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FUTA tells govt to keep KDU for its original purpose of giving higher education and training to tri-forces officers

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The Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) yesterday urged the government to restructure the existing Kotelawala National Defence University so that it served its intended purpose of providing higher education and training to officers of the tri-forces.

A statement signed by Rohan Laksiri, General Secretary of FUTA said: The Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) expresses its grave concern and dismay regarding the remarks made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at a meeting held to brief the Maha Sangha about the COVID 19 situation in the country and the Kotelawala Defense University (KNDU) Bill. These remarks, which were widely reported on news channels and also included in a press release issued by the Presidential Media Division, show an alarming degree of ignorance regarding the higher education sector and its regulatory framework. Contrary to the President’s remarks that those opposing the KNDU bill do so in ignorance, we would like to point out that it is the President and those who advise him who seem to be either ignorant or engaged in willfully misleading the public.

The president’s remarks and the press release refer to a “UGC Act”. To the best of our knowledge no such document exists. We believe this is a mistaken reference the Universities Act of 1978 – which provides a visionary regulatory mechanism for university education in Sri Lanka and represents a legal framework that has stood the test of time for over 40 years. The remarks made by the President suggest that the government intends to modify the Universities Act so that KNDU and other universities that currently do not come under the purview of the UGC can be brought under UGC purview. This is a new and worrying development. It appears that given the intensifying public resistance to the proposed KNDU bill, which was presented to parliament but has been temporarily withheld from voting, the government is attempting ad hoc amendments to the Universities Acts to push through its short-sighted policies of corporatizing and militarizing university education. Given a number of public remarks made by some senior politicians of this government, it is obvious that two narrow principles guide the government policy. One is an extremely narrow-minded view about creating a ‘disciplined society’ and seeing education as a process of creating uncritical and unthinking ‘subjects’ as opposed to a democratic citizenry. The other is an equally narrow-minded goal of turning university and higher education into a commodity determined by market principles.

We, as the Federation of University Teachers Associations, call upon the government to immediately halt its highly arbitrary and non-consultative attempts at meddling with the university and higher education regulatory framework of this country. We recognize that higher education and university reforms are necessary and that the Universities Act of 1978 may require certain timely modifications. However, any such modification needs to happen through a broad and democratic consultative process that both safeguard the free education principles that all post-independence governments of this country have ensured and at the same time protect the democratic spirit deeply engrained in the university system of Sri Lanka. We are currently living through the deep and negative consequences of arbitrary decision making and the unnecessary encroachment of the military into areas of civilian governance. The government’s hasty, non-consultative and ignorant attempts at university and higher education reform at this point, will simply lead to the creation of an education system and culture which will lack quality, rigor and will erode the fundamental values on which our education system is built. We earnestly urge the government to immediately enter into a consultative process with all education sector stakeholders and we also call upon all segments of Sri Lankan society to resist and rally against the ad-hoc and shortsighted reform agenda of this government. We also urge the government to restructure the existing Kotelawala National Defense University so that it serves its intended purpose of providing higher education and training to officers of the tri-forces. We would like to reiterate that all academic programmes currently enrolled in civilian students should be integrated into the existing university system in the country and that a military institution is not a suitable place to provide higher education to civilians.



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MP’s wife, father-in-law among three detained

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Rishad held under PTA to be questioned

16-year-old girl’s death:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Police investigating the death of 16-year-old Ishalini, the domestic servant at All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen’s Baudhaloka Mawatha residence have arrested Ayesha Shiabdeen, 46, the wife of the former minister.

Police also took into custody Rishad’s father-in-law Mohammed Shiabdeen, 70, and Ponnaiah Pandaram alias Shankar, 64, a resident of Dayagama.

Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said that Shankar had brought Ilashini from Dayagama to the Baudhaloka Mawatha residence of Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Vanni District lawmaker late last year.

Having studied the post postmortem report, they were taken into custody in terms of Section 360 C and Section 308 B of the Penal Code that dealt with human trafficking and cruelty to children, the top police officer said. According to him, so far 20 statements had been recorded.

Asked whether MP Bathiudeen, too, had been among the questioned, Senior DIG Rohana said the parliamentarian detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) over 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, too, would be interrogated in that regard.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. It switched its allegiance to the SJB ahead of 2020 general election after having represented the cabinet in UNP led yahapalana administration. Rishad has also served President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet during his second term.

Having suffered serious burn injuries on July 3 at the MP’s residence and admitted to the National Hospital, Illashini succumbed to her injuries on July 15th. Medical examination revealed that she had been raped over a period of time.

The police spokesman said that they intended to secure court approval to detain the suspects for 72 hours. A Superintendent of Police could obtain such approval on the strength of a B report submitted to the court in respect of offenses on children.

Although, the police indicated earlier in the day they would be produced in Colombo Magistrate court they weren’t brought in.

Meanwhile, the SJB said that interested parties were making a despicable attempt to politicize the incident. The police should be allowed to conduct the investigation without interference, a spokesman for the main Opposition party said.

 

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Women’s organisations in North conduct protests demanding justice for Ilashini

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A section of those engaged in Jaffna protests

 

By Dinasena Ratugamage

Women’s organisations in the North yesterday held a number of demonstrations in Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Jaffna against the death of J. Ilashini, the 16 -year-old girl who died while working at SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s residence.

The protesters urged authorities to ensure that investigations into the death are conducted in a transparent manner. The family of the victim should be compensated and those guilty punished, they said.

Representatives of the organisations said that if justice was not done, they would hold a massive demonstration in Tarapuram, Mannar, which Bathiudeen represents in Parliament.

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Dancer lodges complaint with police over FB post 

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Police headquarters yesterday (23) said that dancer Anusha Damayanthi had lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a Facebook post alleging that she was running a brothel.

Police headquarters said that Damayanthi, while denying the accusation, had also brought to the CID’s notice that a minister was being accused of lambasting the Walana anti-crime strike force for carrying out the raid. Police said that an investigation was underway.

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