Dear Sri Lankan Academics,
I thought of writing you this to tell a different side that I see in this lecturers' strike. You are very much invited to comment if I am wrong.
I am not in agreement with many things that the present government does and the way things are done. However, in this particular issue I have some questions with respect to lecturers' action.
SB may be an utter fool who destroy our higher education......keep it a side for a while.
As lecturers themselves painted, now this strike is in full swing going towards 6% GDP issue. Even in the march everyone could see mostly this slogan...in banners, vocals and even T-shirts.
Now there are few question marks ????????
At the first place have lecturers got a mandate to strike for a national policy issue?
Don't forget that university lecturers are only a part of the huge machine that we call "National Education".
They may strike for salary hike, improvement of university facilities or even demanding for air-conditioning the university toilets...........of course they have all the rights to do that, irrespective of whether the demands are fair or not.
But going on strike, demanding to allocate 6% GDP on education..................................?
Isn't this a decision that should be taken collectively at higher level?
If a lecturer really wants to get this done, he should have joined a political organization in the capacity of a Sri Lanka citizen and demand for that or even work towards toppling the government if they don't fulfill what is desired?
There is an ethical issue that also comes with this demand. When you demand for a chunk of 6% (about 4.2% increment) for education and if the government accommodate such, then they have to cut down the same percentage from another sector to fulfill your requirement. There is no percentage for contingencies from GDP.
Now from which sector you expect the government to cut down.........Medicine, Security, Social welfare......!!!!!!
Some people say that this can be done by cutting down corruption. That is ridicules. There is no allocation for corruption in the GDP. It is everywhere... When you cut down that from one sector, it escalates in another sector, as far as you don't change the entire system...
Don't forget that if you have a right to demand for an increment in % of GDP on education, then all other sectors have the same right for a demand. Doesn't that make the whole country a joke? Such as 150% of GDP divided among the sectors......!!!!!!!
Now, we are coming to a very crucial point. When you show the table of the % of GDP of education in several countries, you forget an important point. In those countries with somewhat higher percentage, the education is not free even in the state sector. Thus, a considerable percentage of the money allocated by the government for education is gained back in the form of school, university and other tuition fees levied from kindergarten onward. However, in Sri Lanka the expenditure is an absolute value.
Some times ago Minister Wimal Weerawansha brought forward another valid point but no government proxy could capitalize on that. As he showed, the expenditure on education does not reflect only by the money allocated for education and higher education ministries which is taken by the % calculation. Even certain amounts of funds allocated for other ministries such as S&T, Construction, Engineering services, Social welfare etc. are also spent on uplifting education either directly or indirectly.
Now this whole union action has become a village pickle. You may not see the reality due to the curtains raised by the crowds that gathered in the march and the rally. But those will vanish in no-time when they see that they have no gains in joining you. If they stay, they will make sure that you will be fighting for their war instead of your own struggle.
In this context I kindly appeal you to re-think about your objectives, strategies and approaches, before it is too late.
I see a dark cloud ahead.