The Sunday Leader

FUTA Will Courageously Defend The Rights Of The People

By Dr. Mahim Mendis

The members of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) appeal to the people to express solidarity with their national level trade union struggle demanding for 6% of the GDP on education since we need to protect state education and also collectively provide vital checks and balances to the process of governance in Sri Lanka. Academics need to ensure that public policy formulation in all sectors, not just education, will be influenced by them with their strong academic credentials. Also academics together with the clergy and other civil and political society leaders have a strong mandate to enlighten the people on all matters.
This we did convincingly through our historic public meeting at Hyde Park on 23rd August 2012, with eminent members of the trade union movement like Bala Tampoe and Most Venerable Madhuluwawe Sobhitha Thero addressing the people. FUTA watchers including those of the NIB know quite well about our capacity to mobilize people with short notice whether it be in Colombo, Rajarata, Jaffna or in Ruhuna. They also know that we cannot be silenced since top FUTA leaders are well known to millions of people here and abroad.
We of the FUTA believe that the onus is equally on the citizenry to hold their governments responsible for irresponsible utterances and actions of ministers and public officials. Ironically, it has now come to a stage where the people need to plead with those whom they elected that they be responsible as their humble servants. In Sri Lanka, the ‘Servants’ have become the ‘Masters’ and such a topsy-turvy situation needs to be reversed today and not tomorrow.
As stated by Bernard Shaw, “the people get the government they deserve”, and we know that the people do not deserve a political regime with a near total absence of democratic accountability whether it be on elections, rule of law and administration of justice, ethno-political crisis and the LLRC Recommendations, Human Rights, Petroleum, Power and Energy, Public Health or Education. On all these frontiers, international benchmarks have totally collapsed and you cannot be silent any more. No amount of Presidential Commissions will solve these problems either!!!
The academics of Sri Lanka have watched with extreme patience as to how the politicians as servants of the people behave by shamelessly prostituting the will of the people, crossing over from one side to another, proving abundantly to their masters, the people, that they do not care a damn for what the people think. They probably believe that they are sure of winning elections even by taking into custody the chief presidential candidate before the first proper electoral results are released. They also believe that current cabinet ministers should tie people to trees to discipline them as done by eminent Dr Mervyn De Silva, a topmost minister with international credentials.
The FUTA has proved to the people that Sri Lankan academics are not a docile community and will not allow this country to perish in broad daylight. We can only appeal to the President, in the way we would appeal to any leader in the future to be careful of those in government ranks who do not even respect the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.
To get back to the ongoing struggle of the FUTA, all what I need to state with an absolute seriousness of purpose is that we consider it our bounden duty towards the people of Sri Lanka to commit the government to the UN benchmarks on education. The Minister of Higher Education probably believes that we are now a part of an international conspiracy to display this benchmark of ‘6% of GDP on FUTA T-Shirts!!!’ Such is the level of thinking of these ministers at the helm, bringing shame to the President habitually and on a daily basis. After all it is not so long ago that they protested against the United Nations Organization with cabinet ministers fasting unto death in the UN compound, making the people of this country, an international laughing stock.
The FUTA struggle demonstra-tes that academics cannot be satisfied with 99% literacy at primary level of education, that Minister Bandula Gunawardene boasts abo-ut, and that too with half of the schools without proper lavatory facilities. We need to remind the President and the Cabinet of Ministers, that mere primary level literacy is absolutely inadequate to civilize the people, including those who wish to be politicians and academics.
Primary level literacy is mere ability to read and write letters and numbers,without putting the ‘thumb mark’ as a person’signature. Secondary level literacy is the ability to reproduce knowledge which has only reached a little more than half of the population. But academics are concerned about what would happen to this beautiful land of their birth if tertiary level literacy remains so low with approximately 15%. That number comes only when university education is combined with technical and vocational education, as pointed out by many. University education is university education and we look to the day the vast majority of people will graduate from universities, to indicate that we have a rational citizenry with independent thinking. Not Traitors and Patriots.
With primary level literacy we cannot prevent elected members from prostituting the will of the people either. Also, 90% literacy at primary level is not the achievement of the present regime and this was there when the minister himself was a student.
All what his ministry has done is to close down the schools that existed many years ago and mess up the entire education system including the examinations as seen in Z-Score Fiasco. This same minister claimed in Parliament this month that we are still better than the British Education System with regard to examination evaluations. So how can the Z-Score be a problem to this government?
Tertiary level literacy which is University Degree Level and above, enables a person to critically understand a message that is disseminated and provide an intellectual perspective of ones own.
It is for this that the country should be able to attract the best qualified men and women to serve the universities; a task that has become humanly impossible without internationally competitive salaries for those with top academic credentials. This is a demand that we made last year. In accepting an Interim Solution in July 2011, we only wanted the government to respect the recommendations on salaries made by their own Malik Ranasinghe and Jiffrey Committee in 2008. So, it is meaningless telling the people that we have been given 80% increase in salaries since their own benchmark is yet to be implemented while interim understandings have been blatantly disregarded.
This waste of time will further aggravate Brain Drain, leading to a total collapse of the educational and moral oder. Highways and harbours or no amount of economic development will make a country developed if the people remain ignorant and in chains. The work of Indian Nobel Laureate and Harvard Economist Amartya Sen should be read by those in government if economists in Sri Lanka are not taken seriously by this government.
It is not surprising that the political leadership at different levels cannot distinguish the difference between good and evil, with an ‘anything goes’ attitude.
In this country, those alleged to have committed multiple murders are allowed to go free, if they say they have forgotten all what happened, since those in government probably have no understanding of good and evil. If we point out what is evil, we would be treated as traitors in line with the dominant ideology.
The government should realize that there is no international conspiracy when we talk about our principal demand which is the UNESCO Benchmark of 6% of the GDP on education.
Also they should realize that if international benchmarks created by the United Nations are made a mockery, not only with regard to education, but also with regard to fundamental instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we certainly would mobilize all local, international and even extra-terrestrial forces to safeguard the future of this country. This is because, for academics the future direction of the Sri Lankan state is more important than the future of the present government or a future government.
Let all people unite in meeting the demands of the academic community, not only with regard to education but also in creating a just social, political, economic, cultural and moral order as stated clearly by the courageous monk, Venerable Madhuluwawe Sobhitha Thero in addressing thousands of people in pouring rain at Hyde Park Rally.

13 Comments for “FUTA Will Courageously Defend The Rights Of The People”

  1. P.L.J.B.Palipana


  2. kvn

    where are the parents? why arent they along with their kids on the street?, dont they understand this is very serious.cant they see that they are helping the Govt to ruin the future of their sons and daughters? UNITE, get together, show your dis-content. help the free education! No time to waste, if you are not part of the solution , then YOU are part of the Problem.

    • Rodney

      Parents will not join FUTA because it has ulterior motives. FUTA leaders are LTTE symperthiser who support to divide Sri Lanka.

  3. Danajya Amartunge

    Why don’t you FORM YOUR own political party under FUTA seek people’s mandate luanch proposed programe?
    In the interset of people of Sri lanka,you can workout long term natioanl-orinted policies for the country..An acdamic are important for country,but not anarchist type of advanturist having connecation elite, are rejected by people of this island.
    Since 1965 founadtion of JVP terroriast out-fit our all Universities since 1968 idelogecal dominated group of JVP anarchist- terrorist outfit.
    Sooner or later we have totally eliminated JVP and FSP of anarchist from Universities and our soil once and for all.
    JVP are undermine our national Education & economic developemnt and mislead large number of youth on MYTH OF SO-CALLED “SOCILAISM”.

    • ks

      What are the root courses such a terrorist outfit in this country ?? who are responsible for that?? so, any body must be looked for any kind of social issue with indefth mind but not a extremist emotional viwe.

  4. Upali Samarajeewa

    The day Sri Lankan academics, administrators and professionals learn to stand above the politicians and guide them as happening to a large extent in India, we would enter the forward march towards the knowledge hub. FUTA should be commented for taking the first step towards it. The pathway is not rosy or easy,yet it has to be opened

  5. The current strike by the FUTA seems to sabotage the education system in Sri Lanka and create a people struggle in order to unstable the country. This can be proved when look at the people who are leading this; the President of FTUA Dr. Dewasiri, spokesman Dr Mahin Mendis and supporters like Rev. Fr. Chikeara, Fee Media Moment are supporters of LTTE Tamil terrorists. They must be getting handsome payment from Tamil diaspora who are majority is pro-LTTE Terrorists fighting to keep their asylum seeking and refugee status in West and US. Mahin Mendis himself is a person who discredit the image of Sri Lanka in several occasion now outcry about human right and fairness. This attitude of FUTA leadership clearly shows that they are dancing to tune of their NGO paymasters to discredit image of Sri Lankan in the international forum. He is threatening to bring international force for their so called struggle proves this factor.
    Government and mindful other university academics and people should not trap with so call campaign taking by FTUA to sake developing of education in Sri Lanka. They are working to damage the image of Sri Lanka and working for their personal gain and give a life to LTTE by reducing the national defence budget which is a demand of proxy LTTE political party TNA .
    These so called FUTA academics have been caught leaking exam papers to their blue eyed boys and girls. Some were caught stealing microscopes from the very faculty they work. Some were caught fixing video cameras in girls’ toilets. Hard disks of the university computers have made one way journeys to the homes of academics. Many ‘academics’ were found guilty of using their research grant money to buy furniture and build houses. Many have produced documents little better than toilet paper in order to secure promotions and professorships. In one instance a ‘preliminary’ study was submitted to secure professorial points! These sort of academics are now crying to safe guard the education.

    • P.L.J.B.Palipana

      Mohotti Udayan I reject 100% your comment. This problem has no relationship with the LTTE or the DIASPORA.

  6. Academics were the back bone of great civilizations including the current developed countries. Only in Sri Lanka ever since we got independence we did not sufficiently utilized them to develop our country all due to poor thinking of the politicians. Now is the time to make them understand the value of academics and education by educators like Rev.Sobhitha Thero.

    • P.L.J.B.Palipana

      Within this present situation of political interference in the university system we can’t see new Ediriweera Sarathchandras in near future.Very sad indeed!!

      • P.L.J.B.Palipana

        “The key to achieving modernization is the development of science and technology. And unless we pay special attention to education,it will be impossible to develop science and technology. Empty talk will get our modernization programme nowhere;we must have knowledge and trained personnel….Now it appears that China is fully 20 years behind the developed countries in science,technology and education’.
        DENG XIAOPING-1976

  7. Hewa

    @ Dr. MM

    I have extracted the following comments from an article written by your colleage Mahendra Gunawardena ( Head of Dept. of Microbiology, Uni. of Kelaniya) which appeared on DBS’s website on 25AUG12.

    We would like to hear your comments/response. Are these true?.Is it correct that you are asking fthe Govt. to pay fees so that you can send your children to International schools?.Please be precoise to the point.


    6% of GDP on education:

    The Gross Domestic Product of a country is the total market value of all the products and services produced in the country within a year. The FUTA demands that the government must spend a 6% of the GDP on education.

    According to recent statistics, the government income is about 14% of the GDP while the government expenditure amounts up to about 24% of the GDP.

    A 6% of GDP is therefore exceeds 40% of the government income. It is also about one fourth of the total expenditure. If one fourth is to be spent on education, only three fourth would be left to spend on all the other things, including health, agriculture, salaries, pensions, etc. and for development activities. The reader will immediately realize the difficulty in allocating a good one fourth of expenditure on education
    As we have been given extraordinary salary increases during the 2011-2012 years, the priority in pay hikes should now be given to employees of other sectors. I reach that decision as a supposedly educated employee who must thus have a holistic view on the country, its economy and the people. That is another reason for me not to join demanding a pay hike for university lecturers at this juncture.

    The FUTA asks for allowances to give private-school education for their children and also to keep their children in fee-levying hostels. I have the self-esteem not to be a part of such wicked demands, which would infuriate the general public if they come to know.
    Decision making in the university sector and political interference:

    Some people may not know the fact that all the decisions in the university education are taken by nobody else but university academics. The Vice Chancellor who administers the university, the Deans of the Faculties and Heads of the Departments are university lecturers by profession. In a university, there are various decision making bodies of widest possible participation such as curriculum development committees, boards of studies, faculty boards, the senate and the council and they all are composed of nobody else but university lecturers. Above a university there is this governing body called the University Grants Commission. Who are the decision making officials at the UGC? They are university lectureSo, it is very wrong to say that there is any influence of decision making, other than that of the university lecturers themselves.

    • P.L.J.B.Palipana

      Thanks Hewa! I want the answers to the following simple questions briefly.
      1. How much the Regime spent for the in-mature and unproductive elections following the 2005 presidential election?
      2.What is the Need and the benefit to maintain a huge quantity of Ministers and deputy ministers?
      3. What were the costs associated for the Foreign trips of the Hon.President with huge unneccassary Teams.
      4.How much spent for the Common Wealth Game carniwal and if won what may be the mode of funding that event?
      5.How much spent to celebrate Indian Film Festivals?

      To name only few and who bares the associated costs?
      I am not speaking the essence of the highly corrupted construction projects including the provincial and municipal level.
      If MR could manage those Financial resources the 6% is a very easy task.

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