Oct 3, 2012

UPFA MP Rajiva Wijesinha addressing a forum on the future of free education in Sri Lanka said there was a massive crisis in education which was due to a crisis in management and lack of productivity, and added that union demands based on wage hikes and increases in government spending were irrelevant.

The forum panel consisted of Prof. Wijesinha and Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri and was moderated by UNP MP Eran Wickremaratne.

Prof. Wijesinha said there was a dire need for education reforms due to inefficiencies in universities, students’ syllabuses and a rising trend in tuition lessons which he said was harmful to education. “I think this crisis in education is horrendous. I don’t think salaries or 6% of GDP is important. It is a crisis of management and productivity,” he said.

Prof. Wijesinha said the Higher Education Minister had attempted education reforms since 2010 but the lethargy of the Education Ministry had prevented him from doing so. Wickremaratne commenting on a recent statement by President Mahinda Rajapaksa who had said he would meet with FUTA for discussions only after it had called off the ongoing strike questioned Prof. Wijesinha as to whether the President should meet the union at this time.

Prof. Wijesinha said the President need not meet with the union because it would not serve a purpose, he said. “I fully agree that discussions should be there but on a policy basis. The problem should be discussed in terms of the crisis and not two demands alone,” he said.

Meanwhile Dr. Dewasiri said the union began its trade union action because it saw there was a crisis in the education system to which the answer was still not clear. “People have questioned as to whether we have the right to make these demands but we saw the need for open discussion,” Dewasiri said.

Source: Daily Mirror – Sri Lanka