Moves to oppose setting up of non-state universities
Nov 21, 2011

The Movement to Protect Free Education, an organization comprising school teachers, students and university lecturers, yesterday vowed to challenge, in a court of law, the proposed bill to set up non state universities.

According to the bill, non-state universities can be registered under the Companies Act and the Board of Investment Act. A council is to be established to administer these nonstate universities under the bill comprising two representatives from the non-state university concerned as well. Addressing the media, Sri Jayawardenapura University senior lecturer Ven. Dambara Amila Thera said that the bill had been drafted, and it would have dire consequences on free education if enacted in Parliament.ven. Amila Thera who is also the President of the Jvp-affiliated National Bhikkhu Front said education was the topmost fundamental right of individuals.

“Education is considered the prime and foremost need of people. There cannot be anything that is more important than education. An individual, in his spirituality, should place his education above his religion. It does not mean that education is something like a belief system. It is education that shapes and determines everything in one’s life,” he said. He vowed to make every possible effort to pre-empt the government’s attempt to introduce this new bill which is yet to be presented in Parliament.

“The government is trying to make a time tested move to enact this bill. It has been drafted. We have got hold of a copy of it. In 1980s, the then government attempted to privatize education through the infamous ‘white paper’. Yet, progressive movements were able to defeat the move. Today, those who try to introduce this bill appeared to have learnt from the mistakes they made in the past in trying to privatize free education. Now, they seem to be making a novel approach,” he University lecturer Dr. Rohan Fernando said though at least six percent of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) should be apportioned for education, Sri Lanka had set aside only two or 2.5 percent for the purpose during the last few years. Dr. Fernando said that Cuba spends 18.2 percent, Germany 4.6 percent, India 4.1, the United States 5.7, Ethiopia 4.6 percent and Kenya seven percent for the development of the education sector from their budgets.

“UNESCO says that at least six percent of the GDP should be set aside for the education sector,” he said.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka