The Sunday Leader

SB’s Son In The QAAC

As Minister of Higher Education, S. B. Dissanayake appointed his elder son Narada Dissanayake as the Administrative Secretary of the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee (QAAC), many education unions expressed their concern over the appointment.

The QAAC is a committee set under the Ministry of Higher Education to maintain the standards of the degree programmes offered by the non-state institutes in the country and therefore the unions are concerned that it is another step taken by the Minister of Higher Education to act on his whims and fancies to promote private universities in the country with the assistance of his son. Even though the Ministry of Higher Education claims that the position is merely a voluntary position with no decision making powers, many seem to think that Narada Dissanayake will gradually climb the ladder and will soon be in a position to make decisions in the committee.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, several education unions and educationalists expressed their concern over the appointment of Nadara Dissanayake while the Ministry of Higher Education defended the appointment.

 

Dambara Amila Thero

Spokesperson of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA)
It is highly inappropriate to appoint such a person as S. B. Dissanayake’s son as the secretary of the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee that is said to maintain the quality of private universities. He is not suitable for the post, not because he is S.B. Dissanayake’s son but because he does not have the required qualifications.

When there are matured and well experienced professionals in the field, he clearly doesn’t hold a chance for the post given to him. On the other hand, we are anyway against the concept of private universities in the country and if at all the government is letting the private sector to establish private universities, it has to be done after strengthening the state universities.

We have sent a letter to the Ministry of Education protesting against their conduct. What is important is not to throw S. B. Dissanayake’s son out of the post but to protest against the private universities.
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Eran Wickramaratne MP, United National Party

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) of India is a highly respected institution. Its members are academics with distinction. The chairman is selected from a very competitive field of academics.

The present chairman resigned his position as a vice chancellor of a university to become the chairman of the NAAC. When members are appointed to bodies that have responsibility for assessment and standards they should have qualifications and long experience. Does the country lack former VC’s, returning academics from overseas and other distinguished personalities with a long record in education who can fulfill these roles?

The UNP has been of the view that suitable people should be appointed to positions of responsibility whether as commissioners, directors or chairpersons of authorities, government corporations or educational institutions.

Fit and proper persons should have the necessary qualifications, experience and be persons of integrity.

A look at the biographies of the Australian governments Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) shows the distinguished and long experience required for those engaging in assessing and setting quality standards in education.

Sri Lanka will be poorer for appointing individuals who do not have the background for these positions. It is also a slap in the face of those who are qualified but not considered.

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Udaya Gammanpila Secretary of the Jathika Hela Urumaya

We have a common stand against any kind of appointment done based on political influences of MPs and Ministers to get their sons and daughters into good positions.

However, being a son or a daughter of a minister or MP should neither be a qualification nor a disqualification to be appointed into any position.

The selection should depend on their qualifications but not on influences made by their fathers.

I personally do not know whether Narada Dissanayake is qualified or not to be appointed to the committee as the secretary.

The criticism needs to be made depending on whether or not he has obtained the required qualification to be in that position.

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Joseph Stalin General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU)

We are extremely unhappy with the government for appointing a person who is not suitable for the position.

Even though the appointment is done through the Higher Education Ministry, the government should take complete responsibility for the decision.

It is highly unethical for the Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake to appoint his own son disregarding all the qualified and experienced people who are more suitable for the post. S. B. Dissanayake, being one of the pro-private education campaigners, is probably trying to establish private universities in the country through the assistance of his son, as he might not be able to work according to his whims and fancies if someone else was appointed to the position.

He seems to be playing with the education system as if it is one of his private owned properties.

We are ready to join hands with all the unions who are ready to protest against these kind of misdoings set to ruin the education system in the country.

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Mahinda Jayasinghe General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Services Union

From preschool to university, the education in the country should be free and therefore we are strongly against establishing private universities.

The government appointing S. B. Dissanayake as the Minister of Higher Education itself clearly have proven that they have all the blessings and consultations of the government to establish private universities in the country.

Now he has appointed his son to the committee that is supposed to maintain the quality of private education.

Earlier private institutes needed to obtain an approval from the relevant state professional bodies in order to issue professional qualifications, which however, is made unnecessary by the new amendment.

The government should get rid of any gazette that attempts to abolish free education in the country.

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Najith Indika Convenor of the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF)

Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee was introduced through a gazette last year and we showed our objection to this committee at the very beginning. The purpose of the committee is to maintain the quality of the degree provided by the private education institutes. When it is private, the focus is always on profit and thus one cannot assure the quality if the concept is to sell education.

If anybody had any hope for quality assurance of private education in the country through such a committee, now the appointment of S. B. Dissanayake’s son will come as a disappointment.

There is no point in protesting against the appointment. The solution is not to remove S. B. Dissanayake’s son as someone else will replace him. The existence of the whole committee is wrong. The Amendment to the 31st clause of the university act through the gazette issued in 2013 has given liberty for private education institutes to provide professional certificates without the approval of the particular professional body of the country.

Thus step by step, they are privatizing the education system. They are in a process of selling state university education too. Five per cent of the entrance for medical degree in the state universities are being sold at Rs. 8 million. We are strongly against selling education. Within the coming week, we will take measures to take action against the gazette until they scrap it.

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Nalinda Jayathissa JVP Central Committee Member

S. B. Dissanayake has always been pro establishing private universities. No 16 of the 1978 University Act was a barrier for him to fulfill all his wishes. Therefore he tried to change the Act completely in favour of private universities. However JVP and education unions protested against it.

Then they came up with various other amendments and the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee is a result of one such amendment. Finally he managed to appoint his son to the committee because he could not act according to all his wishes with the other members of the administration. His son is also a product of private education who has received his degree from a foreign university.

However the point is he does not have the required qualifications to be appointed to the position. Besides, several years back Narada Dissanayake made a huge public drama under the influence of liquor proving himself not capable of taking any decisions related to the quality of education.

This is not only about appointing Narada as the secretary of the committee but our protest is against the committee. We need to make the public aware of the gravity of these circumstances and expedite the process to act against these forces who are trying to abolish free education in the country and bring down the education system.
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Nandimitra Ekanayake Deputy Minister of Higher Education

I am not very much aware of the appointment of Narada Dissanayake.

However, there is nothing much to say about it. He was probably appointed to the post because he had the required qualifications for that.

Unless he had the qualifications he wouldn’t have been appointed. I think it was the minister who appointed Narada for the post.

However I am not quite sure about the procedure that they carried out to make the appointment and therefore I cannot say much.

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Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education

Narada Dissanayake is being appointed as an administrative secretary of the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee (QAAC). His job function is to deal with administrative activities, which is almost a clerical position that can be performed by a clerk and therefore the post does not require lot of qualifications. He has no decision making powers.

I chair the committee that consists of four more members that include Prof. Ranjith Senarathne, Prof. Rohana Rajapaksa, Dr. R. M. K Rathnayake and Additional Secretary Douglus Nanayakkara.

We also have two review panels under the QAAC – Institutional Review Panel and Subject Review Panel – with decision making powers.

Those two panels consist of experts in the field, who review the institutes and the subjects before approving the degree programmes offered by non-state institutes. Narada as the administrative secretary has no powers to get involved in the decisions. Besides it is a voluntary post.

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Prof Kshenika Hiriburegama Chairperson of the University Grants Commission

I am currently not in a position to make a comment on Narada Dissanayake being appointed as the secretary of the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee that is set to maintain the quality of the degree programmes offered by private institutes.

University Grants Commission is only responsible of the decisions related to 15 State Universities whereas private universities fall under the Higher Education Ministry and therefore we do not have anything to do with the appointment.

5 Comments for “SB’s Son In The QAAC”

  1. bruce

    Elder son sounds like he has a 90 year old son

  2. Daya

    Appointments such as these is one of the calamities of the country. These politicians do not have any self respect or standards. A man who was a terrible disgrace with many night club brawls and disgraced behaviour is now going to be the man monitoring Quality of Education. Similarly the govt. appointed and man who tied another man as the minister of public relations and a drug lord as the monitoring minister of Defence who is accused of killing. These are the standards of govt. and the country. Every govt. department is running at a loss of such family and henchman appointments and the people in the country will suffer eternally.

    • tony

      WILL THE MASSES THINK “ITS TIME TO CHANGE” OR REELECT THESE SHAMELESS AND SUBSTANDARD PEOPLE BACK TO POWER

  3. tony

    SOME FAMILIES HAVE TAKEN FOR GRANTED THAT THIS COUNTRY BELONGS TO THEM AND DO WHATEVER THEY WANT IGNORING ETHICS. THERE ARE SEVERAL INSTANCES WHERE THE FATHER IS THE CHIEF GUESTS WHERE THE SON IS RECEIVING AN AWARD. NO SHAME ON THESE FAMILIES

  4. T Wickramaratna

    so Udaya can twist his tong in many directions.

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