Final nail into raggers’ coffin!
Posted on July 11th, 2011

 

Dr. Tilak Fernando

Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake’s firm stand to put an end to ragging in Sri Lankan universities guaranteeing that the “ƒ”¹…”government will not allow any newcomers to be harmed within any state university premises as a result of ragging’ will be a consolation to many parents and students who have been deterred and deprived of a university education due to apprehension.

A one-man commission (V.W. Kularatne) appointed by the state some years back revealed that, “even after 20 years, perversion and sadism persisted at our seats of higher learning”. Even today what we get to see is an eyeful of symptoms of a malady that part of a university student population is infected with. An unfortunate but commonly established fact in life is that when something is given free of charge its value tends to deplete.

University students

Ragging has been part and parcel of university students’ life for decades the world over and Sri Lanka is no exception. Experience of a new entrant who walks through the portals of a higher seat of learning in the UK, for example, is quite different. Here the new undergraduates are cordially welcomed, assisted and guided by senior students to make newcomers feel “ƒ”¹…”at home’.


Minister S. B. Dissanayake

A civilised order then takes place where new undergraduates are grouped into various batches and a senior student takes the responsibility of being the section leader of each group to assist and look after the needs and welfare of his/her new batch. Classifying each such leader as “ƒ”¹…”uncle’ or “ƒ”¹…”aunt’ these senior students endeavour to give sound advice to the new to get familiarised with the university environments for a week. During that period new students are briefed on codes of discipline and taken them on guided tours through the entire university surroundings showing and introducing them to different departments, directing them to library facilities, showing public conveniences etc. A week of such activities ends up in a barbeque where everyone joins and familiarises with each other as members of a family unit.

New environment

These “ƒ”¹…”uncles and “ƒ”¹…”aunts’ are always at the disposal of the newcomers who either feel isolated in a different and new environment from their homes or villages or become home sick having left their parents for the first time in life. In short, it would help newcomers to settle down with a peace of mind and concentrate on their studies to shape their future constructively.

In Sri Lanka the experience of new entrants to a state university can be a nightmare because of the “ƒ”¹…”indecent and inhuman’ ragging. What we have read about the tragic circumstances of a student from Sabaragamuwa University who was sexually abused and brutally tortured by raggers is a gruesome example of what raggers can be up to. The graphic details highlighted in a book authored by Samantha’s mother about the outrageous killing of her son merely because the victim did not participate with raggers were a shameful and deplorable incident. Can any human being stoop to a level of attacking another fellow human, in this particular case a fellow student, with razor-sharp sticks with nails attached to them and crushing his head with a computer while he was dying? Can anyone believe that after such brutality and the victim was breathing his last the raggers shouting and rejoicing saying, “it’s over here, we killed the dog”.

Education system

This goes to show to what extent ragging itself in Sri Lanka has gone to the dogs!

This type of cruelty, in the name of ragging, has been going on without much change and moving in parallel on the same rails for decades due to either a failure in our education system or some political dogma raising its ugly head as a venomous serpent.

Commenting on the latest thinking and proposals on the part of the government to groom new students with soft skills training programmes in the hope that their personality and leadership qualities would be developed to eradicate negative mentality that is prevalent today, some observers have publicly suggested’ “ƒ”¹…”to develop a core curriculum, provision of resources, combine practical experience with theoretical studies to match and blend with the constantly changing new technology in a contemporary world’.

It is also suggested as a vital component in educating students to “ƒ”¹…”depart from the trend of making students memorising notes in “ƒ”¹…”parrot fashion’ and writing answers as encouraged by most lecturers who repeat their tutorials word for word year on year. Lecturers, on their part too, need to continuously upgrade their own knowledge and assessment system and should give more weight to application, and a medium of instruction – wherever possible in English’.

Minister S. B. Dissanayake’s proposed action to wipe out ragging in universities altogether and making it mandatory could be seen as a step in a right direction. In advanced countries, prior to entry into a university, every student takes an oath that he/she will not rag, and if caught in doing so will accept the responsibility and the consequences thereof.

Civil society

On rare occasions and in extreme cases, undergraduates have been publicly caned at assembly sessions of higher seats of learning as a deterrent to repeated misbehaviour and even suspended for a limited period of time, up to one week, for insubordination or indiscipline in universities abroad. Their punishments may seem harsh but so were the actions of the victims in well organized and highly well-organized intellectual systems, but there have been no fasts unto death or making a big hue and a cry by other fellow students to disrupt the education of hundreds of disciplined students who have one aim in seeking a university education to improve their mental capacities, develop approaches in any given situation through such academic experience and to amass tools to measure value based aspects and impacts in civil society once they pass out as university graduates.

2 Responses to “Final nail into raggers’ coffin!”

  1. aravinda Says:

    Timely article, ragging is a criminal act, and raggers should be punished as common criminals. The main reason for ragging is inferiority complex among student who come from lower social-economic backgrounds. They seek equality by trying to impose their will on new students. This mind set need to change. Few long term jail terms to raggers will solve this problem overnight.

  2. Sajith Says:

    First SB stop thuggery, then students will stop ragging. What’s worse?

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