University dons signal  restart of agitation

By Dasun Edirisinghe

FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri addresses yesterday’s media briefing at the Colombo University. He is flanked by FUTA Assistant Secretary Dr. Harini Amarasuriya and Vice President of the Open University Teachers’ Association B. D. Witharana . Pic by Nimal Dayaratne

University teachers yesterday warned that they would have to resume their agitation for more funds for the education sector, claiming that the entire sector was in a mess.

 Addressing a media briefing at the Colombo University, President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri said that they would hold a massive public rally in Colombo, on April 02, as the first step towards preparung the general public for a common battle to protect the free education system.

 He said that their main demand, when launching last year’s strike, was for the allocation of six per cent of the GDP for education and it still remained. FUTA had already started to make university teachers aware about re-starting the agitation, he aded.

 "A recent incident where a schoolgirl in Horana was charged with stealing eight coconuts, reportedly to pay her contribution towards colour washing of her school, was a clear example of the present crisis in the education sector,"

Dr. Dewasiri said.

He said that while that incident exposed the cruelties of an ineffective juvenile justice system, it also laid bare the stark reality of ‘free education’ in the country.

 As the FUTA had repeatedly pointed out, the state was gradually disowning its responsibility in providing the service of education and is asking children and families to accept the burden, Dr. Dewasiri said.

 He said schools routinely collected funds from parents for school expenses through school development committees and other means.

 "We demanded an increase in funding for state education, but the government increased ministers of education instead," Dr. Dewasiri said.

 He said the government failed to allocate 6% of the GDP to education but a huge portion of funds would go to maintain the newly appointed minister and his staff. 

The senior academic said that they could estimate the government’s attention to the education sector by the person who was appointed as the new education service minister.  

 For people and events

An exhibition of Catholic Eucharistic Miracles will be launched from St Lucis’s Cathedral with the participation of Rt Rev Dr.Emmanuel Fernando, Auxilliary Bishop of Colombo at 9.30 am on March 1.

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