An ideal proposal | Daily News

An ideal proposal

A proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe for making it mandatory for all university students to leave the campus after only one extra year is a sound step which could go a long way in clearing the mess that our universities had become.

Speaking during the Committee Stage Debate on the Defence Ministry vote in Parliament on Thursday, President Wickremesinghe said whereas he completed his university education when he was 21, Wasantha Mudalige who is 31 is still in university. “A student can be given only one extra year. After that they would have to leave the University,” the President emphasized.

The proposal, if implemented, would make students focus more on their academic activities than redirect their energies towards radical politics dominating our universities today. Students will concentrate more on their academic activities than get involved in anarchic pursuits which unfortunately is the case today, since they will not be getting an extra chance.

It is clear that those engaged in sadistic ragging of freshers form the bulk of the students who had overstayed their university tenures and are making a nuisance of themselves to others by disrupting their academic careers.

These segments largely hail from depressed social classes and underprivileged backgrounds and carry heavy chips of their shoulders. These are mostly students of the Arts Faculties with little prospect of being gainfully employed due to the nature of the subjects involved which do not cater to the modern day job demands. Their lack of knowledge of English which they derisively refer to as the Kaduwa (Sword) too has added to their feeling of inferiority. Thus they view all other students with envious eyes and take out their frustrations on these hapless souls.

It is also these types that form the bulk of radical political parties that are seen protesting day in and day out, making attempts to topple democratically-elected Governments. The President's proposal will no doubt please all University dons who are waging a losing battle to rein in unrest in campuses.

There is no reason for students to remain in Universities longer than necessary. If they fail in their exams in the first attempt, they should be given only one other chance. Thereafter, they should leave the campuses and make way for others.

It is also strange how students such as Mudalige had been allowed to remain in the University for so long since it is obvious that they were blocking the chances of others to get into campuses at a time when the intake is drastically limited. This deprives another student a chance to enter the University and pursue higher education ambitions.

Besides, the Government spends around Rs. 500,000 on a single student who gains university admission and this obviously covers the student’s legitimate tenure in University. Did the Government continue to spend this sum, repeatedly, on behalf of Mudalige during his near decade long stay in the University?

Now that a positive step has been taken to curtail unrest in Universities, the President should also apply the same drastic steps that he has taken to combat the illegitimate anti-Government protests to eradicate the menace of ragging from our campuses too. It is strange that the Aragalaya leaders who weep buckets for the Cost of Living burdens heaped on the public are maintaining a deafening silence when it came to the torture inflicted on freshers by senior students in campuses. Unless, those behind the sadistic ragging are members of the political party now in the forefront of the street protests and other agitations mentioned by President Wickremesinghe in Parliament. It is this same group that led protests against the establishment of SAITM which perhaps could have been the answer to the current scarcity of doctors in the country.

It could be seen that it is a destructive force whose underlying motive is sabotage of all Government programmes. There are also reports that the same groups inciting university students to agitate are now trying to infiltrate schools. According to a media report quoting State Minister of Defence Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon, a political party responsible for bringing university students out onto the streets for protests had already made inroads into schools in Colombo, Polonnaruwa and Embilipitiya.

Defence authorities should consider this matter seriously and make immediate inquiries to ascertain the truth and deal with the matter firmly and decisively. This is a dangerous development that has parallels with the situation in 1988/89. Then too, the JVP which had launched its second uprising against the State went to schools and got both students and teachers on to the roads to support their campaign to overthrow the Government. In this context one could not ignore the pedigree of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) which is an offshoot of the JVP - of course with a more radical bent.

Consideration of human rights and such niceties should not stand in the way of combating such dangerous trends. As President Wickremesinghe said, anarchic violence cannot be allowed to encroach on human rights. Human rights cannot be used to create violence and anarchy. Those who cause violence in the name of human rights should not be protected.


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