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Government Gazette

Pre-university training and the issue of discipline

We revert to the issue of the prospects of our youth in view of the urgency of the need to create for them a better tomorrow.

The country is having yet another assurance from the authorities that ragging will be eliminated from our university campuses and there is no doubt that this vital item of news would be welcomed hugely by all right-thinking sections. This time around we are having this reassurance from no less a person than Higher Education Minister S B Dissanayake and all that we could say is that he would be having the fullest backing of all civilized sections of society in this long-overdue initiative.

The Higher Education Minister’s reassurance comes at a time when the senior academic staff of our universities are being called upon by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to put country above self-interest and we hope that these vital pronouncements would have the effect of gearing our institutions of higher learning in the direction of socially-responsible conduct and conscientiousness. The state’s position with regard to salary increments and the like has been clarified to the Dons and all responsible sections would be looking forward to value-oriented conduct on the part of our academic staff from now on.

We are obliged to point out that an attempt on the part of sections of our university academic staff to take on the state in a confrontational fashion on issues facing them, is bound to have very disquieting spill-over effects on the respective student communities and we take this opportunity to call upon our Dons to refrain from modes of conduct which would not prove exemplary. This is on account of the fact that much cannot be expected of our undergraduates, in terms of right conduct, if their teachers are not seen as conforming to the highest standards of good conduct.

Coming back to ragging, we do hope that no stone would be left unturned in the search for remedial action against the lingering menace. We know for a fact that all undergraduates are required to submit a formal undertaking that they would refrain from ragging but the evil is apparently continuing unabated. In fact, the problem is reportedly taking on newer and more disturbing forms with certain freshers now taking it on themselves to behave in an abusive fashion towards their own incoming colleagues to campus. This amounts to standing the general pattern in ragging on its head.

What this proves is that the evil of ragging is continuing and a bold and systematic effort must be made by the state to stamp out the wasting disease from our midst.

Practical problems are bound to crop-up in carrying out these initiatives but these should not be made excuses to do nothing or little in the face of this problem. We wish to emphasize that the university authorities should not hesitate to carry out the maximum punitive measures permissible in these circumstances, on undergraduates who violate their formal undertakings with regard to ragging.

It must be also considered that erring undergraduates, in the ragging context, do not usually act on their own. They may be tied-up with students’ unions which are in turn in league with political forces which are hostile towards the state. Here too, some complex questions may need to be faced, but the government has no choice but to govern and the latter is obliged to use all the legitimate means at its command to neutralize these hostile elements. Politics per se is not, of course, objectionable but destructive politics bode ill for all, and this brand of politics must be shown the door.

Besides the state and university authorities, the undergraduate community too is obliged to take some enlightened initiatives towards ending this scourge of ragging. As has been often observed, ragging is resorted to by a minority of undergraduates. It is most rampant in the Arts faculties and it could be hypothesized that a sense of frustration among these students about their life prospects could be impelling them to vent their spleen, so to speak, on their new colleagues.

Providing hope about the future to these erring students is the most immediate need but the majority of the undergraduates who are peace-loving, need to take it on themselves to more boldly and vigorously oppose ragging and convince their ‘rag masters’ of the foolish and counterproductive nature of their behaviour. In other words, an anti-ragging movement among undergraduates and others concerned, should take on steam and strength.

Besides, the current pre-university training programmes being conducted for our undergraduates need to be looked at more closely. These three-week training programmes aim at ushering a healthy mind in a healthy body, and could be considered windows to the world, in that they prepare our youngsters for the rough and tumble of the world outside. In fact, these training sessions could enable them to take on the challenges within universities and outside with greater confidence.

The question could be raised: if there are Scouts and Girl Guides Movements which are already serving useful purposes, why not these training camps, which are aimed at disciplining our youth, mentally and physically? We would need to look at these projects with the freshest of perspectives, if we are to recognize their merits.

Sri Lanka’s humanitarian effort

During the period January 2008 to early May 2009, 58,393 metric tons of essential items were sent to Killinochchi and Mullaithivu districts alone. This was in addition to the excess paddy available in the districts, the buffer stocks maintained on location and 33,383 metric tons supplied to co-operative outlets during 2008 up to January 2009.

Full Story

‘Blessed are the girls, for they will not be forced to bed with their fathers’

The Morning Inspection - Malinda

Everyone living in Sri Lanka, including foreigners, be they tourists, business persons, professionals, volunteers, students, INGO employees, diplomats and other workers in foreign missions and UN personnel (and later, those working for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission), from 1983 to May 2009 were potential victims to bomb explosions, suicide attacks and other crimes against humanity planned and executed by the LTTE.

Full Story

HRW and its fear of engagement and discussion

Amongst the more depressing discoveries of the last few years has been the realization that so-called human rights organizations are totally unwilling to discuss matters with transparency. I found this initially with Human Rights Watch (HRW) when, in 2007, they issued an outrageous press release about what they claimed were indiscriminate attacks on civilians by the Sri Lankan forces, when in fact their detailed report on the retaking of the East recorded only one instance of civilian casualties.

Full Story

 

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