Leadership Programme Postponed
By Dinouk Colombage
The controversial leadership programme that was implemented last year by the Ministry of Higher Education has been postponed this year due to a case pending before the courts.
Additional Secretary of the Higher Education Ministry, P. G. Jayasinghe, said that a date for the resumption of the course would be set once the case is resolved.
Despite wide scale protests having dominated the lead up to last year’s leadership programme a collection of university students who had participated expressed to The Sunday Leader their appreciation of the training.
Sajith Bandara, participant at Boosa Camp in Galle, explained how he had been apprehensive about the programme before it started. However Bandara admitted that the programme ended up being highly beneficial as they “learnt to become more independent and to do things for ourselves”.
Prior to the programme many people criticised the government claiming that this was a thinly disguised military training course.
Despite the programmes being conducted at military camps the Minister of Higher Education, S. B. Dissanayake, had insisted that all lectures would be conducted by the lecturers from the local universities. Uween Jayasinha, participant at the General Sir John Kothlawala Defense Academy, supported these claims previously made by the Minister expressing his appreciation of the lecturers. Jayasinha added that while “the lectures in medicine, etiquette, cleanliness and basic law were very beneficial, it was the advice they gave us on how to face up to ragging that was greatly welcome”.
He also drew attention to the fact that the course helped students who were initially shy claiming that “there was a visible change in their demeanor”. Sushmitha Thayanandan, participant at the National Cadet Corps in Kandy, explained that she enjoyed her time at the training course and made a lot of friends from different areas in the country.
She did admit that the physical training was difficult for her, but overall the experience was one which she thoroughly enjoyed.
While all the students expressed their overall satisfaction with the course, there were complaints regarding the living conditions. Jayasinghe told The Sunday Leader that these issues would be looked into and whatever problems that are found would be dealt with. The Inter-University Student Federation (IUSF) led the charge last year criticising the government’s decision to make the training programme compulsory to all university entrants. However, ever since the successful completion of its first year, the federation has been silent on the topic. IUSF Convener, Sanjeewa Bandara, refused to comment on the training programme.