While claiming that a military institution was not a suitable place to provide higher education to civilians, the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) today called on the government to restructure the existing Kotelawala National Defense University to serve its intended purpose of providing higher education and training to officers of the tri-forces.
The FUTA said in a statement that all academic programs currently enrolled in civilian students in the KDU should be integrated into the existing university system in the country.
"We are currently living through the deep and negative consequences of arbitrary decision making and the unnecessary encroachment of the military into areas of civilian governance. The government’s hasty, non- consultative and ignorant attempts at university and higher education reform at this point, will simply lead to the creation of an education system and culture which will lack quality, rigor and will erode the fundamental values on which our education system is built," the FUTA said.
Referring to the President’s recent remarks on bringing the Kotelawala Defence University under University Grants Commission, the FUTA said that the remarks made by the President suggest that the government intended to modify the Universities Act so that KDU and other universities that currently do not come under the purview of the UGC can be brought under UGC purview.
Its President Prof . B.M.H.S.K. Bannehaka said the president’s reference to a “UGC Act” was a mistaken reference to the Universities Act of 1978 as there was no such Act called “UGC Act”.
He said the government was attempting ad-hoc amendments to the Universities Acts to push through its short-sighted policies of corporatizing and militarizing university education.
"This is a new and worrying development. The government is attempting ad hoc amendments to the Universities Acts to push through its short-sighted policies of corporatizing and militarizing university education," the FUTA said in the statement.
Prof. Bannehaka said the Universities Act of 1978 may require certain timely modification and added that however, any such modification needs to happen through a broad and democratic consultative process.
The FUTA urged the government to immediately enter into a consultative process with all education sector stakeholders and also called upon all segments of Sri Lankan society to resist and rally against the ad-hoc and shortsighted reform agenda of this government. (AS)