Full politicization of our Universities

I saw a long narration about my Alma Mater (University) which was probably written in malicious political intention and this is in no way an attempt to engage in a debate with the writer or answer any issues raised. But regret to say without the points I am raising here are not included in that essay, it cannot be taken as an academic exercise. I will leave it to a politically oriented person to address those issue academically. The points I am raising here could be used as a base.

I will put them in concise and precise manner since an average reader has no time to read long essays.

There is a little scientific but not political bias here.

I try to be in chronological order but not in logical order and the reader can assemble in logical order he wishes to.

The bottom line is politicians without vision and education principles are ruining all education including university.

First that come to mind is Monty (Late Monty Gopallawa who was the Governor in Kandy) Affair.

Monty is a good friend of mine and good philosopher and I have no intention of incriminating any malice or disgrace to him, his father or his family except highlighting the wrong decisions made by the then education minister and only he is culpable of the grandiose mistake.

I must state here when I heard about the Monty’s demise I wrote a verse (sent to a paper but they did not publish it) and publish it in the web and it is still there. Only other person I have written a verse is our late Kadhiragarmar. That is to put in perspective the way I admire both personalities.

The story we have heard was that Monty did not have the required marks to enter the university. Then the minister gave orders to lower the marks of entry to accommodate Monty. In that process the candidates up to that point mark had to be taken in to all the universities. The universities did not have the proper infrastructure to accommodate the numbers involved and the race course adjoining the Colombo university was used as temporary shelter.

This was the beginning and I think the year was 1965.

Lot of things happened after that and in 1965 (may be later) police was called in to settle a dispute and police baton charged and one student had serious head injuries and he completed his academic studies with me many years later.

In 1968 Army was stationed in the Gymnasium with political motivation and what followed was nasty and I was there to witness it.

Then in 1974 on wrong (a racial issue) advice the practical examination for science subjects to enter the science streams were stopped.

Then Science Streams were made to be taught in mother tongue (Swabasha) and that was the death knell for outside world of scientific knowledge.

Between 1974 to 1976 (I need to be corrected here-I had left the university by then) another blunder was made by introducing area basis admission scheme but not on merits. This is of cause the violation of the rights of the student who obtained requires marks. They should be compensated in some academically acceptable way for this arbitrary politically motivated penalization.

In 1975 or 1976 we had a death of a student (I was a witness as a doctor in Kandy OPD) shot by police, a single bullet at short range.

We did not have a proper Vice Chancellor it could have been a Competent Authority (politically appointed, I believe) that was running the show.

In 1977 the UGC (and the act) was established leading to full politicization and the Chancellor and Vice chancellor were made on political affiliations.

There are many more blunders in our education and one of the biggest is when a wrong decision was made there was no discussion or and no attempt to correct it even when it was realized that the decision was not made on education principles but on political grounds with short sight.

These thing happened not in isolation but with connivance of academics who go for high seats and become stooges of politicians.

Down the ages with political intervention we manged to cancel the University Entrance Examination conducted by the University independently.

University has no choice in selecting the students they wish to have in their various faculties.

It is a game of lottery or lotto which is unprecedented unlike in universities abroad.

For over 60 years we did not have an Education Minister with some distant vision or understanding of real needs and I have a feeling the way we select our representatives we never will have..

There are lot of lapses in this summary of events but I will wind up with a down to earth story.

I had served six years of service and I wanted to go abroad.

For GMC registration I needed my degree certificate. I had applied it five years ago and when I inquired about it the registrar told me that they do not have money to buy the special paper for degree certificate ( imported probably from UK).

I could not wait and I was not bothered about the special paper and told the registrar I need a certificate authenticated by you and the vice chancellor, that is all what I want.

Finally with some persuasion, the vice chancellor agreed to give such certificate pending the original.

My father received the certificate many years later when I was abroad (I may be the only one who has two certificates for the same degree) and he kept it in his safe possession without telling me. He of course fell sick and was ill for a long period of time and his memory was gone. Then many years later after my father’s death my sister who had some of his precious paper belonging dumped them in a garage of my other sister.

One day I was looking for some old memorabilia in the garage, may be my father’s stamp album and some of his photos (one gone missing by that time) and I found my MBBS (Ceylon) Certificate, top part eaten by white ants.and bottom part still legible because of the quality of the print material.

It may be at least 20 years later I saw my original certificate.

Quite and outstanding achievement of mine.

I have two other outstanding achievements.

I decided not to attend any convocation for my life in Ceylon. Our convocation was canceled indefinitely for many years because they could not buy the paper to print certificates. We never had it. Some of my friends mostly Tamil are coming home (they are all over the world) in April for a get together and I need to remind this fact to them.

I never took a photograph with the degree paraphernalia (cloak).

But I still remain as a teacher of young adults who need direction.

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