The Sunday Leader

Unemployed Graduates Left On The Streets

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Unemployed graduates staging a protest

The issue of unemployed graduates still continues unresolved and to date the graduates have no other alternative than to protest. The current good governance regime has taken some measures to provide employment for the unemployed graduates.

However, when inquired by The Sunday Leader we discovered that there is no sustainable plan in order to ensure employment opportunities for the unemployed graduates in the future.

A sathyagraha being staged in the Uva province is still continuing while a sathyagraha in the North Eastern province was being staged for the 185th consecutive day as of last Friday. According to the protestors, they will continue their protest until they receive their letters of appointment to their hands and they refuse to abandon their protest mid-way without a guarantee.

The Minister of Public Administration and Management, Ranjith Madduma Bandara said the highest points at the recruiting for the Administrative Service were obtained by these graduates.

He said measures are being taken to address this issue. In response to the graduates’ issues pertaining to the provision of jobs, he said as a whole, the entire education system in the country should be revised. He pointed out that there is a dearth of candidates with technical knowledge and as such there is a huge shortage of candidates to fill these positions. Hence, he highlighted the need to tailor the education system in order to create educated candidates for the ever changing job market.

Meanwhile, according to the Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, there had not been a proper mechanism in the past to deal with such issues and the current government is in the process of implementing a mechanism to deal with the requirements of both the job market and the candidates.

Further, plans are afoot to gather all graduates unions of the Uva province and the Joint Unemployed Graduates Unions for a discussion on what measures should be taken to resolve the issues faced by the unemployed graduates. According to the convener of the Unemployed Graduates Association, Tenne Gnanananda Thera,  there should be a social dialog regarding this issue.

When asked what the end result of these protests were, the Thera said they do not expect divine intervention in resolving these issues but they have to find solutions to these issues from among ourselves. Similarly, what could not be achieved through parliament could be achieved through getting into the streets. If not a solution, at least some solace could be expected. The people could not achieve their goals through the ballot. However, they intend to exert pressure on the government as a team.

The Aesthetics graduates took to the streets recently demanding a proper national mechanism to grant degrees to graduates. The Aesthetics University, Sripali forum, Jayawardenapura and Kelaniya, etc. are some of the institutes that produces Aesthetics graduates. At present there are around 43,000 unemployed graduates while there are around 60,000 vacancies. However, according to the unions, these vacancies are being filled based on political grounds and temporarily mending the problem will not suffice.

They claim that there should be a proper national policy in order to address the issue of unemployment. The Unions say their intention in staging these protests is to force the government to intervene in such issues and take decisions to resolve this matter my streamlining the system. Moreover the authorities have no idea of how many unemployed graduates exist, especially in the rural areas and finding solutions is problematic. But, one thing is clear that the country needs a proper national policy in order to resolve this matter. According to the Ven. Tenne Thera, they plan to include several private graduates too in their struggle as eventually they all face the same issue of unemployment.

According to data available there are 3,500 unemployed graduates in the North, 2,500 in Uva, 6,500 in the East, 2,500 in Sabaragamuwa, 6,000 in the Central province, 3,000 in the west, 1,500 in the North Central, 8,600 in the South, 6,000 in Wayamba. These data does not include the graduates who passed out in 2016.

The government, as a temporary solution, took measures to appoint some of the graduates to fill the teacher vacancies. However, the unions point out that money should be allocated even through the budget for this purpose.

By the government actions that degrade the graduates it has a negative effect on the country as well. The unions point out that unless the unemployment issue is resolved there could be no social transformation in the country.

Although this issue has been discussed repeatedly and many promises made, the issue remains unresolved. During the past two years alone there have been many protests organised by these unemnployment graduates and two were large scale protests. During the past two weeks alone there were protests by the Unemployed Graduates Union and several union representatives met with the Wayamba province governor on two occasions to discuss their grievances. During the meeting it was revealed that in the Wayamba province there are 4,700 teacher vacancies and the union was to be notified of the Development Officer vacancies as well.

The Chief Minister of Wayamba and the Governor promised to expedite measures to fill 1,500 vacancies with these graduates. However, the unions having heard these promises made over and over again have no faith in the words uttered by these officials and have vouched to carry on their protest until these promises are fulfilled.

The Joint Unions also warned that Dictatorial Liberalism is engulfing the country and this dark cloud is engulfing labourers, farmers, fishermen and students alike. It is fast spreading and people’s fundamental rights are under threat. Education so far could not be commercialised but today we see education, health and lands too fast becoming open market commodities and the people are being deprived of their right to these facilities.

As a society, if we are to progress, social awareness is paramount. However, dictatorial new liberal policies do not regard social values but all they need is market value. Adopting such policies to the education sector however, is truly a tragedy. The government is of the view that the purpose of education is to create employment opportunities in the market and they have already drawn up plans and are in the process of implementing them.

Under these government policies they are in the process of pruning the Aesthetic subjects. Language, culture and philosophical subjects are main areas of the Aesthetics curriculum. These factors play a huge role in shaping society and the role it plays is a clear indication of society’s progress. Aesthetics preserves the diversity and sensitivity of our society. However, in this day and age everything is measured in rupees and cents and even in Sri Lanka, ethics and culture no longer is considered vital. Aesthetics in fact preserves the country’s culture, language and the very essence of our ethics. However the sole intension of these capitalists is to make everything market commodities that have a price tag on them.

What these capitalists want is to create a society with people similar to machines where they only work towards monetary gain and rid them of all moral and ethical bonds. This will no doubt drain society of its very essence, its soul and create humans similar to robots with no regard for emotions and feelings. For them humanity, language preservation and culture are of little or no relevance. All that matters are those that can be measured in rupees and cents.

As a result they are in the process of commercialising education as well and hence, they are promoting these rogue degree shops. There is no longer any regard to the quality of education. However, under these circumstances, the unions are engaged in a uphill task of fighting the government all the way and among these struggles are the fight for the abolition of SAITM, which they intend to continue until they reach their goal.

Meanwhile around 3,000 students are facing the threat of being deprived of their opportunity to enter university and the government is reducing the monetary allocations for education with the aim of promoting these private universities. Even within schools it is highly commercialised and money is being charged without any proper validation. There are numerous circulars issued to prevent this practice. However, now we have reached a point where we must decide firmly if we are going to allow ourselves to live freely or become market commodities with a price tag on us.

We need to keep up this struggle for a better future perhaps not for us but for our future generations. For them we must make this sacrifice and forge forward our struggle to safeguard education.

7 Comments for “Unemployed Graduates Left On The Streets”

  1. Namal Perera

    Even when they are in the University, majority of them are out on the street so it is nothing new to them.

  2. Shan

    Total Rubbish!!!

    They got free education!

    Now they must use that education creatively to either get jobs or make work for themselves, this “hand me a job on a platter, ‘cos I am university educated” mentality has to be eradicated, they got free education now it is up to them to get employment and give back to society.

    If they can’t figure that out put them back in pampers and send them back to the Kindergarten!!

    In other countries students have to take loans and once they graduate they have to pay back, the onus of finding a job is on the newly graduated individual and not any other part of society.

    The problem here is that they got education for free and now want a cushy government billing so that that they can sit back, do nothing and get paid!!

    Ask how is it that much of the private sector work force IS NOT university educated but yet manage to be successful? Accepting any job that comes your way and working yourself up the ladder . . . IT WORKS!

    • Govt. Pensioner

      I FULLY AGREE WITH YOU ! I believe that the Private Sector prefers to take School Leavers instead of University Graduates in order to avoid Union Action including strikes and go slows by University qualified ( I do not use the word “educated”) Yakos.

  3. Govt. Pensioner

    Can you please give me a list of countries where the State guaranties employment to graduates from Universities? Can you also give me a list of countries that give Free Higher Education?

  4. LAKS

    They must go to a sheady area or under a hut as it it is now raining before getting wet, and north east Unemployed Graduates are already having make shift huts to avoid sun as there is a drought, no rain for months and no water to drink as all the wells are gone dry ,
    They Unemployed Graduates have only bloody degree certificates, no other qualifications or/and any experiences, even as a fast food order taker, but have 60-70 thousands worth of mobile phones in their hands

    And later they are becoming administrators to control us in government institutions and take bribes from all the poor people.

    Next time O/L And A/L pass students will make fast unto death asking jobs from government [ From US, sri lankan people, we are the government].

    so get ready.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    over to you editolial /Ashanthi Warunasuriya

  5. daya weerasinghe

    Insted of becomming unemployed graduates…they should have learnt som skills, a profession…….a lesson for the future generations…!

  6. Adams Walter

    It is a global phenomenon. Like Greece of today.Go back to the fields and grow non GM food for export because the is where the money lies.
    The Sunday Times in the UK mentioned the story of one student, who, after 12 years of school, four years of university and a degree in Business Management, was now working on a factory production line. He said, “I want to do something that gives me opportunities, so that I can work towards something. I am qualified to do all sorts of things, but I am working in a factory.” This crisis is affecting large swaths of graduates:
    There is nothing you can do about a global class war; The rich always win!
    The global financial crisis is a global class war. In 2006, Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest billionaires, said that what is going in is “class warfare,” and that, “it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning

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