An Open Letter to Mr. Susil Premjayantha-Minister of Education and Mr. Wiswa Warnapala Minister of Higher Education.
Posted on December 11th, 2009

by Charle.S.Perera

Some time back I posted an article in Lankaweb, ” Where every Blake, Chilcott and Hogg, talks of Human Rights of terrorists, nobody speaks of the Human Rights, Grievances and Aspirations of Unemployed Graduates. », which was about the unemployed graduates and the ridiculous masquarade of giving some of them a grueling physical training under a scheme with the imposing title of Yovun Diriya, with the false promise of giving them government employment.

 After the army style training imposed upon about 2088 youthful unemployed graduates of both sexes, they were sent away without any guarantee of employment. Following the government’s failure to keep to its promise of providing them with employments they took to the streets to attract the attention of the Ministry of Education to their plight with manifestations and sit-ins in front of the Fort Railway Station.

 Subsequently after several attacks of tear gaz, and water jets, of the 2088 poor unemployed graduates who went through the Yovun Diriya ordeal, 1044 of them were provided with government employment in the Education Ministry, which as you may see from what some of these Yovun Diriya trainees say is an employment which leave them « neither here nor there ».

 Under the designation of « non academic staff » they have become bonded slaves to an employer- a Principle of a school, to serve him or her according to his or her whim and fancy, without any prospect of promotion, without any possibility of being one day offered a teaching appointment, accepted into the Administrative Service, or even without any hope of ameliorating their present conditions of service.

From time to time the unemployed Graduates have been recruited under four different categories:

 Project Assistants ( weda satahan sahakara)

Management Assistants ( kalamanakara sahakara)

Planning and Primary Assistants ( selasum saha mulys sahakara)

People’s council Assistants ( janasabha sahakara )

 The Yovun Diriya Trainees who went through the grueling physical training course, have been recruited under the third category namely as Planning and Primary Assistants.

They have been employed in schools, without the minimum of proper working conditions required under the International Convention of Labour.

 At a recent Resident Workshop ( -Nevasika Wedamuluwa) held in Kandy by the Ministry of Education to look into their grievances, and prepare them to take over other responsibilities.(without finding a way out of their hopeless situation), they spoke out, to complain of their situation.

 One of them complained that the chair that has been given to him to sit on is broken and that he has to set the leg of it every morning before he could sit on it. Another « non-academic girl graduate employee » complains that the staff room is out of bounds to her and once when she kept her hand bag in the Staff room it was given back to her with the strict instruction that she should not keep her .hand bag or any of her personal items in the staff room.

 Another who has been asked to occupy the computer spends her time typing letters drafted by others the « Madam » or the « Sir ». The table on which the computer has been placed is too high for her to reach and she says, that using the mouse of the computer when typing letters is a painful task and the « employer » pays least attention to her complaints. They have not been given any type of training, even in the use of the Computers. But yet they use the computers as best as they can.

 In another case the Principle had asked the “non-academic graduate employee” to prepare a CD including a work plan. When she said that she has no idea how it should be done, the Principle had warned her that it is her duty and to find a way to do it. This poor Selasum saha Mulya Shakara had gone to a computer technician and paid out of her own pocket to prepare the CD. She got no credit for it, nor was she paid, because according to the Principle it was her duty.

 These unfortunate graduates, say they are in fact reduced to being sweepers, scavengers, waiters, secretaries, peons and messengers. Some of them have to prepare tea for the « Madam » and the staff, who even leave the empty cups after they have « enjoyed » the tea to be washed by the « non-academic graduate employee ».

 Another of these unfortunates says with tears in her eyes that she even cleans the toilets. Yet another complains that she is asked to sweep the floors, while an arrogant « peon » a Office Assistant ( karya sahakara) who has had long service in the school office, is never asked to perform such a low task and the Principle directs such work to the junior « non-academic graduate employee » .

 The teaching staff treats the non-academic graduate employee as girl typists calling them « Miss », without calling them more familiarly by their names. They are not allowed to even replace an absent member of the teaching staff, and the subjects in which they are qualified not being put into use gradually « escape » from their memories, and they would soon be reduced to ignorant nincompoops, lowly clerks without any prospects.

 At the Workshop they were taught how to maintain a petty cash account. One « non-academic graduate » had dared to speak up to say that he is a graduated in Fine Arts, and he knows next to nothing about keeping accounts, and asked the Directors conducting the work shop to give them teaching appointments.

 The answer the director had given seems sardonic. He had said that they cannot be given teaching appointments, adding that he too had started from being a Clerk in a government office, and he studied and worked his way through, to become the Director. But the « non-academic graduate employees » have no hope of ever being even a teachers.

 Strangely though 300 of these in Sabaragamuwa have been given teaching appointments on the initiative of the Chief Minister of the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council.

 But the 300 of them in the Central Province are denied teaching appointments which undoubtedly is a discrimination that the Minister of Education Mr. Premajayantha should look into in the name of justice and fair play. Some of the schools where these “non-academic graduates “ are employed are short of teaching staff , but the Yovun Diriya non academic graduates are not allowed even to replace an absent teacher, which would be a fair thing to do at least to recognize the fact of their being qualified graduates.

 There are much too many grievances of these « unfortunates » to write about. And I write this as an appeal to the Minister to look more positively in to the grievances of these non-academic staff who were made to suffer doing military exercises in the Yovun Diriya Project. It would be justifiable that these 300 young graduates in the Central Province and the others working in other provinces are also given teaching appointments( as and when they become available), as it had been done for the 300 of them in Sabaragamuwa .

 The Minister should also look into the situation of the balance 1044 Yovun Diriya Trainees who have been completely left out, and are still without employment. It is the duty of the government to help these young graduates taken under the Yovun Diriya Project and find them employment at least as compensation for a military style training under which they were made to suffer, holding before them the ” carrot ” of a government employment. It had been an experiment of the government, where the young unemployed graduates were used as“ guinea pigs”.

 “¦..to Mr. Wiswa Warnapala Minister of Higher Education on 132 holders of the National Diploma to teach English.

 The Minister of Higher Education Mr.Wiswa Warnapala has not done any better. His Ministry organized a course in the University of Colombo for a National Diploma to teach English. 132 of the trainees received the Diplomas at a ceremony with pomp and pageantry.

 But they remain in their homes with their National Diplomas in English and none of them have been offered any employment ever since. All these Diploma Courses and the ceremonies must have cost a tidy some of money to the Ministry of Higher Education, and some at least may have profited from the program, though not the winners of the Diploma.

 The Minister of Higher Education seems to be satisfied of his praise worthy effort of organizing the National Diploma Course to teach English. But his satisfaction has not given any benefit to the innocent trainees , who had only been given a false hope of the possibility of employment. But nothing has been done to help them after the distribution of Diplomas. They have been the victims of a Ministerial swindle !

 The Minister Wiswa Warnapala had not taken into account the difficulties some of these young women from out side Colombo went through in following the course, hoping that the difficulties that they under go will be compensated by getting an employment as an English Teacher.

 Coming from outside Colombo to this course they had to find accommodation, and that being very expensive in Colombo the parents of these girls had to face the difficulty of finding money to find lodgings, and undergo mental suffering leaving their children alone in Colombo without being able to protect them from the difficult situation that prevailed then in Colombo, with the terrorism that was still threatening Colombo with explosives.

 It is hoped that better council will prevail and the Minister of Higher Education would step in to help these young women find employment as teachers of English for which they were trained.

One Response to “An Open Letter to Mr. Susil Premjayantha-Minister of Education and Mr. Wiswa Warnapala Minister of Higher Education.”

  1. Priyantha Abeywickrama Says:

    This is an interesting article. I am bit surprised as there are not many viewers coming out with comments on many challenging articles appearing at this website that can reach to your core human values. Dear editor, can you please somehow indicate the hits you get on each article, as it is important to spend time sharing my thoughts at your website. Our education system is a total mess that needs to be removed like a cancer and in the process all those employed should be sent to compulsory retirement (hell is the best place) to prevent any contamination of future systems of education. You inadvertently gave the right title to the HE minister (Mr. – non-titled commoner) though he is supposed to be a professor. Unfortunately, I would not encourage English as having any relevance to education in Lanka that will keep the servile nature continuing in the minds of the gullible. In fact, all those who genuinely wish to follow English as the language of preference should be branded aliens, confiscated their assets and deported back to England giving a clean sweep of the rotten garbage stinking to the core. English is a language that turns people confined to a primitive world of their own, isolated from loved ones and dieing thousand times before the real death, which forces them to struggle and to be more worried about the words than the knowledge transfer expected by an advanced language like Sinhala, where there is no conflict in usage of words since they are correctly identified with a unique part of knowledge known to the community. The perfect clarity in knowledge transfer made me a favourite of Sinhala language over English and to reject English as totally useless. I wonder how many of readers would ever get the full picture contained in my comment. English education continued by these politicians servile to colonial masters has contributed to the creation of a group similar to donkeys that try to behave like dogs. Learning English must be left to the skilled language specialists (exploring language based killer mind-venom) who can overcome the effects of evil-minded charming processes driving to trances, just like those handling venomous snakes or life threatening poisons. I wonder how many of you have succumbed to this menace and sacrificed everything that belonged to your life and your future generations. How evil is English is reflected by the devotion of nearly 350 millions humans (including many of you) belonging to almost every ethnic background less a very few Sinhala who have abandoned their natural heritage with some even going to the other extreme to destroy their own main ethnic origin like SF (MR is not that far away considering his own policies). I wish anyone could tell me why Sinhala people should give a damn about English, a language spoken by devils who were BOATED OUT during ancient times for their barbarity (I wish one of you could elaborate on this insinuation). We have put together a system of society based on ancient Sinhala knowledge with latest advances where education is considered the key. The following are a few of main features added below for anyone amongst the viewers to be inspired by ancestral wisdom inherited from Sinhala fore-parentage, if any left within them.

    1. We offer a six hour STANDARD hour common work life extended to 25% of working life that will guarantee all the needs of our life such as food, shelter, medicine, transport etc. that needed for all (definition of STANDARD hour is task-based standardised hours and is not necessarily equal to natural time measurement- could be shorter for those above community average skills level). We talk of a fulfilling life, the best in the world, not mere existence. (Today you spend your whole life dreaming of a better tomorrow.)
    2. We will offer an opportunity to use individual skills and knowledge at institutions that will be owned by the very people who contribute to operate them while retaining ultimate non-transferable ownership with the community that will be a continuum. (Today you sell everything you know to your employer to feed yourself and leave nothing for the future generations.)
    3. We will produce everything that any other community has made during last ten thousand years within our country and more, which nobody has yet manufactured to help our lives in every possible way. That may include things that are even beyond current imagination in technological and economical terms.
    4. We will create an environment free of all current evils that arose from single-person rule that worked well some thirty thousand years back by means that carry not just power, but other essential elements of controls where the core value will be CONSENT (Sammathaya), never use of force or other means.
    5. There will be no need to cry foul or plead for help because we will get what we need at the right time. As an example, a pregnant woman will be solely concerned about giving birth to a healthy child and nothing else and would do that until the new born finds others trustworthy to let her do her chores. After all, we are borne to live and reproduce our next generation, not to be slaves to anybody. Another is the opportunity available to all maturing children to be part of the effective community at the right time, not close to retirement.
    6. All luxuries of life will come at the right time to everyone who constitutes our community and creation of privileged classes or exclusive professions to have a better life by holding others under wraps will be a thing of the past.
    7. Education in many fields that affect life will be not for a selected few, but a must for all and free from the best in the world. Never pay for education, as what you get for money is not worth a penny. Education must be to gain mental and physical skills to live life in full and longer as equals, but never to be employees (slaves).
    8. We will built a system of survival that will surpass the nature that has decided our lives to this day using our advanced technological achievements and ensure that our future children will live their lives as normal as possible even if this world collapses under the influence of the devils who have brought us so much misery.
    9. We have tools and means to satisfy every type of humans to live their lives in the way they like if they wish for life and living longer. Criminals who make life miserable for others will have no influence in our community when implemented.
    10. And more …

    This is politics of the future. Check out for crooks who will parrot ours as theirs (This has happened already). If sounds bizarre, please ignore this as it is understandable only by those with Sinhala heritage (opposite of SFs, Challabies and Karsais). Thank you editor for the opportunity in advance.

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