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When the President put me on the delegation to negotiate with the TNA, in April 2011, I found that no response had been made to suggestions they had made a couple of months previously. I thought this was absurd, and urged a response. These are the notes I made.

Unfortunately there were no meetings of our delegation to review such matters. We could not take things further, even though I did manage, by insisting by dates for the next meeting being fixed whenever we met, to have regular meetings, whereas previously these were few and far between, and there was no continuity. It was perhaps because there was some progress that Sajin Vas Gunawardena stopped telling me about meetings. Read the rest of this entry »


At the debate on the FUTA demands arranged a couple of weeks back by Eran Wickramaratne, perhaps the most telling complaint made by the FUTA head was about children in a distant village clustering in droves before dawn to get the bus to a school far away. That anecdote seemed to have nothing to do with the FUTA strike, though it should have been if the demand for 6% of GDP being spent on education was about results, rather than simply sloganeering. The failure to respond at all coherently to Eran’s simple question, what should be done with the 6%, made it clear that policy changes which would lead to a better education system for all was not part of the agenda.

This was sad, because I am sure that some at least of those leading the strike are idealists, not concerned with the massive pay hikes that are being demanded on top of already large salaries. But the failure to analyse the root causes in the decline of our education system that they have highlighted, and to suggest radical reforms that ensure greater accountability, simply plays into the hands of those in the government sector who are satisfied with the status quo. I assume therefore that the strike will soon be settled, with yet another salary hike on top of all those the current government has granted so readily over the last few years, with no effort to deal with the problems of children forced to travel endlessly, to distant schools and to tuition classes, to make up for the failure of government to provide decent schools even in small towns, let alone in villages.

One of the reasons for this failure is the absence of coordination between the providers of the various services essential to a society committed to equal opportunities. Sadly it has not yet registered with our decision makers that good transport facilities are an essential component of a just society. It is useless providing schools and hospitals unless access to them is easy.

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Andrea Spalinger

Dear Sir

I was deeply shocked by the article on Sri Lanka by Andrea Spalinger that appeared in your columns last week. She listened in while I was giving an interview to another lady from Switzerland, and I fear she has misrepresented some of the things I said.

Innuendo, as with regard to the last sentence concerning me, and omission of relevant facts, as with my comments on housing, are bad enough. But while one has got used to that with all journalists, downright falsehood still continues to alarm, and especially in the columns of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung.

Most worrying is her claim that in the area of civil reconstruction very little has been undertaken. This is not only nonsense, it seems deliberate distortion in someone who must understand the value of the social services provided as well as support for housing and individual livelihoods. Since however there is no point playing snap with her in terms of statements as to what one has seen, I am sending you a few photographs of recently built schools as well as houses. One of the latter was through army support while the other was through Indian assistance, both of which programmes I mentioned during the interview. I have recently published photo essays of progress in these areas, as in that of commerce, which your readers might like to look at on Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

April 2019
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