(Lanka-e-News -25.Sep,2023, 6.10AM) This protest will be attended by academics from 17 universities and around 46 trade unions of academics. In addition, the leaders of around 26 non-academic and executive unions of the universities will attend to declare their support for this protest. The objectives of the protest are to (a) express the deep and growing displeasure among the academics and university community of the negligence of the state universities by the government, and its covert operation to make them self-fiancing institutions depriving poor students the opportunity of obtaining free education, (b) to demand that government must reverse its unfair taxation and introduce a tax fair system to catch those tax evaders, and to force the government to withdraw its proposal to cut superannuation funds and impose a heavy interest on it, which will, by and large, deprive workers much of their retirement funds.
FUTA has shown very clearly that, today, the universities have to operate amidst a severe crisis of funding and human resources. On the one hand, there is a huge brain drain and, on the other, the government policy does not allow for recruiting permanent staff. Since 2017 the government has not provided academic cadres for the universities and despite the increase in student intake from 30,000 to 45,000 the number of academic staff has remained the same and has kept dwindling fast due to retirements and brain drain. Today, the academic staff requirement for all seven universities remains more than 15000, but the existing number is less than 6500. The academics who are in the system are overburdened and the students have to face the injustice very often due to the huge gap in the student-teacher ratio.
At the same time, the government policy of restructuring universities has threatened the existence of a free education system. It is understandable that the government is going to introduce a self-financing system and will wash its hands of the responsibility of providing free higher education in the near future. We as FUTA and the joint front of non-academic unions are determined to fight for the protection of state universities and invite the public to join the struggle as the government has no mercy on poor people, and, if we do not increase the intensity of the struggle, it will easily deprive the country of its free higher education system very soon.
Dr. Athulasiri Samarakoon
by (2023-09-25 00:44:51)
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