලින් ද සිල්වා සහ විමල් වීරවංස කණ්ඩායම් අනු දත් උපක්‍රමය වීය. උදාහරණයක් දක්වතොත් ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනයේ මූලික ප්‍රතිපත්ති ඉල්ලීම වූ අධ්‍යාපනය සඳහා දළ ජාතික නිෂ්පාදිතයෙන් සියයට හයක් රජයේ වියදම් වශයෙන් වැය කළ යුතුය යන යුනෙස්කෝ දර්ශකයට රජයේ වියදම් පමණක් අයිති නොවේයැයි රජය මුල සිටම ගෙන ගිය ව්‍යාජ තර්කය මත පිහිටා ආචාර්ය නලින් ද සිල්වා ද තෝරා ගත් උද්ධෘතයක් ගෙන හැර පාමින් එම ඉල්ලීම නිශේධ කරන්නට දැරූ උත්සාහය තම දේශපාලන අරමුණ වෙනුවෙන් ඕනෑම කැපකිරීමක් කරන්නට ඔහු සූදානම් බව පෙන්නුම් කළේය. නොඑසේ නම් ඔහු උපුටා දැක්වීම් කළ අදාල වාර්තාවේ අධ්‍යාපනය සඳහා කෙරෙන රජයේ වියදම් සියයට 6 ක්වත් විය යුතුය යන නිර්දේශය ඇතුළත් පහත සඳහන් උද්ධෘතය ඔහුට මඟ හැරුණේ කෙසේද? “Increasing public spending on education, in place of expenditure under budget heads, should be regarded as a necessity everywhere, and especially in developing countries, since it is a vital investment for the future. As a rule of thumb, not less than 6 percent of the GNP should be devoted to education ………..“ Learning The Treasure Within Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century, Jacques Delors (p. 165) මෙහි ‘public spending‘ යනුවෙන් හැඳින්වෙන්නේ රජයේ වියදම් මිස මහජනයා පෞද්ගලිකව කරන වියදම් හෝ පෞද්ගලික අංශයේ වියදම් නොවේ.
ජාතික චින්තනවාදී නලින් ද සිල්වා සහ දේශහිතෛෂී විමල් වීරවංස සහ ඔවුන්ගේ අනුගාමිකයන් ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනයට එරෙහිව ගෙනගිය මෙම ව්‍යාපාරයේ වඩාත්ම උත්ප්‍රාසජනක අංගය වන්නේ ඔවුන් ගෙනහැර පෑ එබඳු ව්‍යාජ තර්ක නොව ආචාර්යවරුන්ට එරෙහිව මෙම සටනේදී ඔවුන් ගත්තේ නව ලිබරල්වාදයේ පැත්ත වීමයි. අධ්‍යාපනය වෙනුවෙන් කෙරෙන රජයේ වියදම් කපා හැරීම, රාජ්‍ය අධ්‍යාපනය පෞද්ගලීකරණය කිරීම සහ අධ්‍යාපනය වෙළෙඳ භාණ්ඩයක් බවට පහත හෙළීමේ වත්මන් රජයේ වැඩ පිළිවෙළ ජාත්‍යන්තර මූල්‍ය අරමුදලේ නිර්දේශ යටතේ සහ ලෝක බැංකුවේ ණය ආධාර යටතේ ගෝලීය ධනවාදයේ නව ලිබරල්වාදී ආර්ථික ප්‍රතිපත්ති අධ්‍යාපන ක්ෂේත්‍රයට ආදේශ කිරීමේ ප්‍රථිපලයකි. ජනාධිපති මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂගේ රජය වෙනුවෙන් නව ලිබරල්වාදී ආර්ථික ප්‍රතිපත්ති ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීමේ වගකීම තමනට පවරා ගෙන ඇත්තේ මුදල් අමාත්‍යංශ සහ මහා භාණ්ඩාගාර ලේකම් ආචාර්ය පී. බී. ජයසුන්දර ය. උසස් අධ්‍යාපනයේ නව ලිබරල්වාදී ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණ ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීමේ වගකීම ඇමති එස්. බී. දිසානායක භාර ගෙන ඇත. ඉතින් ලංකාව අධිරාජ්‍යවාදයේ ග්‍රහණයෙන් මුදවාලීමට ශපථ කළ ජාතික චින්තනවාදීන් සහ ලෝක බැංකුවේ ‘ප්ලග්‘ ගළවන බවට ශපථ කළ ‘දේශ හිතෛෂීන්‘ අධ්‍යාපන ක්ෂේත්‍රයේ නව ලිබරල්වාදය ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීමට එරෙහිව රාජ්‍ය අධ්‍යාපනය රැක ගැනීම සඳහා ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනය ඉදිරිපත් කළ ඉල්ලීම් පරාජය කිරීමට පෙරමුණ ගැනීම ඉතිහාසයේ සරදමක් නොවේද? මෙම සටනේදී නව ලිබරල්වාදී අමාත්‍ය එස්. බී. දිසානායකගේ සහායට ලංකාවේ ලිබරල් පක්ෂයේ නායකයා වන රජීව විජේසිංහත් නලින් ද සිල්වා සහ විමල් වීරසිංහ සමග එක් වීම තනන්නේ අපූර්ව මිත්‍ර පෙරමුණ ක් නොවේද?
නව ලිබරල්වාදී ධනේශ්වර මාවත ගන්නා රජයකට “කඩේ යෑම“ පිළිබඳ එල්ල වන විවේචන ගැන නලින් ද සිල්වා කියන්නේ තමා සේවය කරන්නේ රජයට නොව ජනතාවට බවයි. එමෙන්ම මෙම අධ්‍යාපන ක්‍රමය බටහිර ගැති බවත් එය සහමුලින්ම විනාශ කළ යුතු බවත් නලින් ද සිල්වා ගේ මතය යි. ජනතාව ගේ යහපත වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටීම යනු යුද්ධය අවසන් වී වසර තුනක් ගෙවී ඇති තැන යළි දෙමළ බෙදුම්වාදයක් පැන නැඟීම පිළිබඳ අනියත බියකින් ජනතාව පොළඹවා මහජන සුභ සාධනය කප්පාදු කිරීමේ නව ලිබරල්වාදී විය ගසේ ඔවුන් බැඳ තබන්නට රජයට උදව් වීමද? මෙරට සාමාන්‍ය ජනයාට තම දූ පුතුන්ට ඉහළට උගන්වා තම සමාජීය ජීවිතය යහපත් කරගැනීමට තවමත් ඇති ප්‍රධානම මඟ වන රජයේ අධ්‍යාපනය විනාශ කර දැමීමට කෙරෙන ඊනියා අධ්‍යාපන ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණ හමුවේ ජනයා ජාතිකවාදයෙන් මත් කොට නිහඬ කිරීම ද?
අපගේ වත්මන් අධ්‍යාපන ක්‍රමය අපට බටහිරින් ලැබුණක් බව සැබෑය. නමුත් නිදහසින් පසු ලංකා සමාජය අද පවත්නා තත්වයට ගොඩ නැඟුණේ මෙම අධ්‍යාපනයේ පිහිටෙනි. පවත්නා අධ්‍යාපනක්‍රමයට විකල්පයක් ගොඩ නොනඟා එය සහමුලින් විනාශ කිරීමේ උග්‍ර අන්තවාදී ආස්ථානය යෝජනා කරන නලින් ද සිල්වා ඒ අර්ථයෙන් නූතනවාදියෙකි. වත්මන් රජය නිරතව සිටින්නේ පවත්නා අධ්‍යාපන ක්‍රමය විනාශ කිරීමේ කටයුත්තේ යැයි වටහා ගත් හෙයින් එම විනාශය වැළැක්වීමට කටයුතු කරන ආචාර්ය සමිති සම්මේලනයට එරෙහිව තමා රජය සමග අත් වැල් බැඳ ගත්තේ යැයි නලින් ද සිල්වා කියන්නේ දැයි අපි නොදනිමු. නමුත් වත්මන් රජය පවත්නා අධ්‍යාපන ක්‍රමය විනාශ කරමින් සිටින්නේ ඊට විකල්ප ජාතික අධ්‍යාපන ක්‍රමයක් ඉදිකිරීමේ අරමුණින් නොවේ. හුදෙක් ගෝලීය ධනවාදී වෙළෙඳ පොලේ රැකියා සඳහා ශ්‍රමිකයන් බවට අපගේ තරුණ තරුණියන් පුහුණු කරන අධ්‍යාපන ක්‍රමයක් බිහිකිරීම සඳහා ය. අප කළ යුත්තේ ජාතියට මඟ පෙන්වන නව බුද්ධිමත් පරපුරක් බිහි කිරීම සඳහා පවත්නා රාජ්‍ය අධ්‍යාපනය රැක ගෙන ඒ මත අපට අවශ්‍ය නව ජාතික අධ්‍යාපනයක් ගොඩ නැංවීම යි.