The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) has urged the public to come forward to save the freedom of education and the country’s university system for generations to come.
The FUTA, yesterday (25), staged a protest opposite the University Grants Commission (UGC) against the Government’s alleged efforts to destroy the free education system and the repressive tax policy imposed on professionals. It was attended by academics from 17 universities and around 46 trade unions of academics and leaders of around 26 non-academic and executive unions of State universities.
Speaking to the media during the protest, FUTA Chairman Prof. Barana Jayawardana alleged that the current Government is attempting to destroy the entire university system and claimed that it intentionally impeded the mechanism for finding solutions with the idea of privatising the education system under the guise of these issues. He also urged that everyone should come forward in order to save free education for future generations which university teachers alone cannot accomplish without support.
“Particularly, the immediate former Government and the incumbent are making every possible effort to cripple the State university system. Even though we have been urging the Government to provide solutions for the existing acute shortage of university teachers and the brain drain since the economic crisis started, we can’t see that they have taken comprehensive measures to address these issues. Therefore, we have nothing to do other than change the system,” he claimed. Prof. Jayawardana added that these trade union actions are being taken not to gain any privileges or relief but only to save free education, which has been a fundamental right of every person.
The FUTA staged this protest in the wake of the State university system experiencing a shortage of about 2,000 academic staff and the Government attempting to establish private medical faculties. According to the FUTA, the University of Peradeniya has the biggest shortage of academic staff members, with a shortage of 257, followed by the Moratuwa University with 227, and the University of Sri Jayewardenepura being short of 209 academic staff members.
25 Sep 2023 | BY Sahan Tennekoon/ The Morning