Sri Lanka’s Education Mafia
Posted on August 28th, 2012

Shenali Waduge

Undeniably something is wrong somewhere and that somewhere is our education. The stock exchange is supposed to be ruled by the mafia, perhaps even the sports arena, so too is present day politicos and it is no exaggeration to say that there is a mafia controlling the education of Sri Lanka. Our objective is to view all areas of discussion and to determine how best we can address these areas instead of delaying action through blame tactics.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ What is on paper is never practiced and what should be practiced is never relevant to all. This is what ails every area of polity in Sri Lanka.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Making promises to win votes and then forgetting to fulfill those promises is part and parcel of the lies that all politicians make. This is why they say we get the politicians we deserve because we have voted them in. If people stand up for their rights, if people demand politicians stick to policies and make policies that are relevant to the nation we would be on a proper sustainable journey.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The grievances of University Teachers (Federation of University TeachersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ Association)

The magnanimity of carrying out a strike since 4 July 2012 to fight to save State education has to be commended but is that the real scenario? The demands certainly raises questions as does the fact that most academics have chosen to disassociate themselves from the strike not willing to hold students as hostage ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” something the health sector doctors should take a lesson from.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The main thrust of FUTA demands camouflaged behind the grandiose suggestion to bring Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s education allocation to 6% of its GDP was voiced only after the salaries and perks of academics were publicized leading the public to question what the fuss was all about.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Nowhere does any state allocate 6% of its GDP towards education. The US allocation is 5.4%, in the UK it is 5.6%, Canada is 4.8%, Australia is 5.1% while in India it is 4%. True Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s allocation has seen a downward trend but we need to explore the reality behind this scenario just as we need to wonder whether FUTA is using this as a slogan for international and local media attention. Our interest is aroused further when FUTA demands that the Government recognizes the profession in par with the Sri Lanka Administrative Service while also insisting the Government allocates and allowance upto 30% of their basic salary for those not living in university quarters, provide internet and broadband allowance, childrensƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ education allowance upto 2 children to be able to send them to private/international schools. FUTA would have received our admiration if it had insisted that all hostels be upgraded, toilet/washroom facilities improved, library services developed and other infrastructural deficiencies addressed before any of their personal demands!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ We do not deny that academics need to play a crucial role in human resource building. The sad situation is that by virtue of officials functioning as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-yes menƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ to politicians over the years they have handed over their rights to politicians creating the present crisis. Should we not blame ourselves for allowing politicians to walk off with the power that initially rested with us?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Qualifications, Salaries, Teaching Hours of Academics and Teachers

The question of qualification has also emerged. To be appointed as a professor one must have at least 10 publications in ISI and Scopus level internationally indexed journals with a PhD from a good ranking university. It is said that the majority of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-ProfessorsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ in Sri Lanka do not meet this criteria. This then calls for a thorough investigation and a total clean up of the entire university system starting from top down and not bottom up as is often the practice.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s university system has 386 Professors, 79 Associate Professors, 1929 Senior Lecturers, 1556 Lecturers and 326 academic support staff in 18 universities. With about 4000 lecturers, the UGC claims over 550 academics have broken their bonds and not returned to Sri Lanka. What the UGC must next answer is what have they done about it instead of using these figures for argument purposes. It was a former UGC Chairman now a member of something called the Friday Forum who cancelled the 500 Indian Government scholarships offered through the Indo-Lanka Accord after securing placements for his own daughters!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Globally teachers are said to be paid the least. Comparing salaries against industry salaries is unfair just as it is to argue comparing teacher salaries with their overseas counterparts.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ American schools start generally at 7:30a.m. with teachers coming at least a half hour early to write the days objectives on the board, to allow a quick tutoring session for the weak. Lessons are 40minute and school ends at 3:30p.m. Teachers do not leave school along with their students, theyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  stay behind to prepare work for the next day often as late as 5p.m. Teachers never leave class without setting the classroom, making notes, assignments and activity handouts. Even weekends are spent in planning and marking work. In the US teachers spend an average of 50 hours a week on instructional duties, including an average of 12hrs a week on non-compensated school related activities (grading papers, advising students, parent counseling etc). Teachers are rigorously evaluated, they have to be regularly re-certified and they have to meet complex state and federal standards and they are expected to qualify as well. Is this the practice in Sri Lanka by teachers or academics for them to compare themselves with their counterparts?ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Nowhere are allowances paid for paper correction, paper setting, exam supervision and even lecture visits over and above oneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s salary. Academics are given fully paid sabbatical leave every 7 years that extend to 2-3 years or more, air fares even for the spouse are covered by the state, they are not disallowed from lecturing privately, providing consultations, involved in projects with these earnings are tax free, they enjoy more holidays than other public sector personnel. More often much of the scholarships awarded to academics are simply to advance their own personal careers than to provide any quality to the service offered to students.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  The gross salary of a Probationary lecturer is Rs.51,316 while a Senior Professor earns Rs.126,536 and the take home with all the accrued allowances is something that will raise the envy of other public servants. Though together we can only wonder what qualifications politicians possess to enjoy the best of perks while being the main cause of waste and corruption. No one will grudge payments to academics or teachers if the quality of their teaching depicts results through the students they make into tomorrowƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s leaders.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Waste, Corruption, Mismanagement and Politics

One aspect we all agree is that billions of money is being wasted by the State on tamashas suggested by ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-advisorsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ seeking to pocket profits for themselves at the cost of the country. It is a fact that the tax defaulters are the very people close to Government. Over 80% taxes are paid by the ordinary citizen. Yet, these very rich defaulters are given tax holidays and tax concessions knowing that they continue to default payments to the state.

While public revenue is just 14.3% of the GDP the expenditure is double. To allocate 6% towards education the Government needs to find Rs.272billion.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It is unfair to write-off FUTA as a body being politically backed to cause unrest in universities. They have highlighted some discrepancies and one such is the discontinuance of the scheme to encourage foreign students from 48 targeted countries. While the gesture to market Sri Lankan universities is commendable what the Government idea mavericks have failed to do is to consult the academics to derive criteria to select the foreign students which has led to the entire intake obtaining poor grades at the examinations. This lack of synergy and communication flaws has cost the Government USD12,000 per student.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ At the same time while FUTA is asking for all decisions of the university education to be taken by university academics. That is exactly what is happening. All the decision makers of the UGC are made by university lecturers. In most countries it is the universities themselves who have to find funds for their survival ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” their Governments do not get involved. The appointments are contract and if they do not perform their contracts are not renewed. In the case of Sri Lanka, the Government is allocating funds and if the funds that are allocated is not spent wisely it is the academics more than the Government that must shoulder responsibility.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Governmental waste is nothing confined to Sri Lanka alone though it certainly does not excuse how our politicians function. So far the US Presidential ad campaign has cost over half a billion dollars while 46million Americans (22.3million households) live on food stamps. If US administration cuts over 70 of its programs US would save over $4.2trillion.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Who is to shoulder blame for Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s education crisis? Is it ONLY the Ministers in Charge of Education? Is it they who have leaked the scholarship examination paper in advance? Is it they who set question papers erroneously? Is it their folly that has resulted in re-correction upgrades to close to 3000 A/L students? Is it they who write the text books and plan the syllabus and curricular? Obviously not, therefore changing Ministers is unlikely to resolve the problem and it is the officials who have been offering a lackluster service who must go forthwith.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The bane for all developing nations is the misuse of political power. Trade unions inside universities have become a perfect political tool that uses students for their own political gains. Brainwashed youth are unable to read through these political motivated trade unions. One wonders who sponsored the t-shirts with 6% save education slogan! When will youth question why these unions prefer to have student as guinea pigs instead of helping them to improve their knowledge of English, help them acquire soft skills needed for employment and nurture behavioral attitudes that working environments desire above oneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s paper qualifications. Instead youth are only encouraged to take to the streets bellowing demands against a Government.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ School Admissions

Let us next come to the fiasco associated with Grade 1 admissions. The 1mile radius is non-existent for all those with political clout and influence. Private schools that openly declare non-admission to Non-Catholics and Non-Christians are willing to sacrifice that ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-policyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ for a humongous ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-donationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. Free education is all but in name ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” we do not appreciate that what is free is being paid by the State through taxes paid by ordinary citizens. It is good to assess the income groups before awarding school uniforms though it is part of the free service alongside the text books.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ English education

The truth behind the present divide and associated issues stems from the elites of both Sinhala and Tamil irrespective of whether they were Buddhists, Hindus, Christians or Catholics who did not want the non-elites to enjoy education and learning. The Sinhala and Tamil elites did not want non-elites to gain English education, enter university as it would challenge their status in society. Nevertheless, in todayƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s global climate we cannot stress enough the need for English and IT knowledge. Learning English does not equate to mean one should compromise the place given to oneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s main language or the cultures associated with it. This is how the politically motivated trade unions in universities have misled the youth. To be educated is not to simply to have a piece of paper. University education is much more than coming out with a bachelors or masters degree.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Tuition, Examinations and Competition

The tuition menace is nothing but another commercial enterprise created to fleece parents and continue the present system of memorizing notes and little output at the end of the day though practically every child attends tuition. It is due to the inefficiency of the State that private institutes have cashed in on offering services that are no better while nothing is being done to monitor their services.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Examinations have turned into competition amongst parents which is affecting the mental status of their children. That competition is relevant to school donations, gifts to teachers, type of lunch box or water bottle brought even registering students for courses without finding how legitimate they are.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ For university teachers, teaching should mean far more than reading or explaining a text. It is an adult forum where both teacher and student engage in discussing the subject matter exchanging differences of opinion and appreciating those differences. Tolerance and appreciation of both parties is tested. University education is not about giving notes, memorizing those notes and duplicating the exact notes given by oneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s tutor in order to obtain the highest marks! The same should apply to school education as well. Nevertheless, we are well aware that very few teachers even encourage children to put forward an opposing view and children too are forced to suppress their desire to counter the teacher for fear of retribution.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Increasing salaries does not necessarily increase a teacherƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s ability to teach if he/she did not have that ability when recruited. Therefore, if we had proper systems to recruit talented teachers and if they had been poorly paid then there is an argument. Nevertheless, we need to sincerely accept that our teachers lack quality. Therefore, simply increasing their salaries is not going to improve the quality of their teaching. Teachers who take up teaching as a job are not teachers and the Government needs to stop the ugly practice of offering wholesale jobs for graduates as teachers when they obviously lack the ability to teach and will only contribute to their own frustration as well as that of the students.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s education curriculum

It is essential that Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s curriculum address key requirements. Students must be self-directed learners ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” they must understand the basics of right and wrong. Curriculums must engage students skills and talents and depart from the present trend to memorize. Students must be encouraged to explore, question, investigate and evaluate their work.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Way Forward

University education in Sri Lanka began in 1942. 70 years on we are still searching for solutions to put education on track.

Advisors and consultants living and working in Colombo do not understand or feel the need to tap and nurture the inherent talents of children in rural areas. The schools they attend are often neglected, the infrastructure they deserve is never allocated, teachers are not trained yet the motivation to learn remains alive in these children. There is no requirement for new schemes and systems that eats up billions of rupees unless we properly evaluate the present systems and completely annul those that are irrelevant. Half-way programs spell further dangers to an education system that has become a convenient tool to completely destabilize the future generation of Sri Lanka.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The problems that exist are many. University students are involved in politics when they should be working towards completing their degrees. There is an overload of information which is not structured to tap the students skills and talents and instead encourages memorizing. The tuition enterprise has added to the failure with nothing constructive coming except fleecing parents. Loss of faith in the school system rests with not just the Government or the Ministers in Charge. The academics in universities, the teachers at schools, the parents and the students themselves are equally accountable. The situations become aggravated and blown out of proportions by trade unions, political parties and external forces. When a student is ragged and perhaps dies from the ragging it is not the Government or the Minister that should take the blame but the academics in whose power it is to put an end to ragging. Similarly, it is for academics to stop politics taking place inside universities and if academics do not play politics themselves attempting to win support of politicians much of the confusion that exists would not take place at all. The need therefore is for all these segments to accept their accountability and thereafter to devise ways to come out of the mess that has been created.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Teaching is not a PROFESSION. It is or rather should be meant for ONLY those teachers who love being with children/young adults, who enjoy engaging with them and encouraging them to learn.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  If teachers do not have creativity, adaptability, resourcefulness and thoughtful planning it is highly unlikely they will succeed as teachers and children are unlikely to get anything out of their teaching as well.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It is now time to stop the blame game and start cleaning up the mess that is Education and bring it to a level that we can feel proud about because we are dealing with Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s future.




30 Responses to “Sri Lanka’s Education Mafia”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    SL universities are just JUNK. Worse than Zimbabwe’s universities.

    Yes. Mugabe’s universities rank ABOVE SL universities.

    Some FOOLS get offended when TRUTH is told. They MUST be BY-PRODUCTS of these universities! :))

    ACCEPT there is a problem so that we can FIX it. If you don’t accept there is a problem, it will continue.

  2. RanjithD Says:

    It is amazing when everytime the university academics demand that they be compensated well for their often highly acknowledged service to the society, every Tom Dick and Harry comes out with these arguements. They accept that the teachers are the lowest paid; and then also say that without teachers, the society will collapse. Education is fundamental to human progress yet educators are some of the poorest, compared to their learning, skills they have and service to the society.

    I was an academic in Sri Lanka and left in disgust; Instead of begging to be paid well. To become a university academic, you have to be the best educated. Fisrt class or second upper etc. then further study, further study; 2 years Masters, 3 years or more PhD, write papers, publish books, keep up knowledge etc etc. By the time you get there, your friends who were far behind you in uni, have earned, built their houses, bought cars, established well in life. In other words, achieved.

    I look at my own batchmates and know that I am the one worse off economically. Every one else who even failed subjects after subject are now doing very well. When I was in Sri Lanka, I was unable to keep up with expenses, electricity bills, telephone bills, children’s education, keep up with social obligations, help your poor parents and brothers and sisters. Buy a land buuild a house etc etc. were unthinkable. After all, when we were learning, we grew up with the belief that if you did very well in education, you will eventually do well in life.

    Frankly, this is not the case for University academics. Consideraing the amount of learning, level of learning and eventual earning, this whole thing is bullshit. I cannot advise my children to pursue higher education like I did because they see that those who have stopped at AL, or did not do well in university are doing far better than the so called ‘professor’.

    Academics are poorly paid not only in Sri Lanka; yet nowhere else do they insult you in this way, as Shenali, Lorenzoi are doing and many others continue to do.

    I have a request to all academics in Sri Lanka. Get out of this begging from the governments and stupid people and all sundry for a decent living. Get out of the academia. Leave the country if you can. Do something that pays you well. Do not go begging. Do not worry about other’s education etc etc., They put you up in the pedestal and kick your ass !!. THAT IS WHAT THE SOCIETY IS. get out sooner, the better you will be. Let them say what ever they want. They do not pay your bills, They do not worry about you and your children. You should be selffish and look after your self. That is what every one else does. We academics are a misguided lot to believe in this nonsense of serving society; keep begging for money in the belief that, yes they will do eventually. You will only die a poor professor as many in the past have done.

  3. shenali Says:

    1. If anyone takes up Teaching (academics included) with the MAIN intention of making money, they are not Teachers. There are so many other avenues that can be taken to make money.

    2. Teachers and Teaching is not a profession – it is a Talent that only a few have and not confined to only those who have higher qualifications. Simply put all degree holders may not necessarily have the ability to teach nor the ability to make the listener understand. Such a situation does not accrue any results to the student or the results.

    3. A real teacher is and should be never in competition to compare earnings. The respect that comes from being a teacher looked up to by one’s students is far more than any person with a 5 figure salary can earn (it is not in monetary terms)

    4. There is no insult to academics or teachers – hat is being conveyed is that not everyone can be a teacher, not everyone can teach and all those take up teaching without the main ingredients needed to teach end up frustrated and make the students frustrated more and all this has contributed to the apathetic situation in Sri Lanka.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    A great analysis by Shenali.

    It was news to me to learn Sri Lankan government alone spends 6% of GDP on education. This is very high compared to even the most developed OECD countries where the average is 4.2%. In the OECD, only Denmark, Norway and Iceland spend more than 6% of GDP on education.

    Beleive it or not Japan spends the lowest in primary, secondary and tertiery education combined at only 3% of GDP. Half that of Sri Lanka’s government spend.

    1. Going by these statistics it is clear there is wastage, inefficiency, disruption and corruption at the heart of the problem.

    2. It prompts me to revisit a topic Shenali, Ben and I discussed 5 years ago in Lankaweb. Sri Lanka must spend more on entrepreneurship development and trade education to those who don’t go to universities and to graduates. The pie is limited so a different resource allocation method is needed.

    3. One of the biggest area of wastage to the economy is graduates leaving the island without returning the worth of their university education. A maximum service requirement of 5 years must be imposed on every graduate. They could proportionately pay it depending on the number of years of service after graducation that is less than 5 if leaving the island unless on a SLBFE agreement. If they want to leave the country immediately, they ust pay the full cost of the course which is very small compared to their earnings abroad. For instance a medical graduate costs over 3 million rupees to taxpayers. He/she must return this by way of service to the country (with normal pay of course).

    4. KDU facilities must be enhanced as it seems to be functioning efficiently, with least amount of politics and NGO antics and serving the nation well.

    5. UGC managed university opportunities must be equitable to all ethnic groups. At the moment Upcountry Tamils and Muslims are disproportionately under-represented in universities. Total taxpayer funded university students’ ethnic composition must reflect the society. An ethnicity based standardisation scheme based on census data (individual and national) is needed.

  5. Dilrook Says:

    I agree university academics, judges, doctors and the like should be compensated better. It is an economic reality although economics is not everything.

    By following my suggestions above, university academics can be better compensated without adding a needless burden on taxpayers.

  6. RanjithD Says:

    More bullshit Shenali,

    1. Teachers do not take to teaching to make money. We know that. You do not need to lecture us on that. But they DO need money. They exist in society and they have same aspirations, responsibilities and needs as you do. Your arguement is ‘if you took to teaching because it is enjoyable or intellectually exciting or whatever, forget about being well paid’. what a load of nonsense.

    2. When you say, teaching is not a profession, you do not know what you are talking about. Yes it does need talent; every professional needs talent. That does not mean that they do not need to be paid for that talent.

    3. Biggest bullshit. Teachers must not look at their pay packet, because they are respected by students !. The arguement is that when you are doing a respected job, you should not worry about how you are paid. Your arguement is that because you enjoy being respcetd by students and society, we will pay you less. !!!

    4. You continue to insult academics and claim that there is no insult. Every one knows that, not everybody can teach, not everybody wil want to become a teacher when there are many opportunities in front of them. That makes the teachers exceptionally valuable. The issue is not that. Issue is how they need to be financially rewarded.

    When the academics raise the issue of financial reward, you come out with their quality, should they be teachers, do they have scopus level papers etc etc. Untyil then, you had no problem with them. How many academics have you tested for their teaching quality to claim that the academics we have are of no value? It is just your imagination; constructed only to justify your arguement that they be kept low paid. Improving quality of teaching is an entirely different issue not necessarily detached from pay.

    Any way there is nopoint in us begging you guys. That is why I am inviting them to leave the academia in Sri Lanka. I did that, and I am still in teaching in a university that pays me well enough enojoying both my intellectual rewards and financial rewards. As for whether we are good teachers or not, our students know it and I for one have no grudges with either my students or my pay-masters, thank god now. not when I was in Sri Lanka.

    With people like Shenali, Lorenzo and Dilrook, advising the Sri Lankan policy makers and constructing public openions of Sri Lanka, Sri Lankas academia is doomed forever !!!

    Guys, get out the mess in Sri Lanka and let them have it. They will pamper on the one hand by saying that teachers ned to be talented, respected etc, etc. and then when you talk of your financial rewards, they will ask if you are fit to teach, and have quality, etc etc. Interestingly, they still want you to be teaching in those universities at the low salaries they pay you. They are telling you that they pay you less becauase you are no good. However, they are not better teachers than you either !!! They are just hypocrits, schemers and cheaters.

    Ley them have it. get out..

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    RanjithD has shown us an example of SL’s “QUALITY” academics.

    Thank you very much.

    A living example of the ACADEMIC TRAGEDY of SL.

    His choice of words is certainly NOT of academics. Otherwise I pity the students! No wonder so many ROWDY students in our universities when their academics use filth in public forums.

    e.g. “bullshit”, “bullshit:, “bullshit”

    e.g. “kick your ass”

    e.g. “every Tom Dick and Harry”

    THIS is the problem with SL univerisities.

    Thank you Ranjith once again.

  8. RanjithD Says:


    I have deliberately and consciuously come down to your kevel of thinking to answer you guys. Isn’t it stupid for you to judge a whole academic comunity on the basis of a comment in a website ? I am not in a Sri Lankan university in any case, so how did you conclude the ‘quality’ of my comment as representative of the universities of Sri Lanka.

  9. Lorenzo Says:


    You have to CLIMB UP to reach my level and I doubt you ever can.

    You said, “I was an academic in Sri Lanka and left in disgust.”

    What a tragedy to have academics who use filth in public websites!

    I don’t think OTHER academics are as bad.

  10. RanjithD Says:


    You think too high of yourself Man. I knew it when you started commenting on university education, which you know nothing about. But your knowledge of English is also so poor you do not know that the words I used to get my idea across, ‘ bullshit’ or ‘every Tom Dick and Harry’ were not filthy words as you claim. They are precisely the ones that has to be used to refer to those ideas of Shenali. I am not kidding.

    For your information. See the meanings of the words.

    Bullshit (also bullcrap) is a common English expletive which may be shortened to the euphemism bull or the initialism BS. In British English, “bollocks” is a comparable expletive, although bullshit is commonly used in British English. Its common meaning is to indicate a falsehood – a false proposition. Hence something which is “bullshit” is said to be false or exaggerated. As with many expletives, the term can be used as an interjection or as many other parts of speech, and can carry a wide variety of meanings.

    The phrase “Tom, Dick and Harry” is a placeholder for multiple unspecified people; “Tom, Dick or Harry” plays the same role for one unspecified person. The phrase most commonly occurs as “every Tom, Dick and Harry”, meaning everyone, and “any Tom, Dick or Harry”, meaning anyone, although Brewer defines the term to specify “a set of nobodies; persons of no note”.

    English theologian John Owen told a governing body at Oxford University that “our critical situation and our common interests were discussed out of journals and newspapers by every Tom, Dick and Harry.” That is when it was first used in 1657. You are trying to be more English than the English themselves.

    Learn Man, Learn before you talk. go to a university and learn !

  11. mjaya Says:

    Sri Lanka’s university system has to change for the better, no disagreement about that.

    I wonder how many of those FUTA big wigs on strike will ever get a good recommendation from none other than their students! I wonder how many of them have ever conducted a proper lecture and let alone taught so that at least 10% of the class understood what they were saying!

    I must say that in every university there are (very few) good academics who put the students first, teach so that a majority of the class can understand and help students to become the best they can be. Like the rare breed of doctors who treat the sick with compassion who get the blame when the GMOA calls for a strike at the expense of innocent patients, they too get a bad name because of those scoundrels of FUTA.

  12. mjaya Says:


    most of what you have said is true but there is one thing that should never be implemented. That is having ethnic adjusted quotas for universities. ABSOLUTELY NEVER!!

    It is true that the estate Tamils are underrepresented. The solution is to provide better school education with financial support so that they can face the competitive exam. The same should apply to rural Sinhalese as well.

    As for Muslims, its a different story, they have around 200 exclusive places in the South-Eastern University (the uni. where the Oluvil declaration was made!) for Islamic studies. Also they have plenty of exclusive support from Arab countries.

    University admission should be based upon MERIT so that anyone whether Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim can get in if they make the mark.

  13. Lorenzo Says:


    It is common parlance in certain western societies BUT NOT in SL (except for shanties).

    SL is better off without such money greedy pieces of dirt.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  14. Dham Says:

    Ranjit D,
    Pirunu Ka lay Diya Noselay !
    Ignore the Gonzelo , Gonzeka’s brother. He is a Zionist idiot who spread hatred. The Naked King of Lanka Web.

  15. Fran Diaz Says:

    Some points on this vast topic :

    With Globalisation, Lanka too is caught up in the world fiscal system. The SL Rupee is valued at Rs.131.06 per US$ and Rs.134.08 per UK Pound. Anyone working abroad and sending back home US$100 per month to their loved ones will be sending at least over Rs. 13,000 per month. This may be a lot of money for a lot of people, and thus the attraction to go abroad. So of course, it is tempting to work abroad. 3-5 yrs of compulsory Government service after gaining free education is a good idea.
    GoSL operates on the western system of taxation and re-distribution of wealth. Question : Who gets what part of the tax
    pie ? Shouldn’t a Questionnaire on Tax Spending be put out to the Voters at election time (along with the vote sheet), so that a Voter can number which categories should receive a high percentage on govt. spending ?

    Also, the western system demands that Time spent on a job be compensated with Money (Time is Money, or Time = Money) a system contrary to age old Asian value systems and idealism. From the teaching profession, doctors and some other professions, the public demand that they give more than just a straight service. Traditionally, people demand that mere “Time is Money” system cannot and should not apply to them. People involved in teaching, healing etc. must give more than ‘Time is Money’. They are expected to work with sincere Concern & Care, that people who come to them for help are looked after with ability, genuine concern, and with good ethics and morality. Politicos should fall into this category as well. Such are the expectations from the pubic anywhere in the world from some professions, and they ought not to be disappointed either. In return, Teachers, Doctors, etc. earn high Respect from the public.

    In view of all this, we suggest that :

    (1) We agree that a realistic living wage be paid to school teachers. Wages should be tied to the cost of living in Lanka. In fact, ALL government wage earners ought to have COL raises added in. If the COL additions already exist, it should be a more realistic figure.

    (1-A) Teachers performances ought to be evaluated by GoSL representatives.

    (2) Ask the STUDENTS how they like to learn. In USA, I have seen televised programs where High School level children were given actual real life problems as class room assignments. The children were in teams, and they went into high gear of creative thinking trying to solve the problems. Practical thinking to solve daily problems ought to be top of the list in teaching methods. Blind memorising should be discarded. Self learning should be encouraged with must read good school books.

    (3) School curricula should be geared to the needs of the Nation. Also, schools themselves should diversify subjects and gear up to classes to provide jobs outside the beaten tracks.
    Re University education: Getting an ordinary Arts Faculty degree is next to useless for a job. Much more emphasis should be laid on (apart from Science & Technology) Entrepreneurship, and Alternative Care in Medicine (Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Herbal healing (Ayurveda), Counselling, etc.), learning other languages, etc., boat building, fishing, agriculture, etc. If diverse courses leading to gainful employment are provided, the students will go for them.

    (4) Rural Education geared up to equal city schools.

  16. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:


    Concept of Teaching:-


  17. aloy Says:

    You have added your two cents worth on an important topic.

  18. Lorenzo Says:

    Dumb the Yakkason is adding his BS.


    Not only BS, also other stupidities too.

    Anyway Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  19. Lorenzo Says:

    Absuing a LW regular writer calling her BS, etc. is also an offense.

    Had this Dr Silva spoken to the topic I would not have cared.

  20. Lorenzo Says:

    I agree 100% with mjaya.

    Muslims and Tamils have their EXCLUSIVE MONO ETHNIC universities. The way they want it. Tamils include all Tamils. Why change the system to accomodate them more? Truth to be told, an UNINTELLIGENT proposal.

  21. mjaya Says:

    RanjithD, Lorenzo, Dham and others,

    Its true that we may have often highly divergent differences in opinion, but lets not forget that we are all on the same side. Anyone who is a Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, European (like Prof. Hudsan Macleen) Buddhist, Christian, Hindu etc. whose heart is for the betterment of our nation is a patriot. So lets not resort to in fighting.

    The first thing the Buddhist clergy did was unite Prince Dutugemunu and Prince Saddhathissa, lets not forget that!

    We should devote our energies for defeating the 13th Amendment, CEPA, the Indian cockroach invasion, abolishing the stercus tauri (:D) provincial councils, fighting rampant corruption, defeating Saudi terrorists in the making etc. etc.

    and I know that all of you will agree to this!

  22. Dilrook Says:


    My initial preference would be a merit system but the merit system failed very badly. For it to work, everyone should uphold fairness. It never happens. Disparity of unfairness is closely related to certain areas and groups. It is a very unfortunate situation. They think they deserve to cheat because they are in the Dry Zone! An absurd argument.

    Under a merit system, only fraudsters gain at the expense of honest students. It must be recalled that standardisation was introduced in 1973 partly because of widespread cheating by certain groups particularly from the north. JR Jayawardena with good intentions scrapped it. Again very large scale cheating started by the same group of people. After considering it, he reintroduced it. Genuine professionals from the north have confided with me the level of cheating that took place before mid 1970s and how it suddenly stopped with standardisation.

    However, it is happening today in certain schools in Colombo and Kandy districts with a certain ethnic group from the north that has exclusive schools in Colombo. I can name the schools where widespread cheating is happening and even encouraged by some invigilators and teachers. The current district standardisation scheme cannot prevent it. Police at the gates cannot prevent it.

    This is the reason why this particular ethnic group with only 13% of the population (1981 census), accounts for over 35% in medicine, engineering, computer science, etc. faculties at the expense of other ethnic groups (74%, 8%, 4%, 1% total 87%). UGC publishes ethnicity of students based on data collected from them which is manipulated by students. Language of A/L sitting of each selected student by faculty is not provided despite the Department of Examinations and UGC combined have this data.

    87% of the population has only 65% of university opportunities; 13% (or less) of the population has 35%.
    Similar to other demands of the same group.

    83% of the population to own only 63% of the landmass; 17% of the population to own 37% of the landmass under their homeland demand.

    83% of the population to own only 34% of the coastline; 17% of the population to own 66% of the coastline.
    75% to have only 50% parliamentary seats; 25% to have 50% parliamentary seats under the notorious 50%-50% demand.

    Sinhalese are the most discriminated group in universities, not just Muslims and Upcountry Tamils. This has huge national economic impacts because the urge to serve the nation is not shared by some ethnic groups, comparatively.

    Ethnicity based standardisation can be equitable to all. As tax is collected equitably from all, its benefits must be passed on to all equitably. It will be island-wide which means it will be fairer than now, for good performers wherever they are.

    For there to be lasting peace and justice, fairness must be established. Unfortunately, in a society with so many cheats, certain restrictions like standardisation must be enforced for equity and fairness.

  23. Vijendra Says:

    Reading through the main article and the responses from others, it appears that many have passionate ideas on how to solve the problem of education in SL. That is a great start. Since each individual is speaking from his or her own experience, all these ideas would invariably be very subjective. I believe none of the critics was a professional educationist. I wonder what a professional educationist would have to say about these ideas? As I am not a professional educationist, I can not comment. However, at the risk of adding to the subjectivity, I do have a few comments as a past graduate from and a past lecturer in a SL university who has also had higher education in western universities.

    One big difference one observes in the west is that universities in the west are generally autonomous and free from political interference. Professors have to undergo further and regular training while delivering on the curriculum set by the university. Their achievements in the form of valued outcomes are evaluated for promotions. All professors have to compete with one another to get funding for research and they have to deliver on the contracts signed, on time and on budget. They constantly collaborate with industry to innovate and further the knowledge base using the undergrads, post-grads and post-doctoral fellows as cheap, but highly motivated and talented labour.

    In SL, usually the person who tops the batch becomes an assistant lecturer, whether he or she has any teaching skills or any liking towards teaching. It’s looked at only as a permanent, well-paying and respected job. There is no training in teaching given to them ever. They have to learn from their own experience. Often this picture is even more complicated by personal favouritism of those in authority. If you are ok with the prof., generally you are safe, in spite of poor performance! So how can you expect the students to be innovative and bring forth new ideas and plans of action with such lecturers and professors? They can not even question anything as it is taken as either an insult or as a criticism. Professors use the same notes academic year after year with no new knowledge being added. Students have to depend almost entirely on the reproduction of the lecture notes at the exams. Some professors spend more time on furthering their political agendas and support for their political parties than on their students, in order to get rewarded with a government appointment where they would have more money and power or for other political influence. Even though it’s an important component to university learning, trade unions within the university keep students busy and away from their real task of reading for a degree.

    If the GOSL is interested in reviving the university education, imho, they should depoliticize the universities and give back the autonomy to universities. Universities must be held accountable and show valued outcomes of productivity, innovation, impact and recognition to deserve continued funding.

  24. shenali Says:

    We now live in a nation where,
    Doctors destroy Health
    Lawyers destroy Justice
    Universities destroy Knowledge
    Governments destroy Freedom
    The Press destroys Information
    Religion destroy Morals
    and our Banks destroy the Economy (Chris Hedges) ….. how true this is…

  25. Dham Says:

    It is an exaggeration.

    1. There are very good doctors.
    2. Lawyers are never there to provide justice.
    3. Completely wrong.
    4. Completely wrong. ( are you talking about USA ? , then yes.)
    5. Pratially true but there are good journist too.
    6. Not true for Buddhism.
    7. Is not the banks. It is those powerful individuals behind the banks. Yes, all Zionist are bankers who control people.

  26. Fran Diaz Says:

    Let’s not give up the struggle to bring in a good Education system for Sri Lanka.

    On the nasty subject of Cheating at exams :

    First and foremost, anyone who cheats at exams will find themselves at sea in the real world of employment. Such folk will never be able to do a proper job of work whether as a doctor, engineer or any other professional, and will be removed from the workplace sooner or later. In schools & Unis, teachers & lecturers who are caught at helping students to cheat must be exposed & sacked. Such severe punishment should act as a deterrent.

    Cheating at exams is self defeating. Also, if diverse courses are offered at Unis, then students may drift into subjects better suited to their abilities rather than desperately seek to pass in subjects they have no aptitude for or interest.

    All the focus on cheating brings to mind that even eminent persons such as Prof Mylvaganam (OBE) of the Colombo University (Sc.Fac), was known (well known) to help students from the Northern areas cheat at exams. Also, it was known that the ‘Om’ sign was put at the corner of the answer sheets at exams to enable northern students to be identified and marked up by lecturers favoring such students. I am deliberately bringing out these well known facts so that the cheaters will know that they will be found out and exposed, sooner or later, with loss of respect to the entire community who appear to excel in cheating, thus defeating the objective of gaining respect via academic excellence.

    Re the Northern students being desperate re their passing exams, it has a lot to do with the Caste/Class/jobs situation in the North. Some sort of Uni degree is considered the great eraser of Caste among the northerners of low caste. Proving that northerners are more “clever” than the southerners was also important to the northern leaders. So the deadly mix of northern political encouraged cheating. Now that there are more northerners in the south than in the north, this type of tomfoolery will be discarded ?

    Another matter to examine is to have govt. schools of mixed ethnicity as is done in the Universities.

    Being loyal to the country that nurtures us is paramount and that factor must be taught/emphasized in schools and homes. Not to Cheat is a form of loyalty to the country. To this end, an Oath of Allegiance must be introduced prior to starting a day in school or at work, at least once or twice a week. Toward a goal of building “Trust & Happiness in Unity” should be our aim. Whilst we may never have human perfection, we can tend toward such a worthy goal.

  27. mjaya Says:

    Dilrook, I agree with you that serious cheating takes place in the places you have mentioned. Back in the days of the LTTE it was an open secret. But again the solution is not to standardize university entry based upon ethnicity.

    The solution is to be tougher on cheating. Mixing the ethnicities during exams is a viable solution. Students from private schools are always assigned to examination centers in government schools. So why not do the same by assigning them to exam centers in majority Sinhalese schools? Papers should also be examined for the ‘OM’ sign.

    If in one year a whole bunch of students have their results suspended, they will scream ‘discrimination’ to the world but later on think twice before cheating in the future.

    Nevertheless, as Fran has pointed out, people who cheat in exams often fare pretty badly in the real world. For me their biggest crime is depriving someone else of an opportunity.

  28. Dilrook Says:

    Fran and MJaya,

    Cheating cannot be reduced by mixing students primarily because it cannot be done in Tamil majority districts of Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mulaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya and Kilinochchi as it would displace a large number of students. Even in Colombo and Kandy it is very difficult to do.

    The practice of “hinting” they belong to a certain group to the examiner cannot be controlled. Even if the word “om” is found out, they will resort to other practices. “Om” is a religious word and therefore no one can be forced not to use it.

    Cheaters end up in underemployment or unemployed eventutally. But by then they have spoilt the chances for honest students and wasted billions of rupees.

    Only ethnicity based standardisation can solve this problem. It cannot eliminate cheating completely but it can contain the damage without disadvantaging the others. If introduced, a movement from the Tamil community will handle it as it disadvantages other Tamils.

    Justification of cheated results is even more disgusting. Cheaters claim they are more intelligent than the rest!

    This is in addition to the concept of equity and fairness for all ethnic groups.

    However, I agree that one day when cheating reduces (not when all ethnic groups equally cheat!) this can be changed.

    Even the parliament has equitable representation of ethnic groups (Sinhalese 74%, Tamils 18%, Muslims 8%) as per the last published census of 1981. If new data is factored into the PR system, it will accordingly ensure a fair share for all groups. In other words, even elections (that are said to be frauds) are more equitable than GCE A/L.

  29. Dham Says:

    Law and Order is the answer for cheating.

    For students – If you cheat and get caught – no exam for 5 years.
    markers – go to jail for five years.

    You catch one and implement it fully. You catch the 2nd one and implement fully. It will stop.

    I know for sure how a Tamil lecturer ( external one) set his questions impossible to answer and passed answers to Tamil student. If a complain system was there, this bugger could have been jailed and the students out of work for 5 years.

  30. chandrasena Pandithage Says:

    මෙම මතෘකාව ඉතා වැදගත් කාලෝචිත මාතෘකාවකි. මංගල සූත්‍රයට අනුව කාලේන ධම්ම සාකච්ඡා ඒතං මංගල මුත්තමං යන පාටය යටතේ මේ සාකච්ඡා වෙන්නේ කාලයට ඔබින ධර්මානුකූල සාකච්ඡාවකි. සාකච්ඡාව තුල විවිධ මත ගැටිය යුත් අතර, ඒ මත ගැටීම මනාව මේ මාතෘකාව යටතේ අඛණ්ඩව සිදුවෙමින් ගලා යයි. shenali තමන්ගේ මනසින් දුටු දේ සමාජයට ඉදිරිපත් කර ඇත. shenali ඉදිරිපත් කල ඒ දේ සම්බන්ධව විද්වතුන් රාශියක් විවිධ මත පල කරමින් සිය අදහස්ද ඉදිරිපත් කර ඇත. මේ සියළු දෙනාම සාකච්ඡා කරමින් සිටින්නේ ජාතික වැදගත් කමකින් යුත් ප්‍රබල මාතෘකාවක් සම්බන්ධවයි. මෙරට සැබෑ දේශපාලන මණ්ඩලයක් ඇත්නම් මෙරට මැති ඇමතිවරුන් සියල්ලක්ම අවංකත්වයට සමවැදී මේ බාරදූර ජාතික ප්‍රශ්නය විසදීමට දිවා රෑ නොබලා සාකච්ඡානර සුපැහැදිලි විසදුමක් ඉදිරිපත් කලයුතුවූ ප්‍රබල ප්‍රශ්නයක් සම්බන්ධව එවැනි කතිකාවක් සිදුනොවන වකවානුවක, මේ වෙබ් අඩවිය තුල ඒ කතිකාව මේ මාතෘකාව යටතේ ආරම්භව ගලා යන එකත් විශාල පුණ්‍යකර්මයකි. මේ කතිකාව හරහා මෙරට ට අවශ්‍ය ඉතා වැදගත් අප කලකට ඉහතදී මෙරටට අවශ්‍යයයි යෝජනා කල අන්තර්ජාලීය පාර්ලිමේන්තුවක ස්වරූපය පැහැදිලිව දිස්වේ. අපි අවංකව එකතු වී මේ කතිකාව මෙතනින් නැවතීමට ඉඩ නොතබා පැහැදිලි විසදුමක් ඉදිරිපත් කරන කඩඉම දක්වා ගෙනයමු. ඉල්ලය මෙරට දූ දරුවන්ගේ අධ්‍යපනය රැකගෙන කාලයහි අගය වටහා ගනිමින් මේ සිදුවෙන ජාතික අපරාධය නවතාලීමයි. අපි හැම දෙනම එකතුව විසදුමක් සොයමු. ඒ සම්බන්ධව කථා කරමු. එය මෙරට ජනතාවටට ඉදිරිපත් කර පුළුල් සාකච්ඡාවකට බාජනය කරමු. අවසානයේචී නිවැරදි මගක් අනුගමනය කරමු

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