The fate of university teachers in Sri Lanka
university students, we respected our teachers and we
hoped that some day we would be as learned as they were.
We looked up to particular lecturers not only because of
their knowledge of the subject they taught us or their
ability to teach, but sometimes because of their
open-mindedness - how they discussed ideas or provoked
us by getting us to think.
many different reasons, we had our favourites. We liked
them when they were approachable and 'cool.' But we also
had tremendous regard for the conscientious,
conventional 'saree-wearing' teacher. We also liked
lecturers who were different from the others, innovative
in their teaching methods, creative in their thinking,
original in their dress or eccentric in their ways.
knew and admired those who had their works published in
renowned journals, or authored books that were
recognised internationally. The most popular were
lecturers who were passionate about their research and
other involvements outside the university as the wealth
of knowledge they gained from these were shared with us
in the classroom, making the lectures more interesting
and thought provoking.
walking past the Faculty Club, we often overheard
laughter, frequent arguments mostly about the state of
the country and jokes about politicians. Usually, the
lecturers in there were those who also represented the
university at conferences in and outside the country,
articulated ideas in the media or openly and fearlessly,
could critique government policy decisions.
university provided space where diversity and pluralism
were acceptable and even encouraged and space given for
dissent and debate.
the situation is not quite the same today. Teaching has
been affected to some extent. In some universities,
previously popular courses are no longer offered, or
have been modified if they dealt with so-called
'sensitive' issues and programmes put on hold. Lecturers
involved in initiating/designing/teaching in such
courses/programmes or collaborating with universities
overseas are being directly or indirectly victimised.
have been removed from decision making positions within
the university system, are not considered for
promotions, or are ridiculed, leaving them with options
such as resigning from the university or from the
positions of power they previously held, taking
sabbatical leave or simply lying low.
Visiting scholars are perceived as spies working for the
international community to denounce government
initiatives. Jealousies are also there amongst
academics, for whatever said and done, the smarter
lecturers are recognised locally and internationally. It
is they who earn the awards, fellowships, scholarships
that enable them to establish links with other academic
institutions and return with fresh ideas to develop
those new "dangerous" courses and teach in a
"confrontational" manner that would rock the
also they who are invited to serve on boards, to
undertake research and offered consultancies. But the
university does not value their contribution.
Research commissioned from outside institutions is
perceived as money making activities or a suspicious
collaboration with international agencies, rather than
eventually benefiting the university and students. In
addition, particular areas of research (i.e conflict,
rehabilitation, violence, IDPs, etc.) are considered
threatening as they may expose failures of, or critique
Incidentally, unlike in the good old days when academics
could survive on their salaries, lecturers often have no
option but to accept consultancies. True, lecturers are
better off than many, but the fact of the matter is that
salaries have remained more or less the same (Rs. 52,000
per month take home salary of a Senior Lecturer) for at
least five to six years! After paying off house rent (Rs.
10,000), other bills (Rs. 17,000), children's school
fees (Rs. 6000 x 2), petrol (Rs. 10,000), gas (Rs. 500),
food (Rs. 15,000) etc. there is hardly any money left
for medical expenses, books, extra-curricular activities
of children, outings, gifts or clothes.
Today, lecturers who earn an additional income through
consultancies/research are perceived as neglecting their
duties at the university by resorting to underhand
activities, when most often, these activities eventually
consolation for me is that my university has not awarded
PhDs to politicians... but I am also convinced that it
is only a matter of time before all universities do the
Obviously, I want to remain anonymous. That is the only
way to stay employed or even alive ... since lecturers
are silenced if they dare to voice an opinion or
dissent. I long for those days when teachers could say,
do, wear anything and were respected only for their
ideas and intellect. I shall remember those days with
Dr. Not So Happy
Hats off to DIG Mediwaka and the Homagama Police
speedy action taken by the Homagama Police on the
instructions of DIG (Ranges 3) Nimal Mediwaka to recover
my stolen gold jewellery within 24 hours is truly
realising that my house had been burgled and all my gold
jewellery stolen, I immediately telephoned DIG Mediwaka
and the Homagama Police for their assistance to trace
the culprits and also recover my jewellery.
was on Tuesday, September 8. Thereafter things started
moving at lightning speed and my jewellery was recovered
within 24 hours. Since the police always receive
brickbats than bouquets and words of encouragement, I am
writing of my experience for the information of the
ever grateful for the quick response I received from
both the DIG and the HQI Homagama.
informed DIG Mediwaka of my loss I was asked to lodge a
complaint at the Homagama Police and on the kind
intervention of DIG Mediwaka a special police team
headed by the Homagama HQI, Chief Inspector G.J. Nandana
and OIC (Crimes), SI Susil Raymond was deployed for
immediate action to trace the thieves.
few minutes after my complaint, the Homagama Police
swiftly started their investigation process preventing
the thieves from disposing of the stolen jewellery. On
the instructions of OIC Crimes, officers of the Police
Finger Print Bureau and a special team visited my
residence within a few hours of the crime to take
fingerprints and also conduct other investigations. The
keen interest taken by the police to crack this crime is
could without any hesitation say that if not for the
dedication of the Homagama Police, I would never have
got back my jewellery. The many follow up visits by the
Homagama Police to my residence after the crime perhaps
gave jitters to the culprits and prevented them from
trying to dispose the jewellery.
time when the entire Police Department is blamed for the
fault of a handful of officers a bouquet of flowers
would not be enough to praise the team at Homagama, and
my special thanks go out to DIG Nimal Mediwaka, the
Homagama HQI and IOC Crimes for a job well-done.
Unauthorised deduction of Rs. 50 from pensioners
Director General of Pensions (DGP) had Rs. 50 deducted
from the February 2009 pension of the pensioners,
illegally, to construct a 'holiday home' for the
pensioners which the present day pensioners will never
be able to use.
Director General of Pensions had no right to get such a
deduction made from the pensioners without their
individual consent. The DGP, has contravened
administrative and financial regulations and has
breached public service discipline.
significant that certain Divisional Secretaries had
declined to carry out the DGP's instructions, correctly
so, and the deductions have not been made from all
letter dated February 13, addressed to the Director
General of Pensions and copied to the Accountant,
Pensions Branch, Divisional Secretariat, I requested a
refund. Despite several reminders, and with the Public
Administration Ministry deciding that the Rs. 50 should
be refunded, no refund has been made up to date. Is
that not high handed action on the part of the DGP?
addressed the Minister of Public Administration and Home
Affairs by letter dated August 12, requesting that I be
informed as to how I could ensure a refund of the
amount. So far even the receipt of the letter has not
been acknowledged. What an example set by the very
Ministry heading the public service.
now understood that the Director General of Pensions has
decided to credit the unauthorised collection from the
pensioners to the National Defence Fund and has
instructed the Divisional Secretaries to obtain the
consent of each pensioner for the purpose. Those who
object will have the Rs. 50 refunded. However, no such
communication has been received by the pensioners to
right has the Director General of Pensions to take a
decision in respect of the National Defence Fund,
meddling with other people's money? It needs being
pointed out that the pensioners have voluntarily
contributed to projects, in cash and kind to help the
IDPs and the armed forces and what the DGP has done
amounts to highway robbery.
amount deducted from each pensioner may be small but the
principle involved and the irregularity committed by the
DGP are too serious to go without correction and
punishment. I would, in the circumstances, suggest that
as a deterrent, the DGP be removed from the post with
immediate effect and sent to the 'pool' prior to being
sent on compulsory retirement after inquiry. We
pensioners are eagerly waiting with open arms to welcome
the DGP into our fold.
Upali S. Jayasekera
Religious leaders, societies, organisations and social
groups far from being a help to spiritual development
are only proving to be a hindrance.
However lofty and pure the ideals in which religions
were founded they have a natural tendency to degenerate
in the hands of selfish individuals. It becomes an
instrument in their hands for acquisition of wealth,
position, power and fame. It is used sometimes as a
political ladder by unscrupulous persons to gain
political influence and thereby wealth and luxurious
currents generated by these people are very powerful
that it would be suicidal to try to swim against them.
This state of affairs is known to many intelligent
people but they are silent because they do not want to
get unnecessarily involved in controversies.
However there is a solution to this problem. Instead of
trying to work with them or against them, one should
follow the example set by Lord Buddha, and sever with
one stroke our connection with the incorrigible
hypocrisy that exists today in the name of religion.
Whether young baby elephants live or die is no concern
for our religious leaders. They are after more important
things. They have no time to pay attention to baby
religious leaders today are like monkeys sitting on a
treasure, the value of which they don't understand. It
is not dogma they understand, but only rupees and cents.
A crying shame!
article "Weeping widows of the BoC" appeared in this
esteemed journal nearly four months ago. But there
hasn't been a whimper from the hierarchy of the Bank of
Ceylon. Either they are suffering from perpetual
dementia or care a damn!
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has asked for an
increase of her pension. So is it a sin for the bank's
widows to ask for more?
has happened to the bank's billions? Has it gone the
"Golden Key" way or the "Shri Ram" way?
there is no alternative but to appeal to our fair minded
President Mahinda Rajapakse to give the "Bankers to the
nation" a wake up call.
R. Ilakunathan, for BoC Widows
Archbishop and GSP +
Archbishop of Colombo, Dr. Malcolm Ranjit has appealed
to the European leaders to restore GSP+ and other
benefits to Sri Lanka. Very good. The people will surely
stand to benefit.
Archbishop Malcolm Ranjit also ask the President to
release at least 100,000 of the IDPs suffering in the
camps each month, until all of them have been sent home?
Is the Archbishop satisfied that the President is not
keeping the 300,000 IDPs in their camps under very
trying conditions purely for his political purposes?
also ask the President not to violate the Constitution
and to appoint the Constitutional Council, which even
the Supreme Court has asked him to do which he is
rights of our people are guaranteed under the 17th
Amendment to the Constitution. Can the Archbishop please
ask the President to give the people their democratic
rights? Does not the Archbishop realise he is treading
on dangerous ground?
D. M. Perera