Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake yesterday said students of private higher education institutions had also requested that they be allowed to participate in the leadership training programme and that they were willing to pay for it.
He rejected the allegations made by Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) convener Sanjeewa Bandara on the leadership training programme and confirmed that leadership training programmes were being held at 23 centres with the participation of about 91.7% of the students.
“Eighty four lecturers and professors are taking part in the programme as lecturers and instructors with one lecturer in charge of each centre,” the minister said.
Mr. Bandara alleged that the leadership training programme was not for the benefit of the students but it was a kind of military training solely meant to fulfill the political ideology of the government.
“We do not approve of this programme. This is contradictory to the principles of education. This training will in no way uplift the educational level of students. It is being carried out despite the discontent of students, parents and lecturers. Students have to undergo immense mental and physical stress due to this programme.
This training programme has replaced the English study programme given to the students earlier. We see this training programme as an initial step to create an atmosphere for a military regime in the country by risking the lives of students. We condemn both military training and steps taken to offer colonel ranks to school principals,” Mr. Bandara said.
When asked whether the English and Computer programmes were scratched to start this training programme he said English and IT programmes were scheduled to be held next year.
“We scheduled an English and computer programme this year but we could not do it because of the late registration and selection of the students due to the Z-score fiasco. We have scheduled if for next year.”
However Mr. Bandara said this pointless training programme was begun instead of giving priority to improve the university students’ basic English and computer knowledge which was vital for their higher studies. (Ajith Siriwardana)