Headline Sep 16, 2015/ ''' A TALE-TUTORIAL FOR ALL GOVERNMENTS '''



THE BUDDHIST MONK,  staring intently at the smoke rising from an incense stick, said the government was destroying  state provided education because-

''It was easier to control uneducated fools.'' 

Maduluwawe Sobitha is an influential figure in Siri Lanka's majority Sinhala population. And  He has always been a fair and  a loud critic of the government.

The Monk's new National Movement Against  Social Injustice is, with other groups and unions, was backing a university lecturers' strike for more state spending on education.

In 2012, almost 5,000  academics stopped work. Like them, he was angry that the government spends a mere  1.9% of  GDP on schools and universities. 
So, just later the higher education minister  responded by closing down indefinitely the country's state universities and institutes.

He accused lecturers of dragging students into their campaign. Yet students. among them young Buddhist monks, continued with their protest demanding the universities be reopened.

Some days later, the police in Colombo fired water cannon and tear gas at hundreds and thousands of students marching in support of the academics.

Members of the Inter university Students Federation retaliated by flinging whatever they could lay their hands on, including rocks and spent tear gas canisters. 

This kind of volatility rattled the whole government. Universities in Siri Lanka are hotbeds of political activity, particularly by anti-government Marxist groups such as the People's Liberation Front. 

The Inter University Federation was affiliated with the government party. And that was probably one reason why, in 2011, the higher education ministry ordered all universities to hire security-

From a firm run by the defense ministry, which was headed by one of the president's brothers.

New university entrants also had to complete a course in ''leadership training'' run by the army.

Arjuna Aluwthare, a former vice-chancellor and past chairman of the University Grants Commission, saw all this as a sign of regime's insecurity in the face of those who disagreed with it. Some factions in the government thought that the opponents-

Were spoiling for to instigate an Arab Spring style revolution. The higher education minister openly accused university lecturers of being part of a plot to bring about regime change.

That seemed a far cry from the academics' aims. They first asked for a 20% salary raise to stem brain drain. But as the talks between Government and the Federation of Teachers Association crumbled, their wish list only grew.

It then included a demand for spending on education to be raised to 6% of GDP. They also wanted universities to be free from government meddling. And then Schoolteachers began protesting too:

Against a rapid decline in the quality of primary and secondary education.  But toppling the government, laughed the FUTA president, ''was not our business.''

And then, the President assigned another brother, to sort out the mess. He was optimistic that the dispute could be resolved.

But back at the temple, Maduluwawe Sobitha  pledged support for the campaigners.

It is in the country's best interest, he insisted, while adjusting his robes, to have ''lesser and fewer fools around.''    

The Monk's wisdom could well apply to almost all the countries of the world.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Siri Lanka. See Ya all on !WOW!    -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Stop Politicization Of Universities '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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