Sunday, July 8, 2012
The University Dons have created a disingenuous online petition
FUTA have an online petition called, “Save Sri Lankan Schools and Universities.” Firstly I would respectfully ask them not to bring the massive problems in schools into their strike and industrial action. They hope, I believe to gain sympathy from the public by this petition, but they are being very cynical in encompassing issues not related to their agitation into their demands, so that they can maintain that their demands are not just on higher remuneration.
I believe there are very grave issues in Academia that are not confined to pay scales. They are complex, and will touch on some, such as research, published articles, teaching quality, uptodate syllabuses, facilities, enforced return of those who have gone on sabbaticals, and the brain drain of the best and most mobile to overseas climes, never to return.
It must be remembered that in a system where there are tenured positions, new people cannot be promoted until others leave or retire. It is a greater reason for the exodus of the best, leaving the not so good behind, warming their seats, and not being as productive as they should, either on published research or quality teaching.
I wish they had included the above issues into their online petition to balance their grievances. I know they have a legitimate grouse, because of the politicization of the UGC and the Vice Chancellor system, that has completely demoralized the Academic staff, and created distrust amongst the undergraduates. The issues are very complex, and only a few of the problems will be solved by acceding to their demands.
A holistic review of the whole problem is required rather than solution to a selected few, that the academics have identified. They have glossed over the tricky challenging matters that they would rather not address as it will adversely affect some of their membership!
We must never lose sight of the objectives. We MUST ensure that the quality of the State Tertiary Education is at least as good if not better than the private tertiary sector, lest we shortchange our qualified citizenry. This cannot necessarily be guaranteed by just higher salaries. It requires resources, which are in the petition, but cannot be high enough to accept ALL who qualify to enter into University! The country just cannot afford.