The recent advertisement on the university teachers, who defaulted after having received huge amounts of money from the Government as loans for further education in various countries, is the manifestation of an appalling mentality in many people of the country.
Further reports on the advertisement say that majority of these university teachers had not at least returned to the country.
The number of university teachers – including those holding Doctorates and Professorships - is a mind-boggling 486 and the amount they had defaulted is Rs. 813 million, according to the University Grants Commission (UGC). Many of them are employed in other countries now, according to the reports. There may be people among these university teachers, who had fought for the allocation of six percent of the GDP for the education, which was a major demand by the academia.
Except for a very few, who had gone to International Schools, the entire student population whether they are attending schools or universities are being taught with the funds allocated annually by the budget and sometimes Government pumps more money for education and higher education through supplementary estimates. And needless to say that this is the tax levied from the ordinary people, including those who toil in chenas in the dry zone and those who sweep the roads in Colombo.
In spite of parents spending huge amounts of money on tuition classes, the education in schools and universities is ‘free’ or State or taxpayer-funded.
Despite questions having been raised on the dedication and commitment of some of the teachers in schools and universities, Government spends millions of tax-payers’ money each year on each child studying in schools and universities. Hence, every person who had attended Government schools at least one or two years is indebted to the country and the people, morally.
Therefore, it goes without saying that it is a punishable national crime on the part of the university teachers to default public funds obtained by way of loans for postgraduate education, after having received all these benefits during their studies in schools as well as in universities. They are indebted not only in financial terms but also in moral terms, as mentioned before.
Nobody can argue that these university teachers who had defaulted on the loans they had obtained from the Government found better opportunities in other countries after they obtained the postgraduate education in those countries.
They should definitely have had the prior knowledge of those opportunities and most probably had premeditated the default of public funds and their brain drain. They do so as they are paid in those countries several folds of what they earn here.
That only fact, signifies their financial capability to repay at least the loans they obtained, leave alone the moral indebtedness to the country and its people.
Some argue that publishing an advertisement on the default of loans by the university teachers would tarnish the good names of the universities. However, it is ironic to think that the image of the universities would be tarnished by the exposure of the defaulters and not by defaulting on the public funds by the university teachers.
One may also argue that people migrate to other countries due to the degenerated situation in every sphere of society in Sri Lanka. School teachers leave the teaching to the tuition classes; doctors are fond of prescribing more and more medical tests for patients, compelling the Government to ban some tests at private hospitals for patients in State hospitals; only hope of the politicians irrespective of their parties who wax eloquent on morality on every platform is plundering public funds in millions, if not billions; traders sell food discarded as animal food to their fellow citizens; transport in urban areas is a nightmare; no decent man can use public transport; even some religious issues are being looked through political prism. Yes, there are reasons to leave for a better place to live, in a way.
Yet, this is an invalid argument when it comes to the question of the university teachers who do not repay their loans. Because how can one expect dedication and commitment towards the country and its people from others, if he or she is not prepared at least to repay the loan he or she obtained from public coffers, even when he or she gets a high salary and perks abroad?