Bhikku undergrads protest in Fort against Free Education Zones


by Dasun Edirisinghe

A section of the protesting monks
Pic by Sujatha Jayaratne

The JVP affiliated Inter-University Bhikku Federation (IUBF) yesterday protested opposite the Fort Railway Station against setting up of ‘Free Education Zones’ in Sri Lanka to facilitate private investors in the education sector.

Convener of the IUBF, Kimbullewe Chandananda Thera said that the protest had ended peacefully and they would take it to the other parts of the country.

The present government had started the privatisation of education with a new approach different from what former UNP governments did from 1977, but their attempts, too, would be defeated, the Thera said, adding that they had also held a seminar at the public library auditorium as part of the agitation.

"Setting up of Free Education Zones here is similar to the introduction of free trade zones under the 1977 UNP government," Chandananda Thera said.

The government had, the Thera said, already planned to set up the first zone in Mirigama in the Gampaha District.

The proposed zones would be set up in five districts under a loan of USD 40 million from the World Bank, according to government sources, the student monk said.

Like casino tycoons, the private sector investors who set up their education institutions in the proposed zones, too, would enjoy special tax, land and loan facilities, the Thera said.

He said that extra funds for the project were scheduled to be allocated from the Budget 2014 to be presented to Parliament next month.

"Bhikkus and other students have sacrificed their lives in the past to protect the free education system of the country," Chandananda thera said, vowing that they would continue the protest until the government project was abandoned.


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