(Graphic by The Sunday Times)
The new government of Sri Lanka has decided to terminate a mandatory military style leadership training program initiated by the previous government for school principals and university entrants.
Sri Lanka’s new Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said the government is ending the program that was compulsory for the students entering the country’s universities under the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration.
Similarly the government will call-off the leadership training for the school principals and awarding brevet military titles to them.
Previous government’s mandatory leadership training program for undergraduates was highly unpopular among the students and parents, and has been seen by intellectuals as a militarization of the education sector.
Sri Lanka’s Marxist party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), affiliated student union had charged that the leadership training was a part of the government strategy of militarizing the society.
The new government installed earlier this month under President Maithripala Sirisena has pledged to reduce the military’s role in the society, especially in the education sector.
The Education Minister said the military training is not necessary for school administrators or students adding that the Education Ministry is in the process of preparing a circular announcing the discontinuation of the program and it will be sent to the President for approval soon.
Over 4,000 school principals have received military titles through the physically demanding program.
The three-week long, physically demanding program was given at military camps to provide leadership training and enhance positive attitude in new university entrants. The rigorous fitness training had resulted in deaths of three students and a principal also died while participating in a training program in 2013.