Category Archives: education policy

Jane Russell on Sri Lankan Political History in Debate with Kumarasingham’s Readings

From London the historian and scholar  Jane Russell has entered an extensive set of comments on Harshan Kumarasingham’s Heidelberg essay of 2013 –reprinted in Thuppahi in 2014. Given its length and Russell’s background (see below) it deserves wider exposure in the hope that debate will be promoted. I am therefore deleting its original location and posting it as a separate item.

 Russell  Kumarasingham

  1. HARSHAN kUMARASINGHAM”s “The Deceptive Tranquillity surrounding Sri Lankan Independence: ‘The Jewel of the East yet has its Flaws’,”  is an interesting paper with which I broadly agree, despite a tendency by the author to sacrifice judgement in favour of rhetoric. However, Dr. Harshan Kumarasingham has gone for the elegant historical narrative rather than seeking to explore and analyse some of the more nuanced, underlying factors that may help to understand the spiralling of Ceylon, cited by the British as ‘ the Premier Crown Colony” at independence in 1947, into Sri Lanka, characterised by the west at the turn of the 21st century as a terrorist-riven semi-failed state. I hope the following will help to redress this.

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Lanka’s Sovereignty as a Lilliput amidst Several Gullivers in the World Order

Rajiva Wijesinha,  in The Island, 9  November 2016, where the chosen title runsIgnoring the sovereignty of the Sri Lankan nation” … Highlights and colouring  have been added to aid the reader. Editor, Thuppahi

The contempt in leading elements of the current government for the interests of Sri Lanka as a sovereign nation had long puzzled and worried me. A clue to its possible origins emerged recently when I was looking at Michael Roberts’ collection of ‘Documents of the Ceylon National Congress and Nationalist Politics in Ceylon, 1929-1950’. Roberts has there, on p 2802 of Volume 4, an article by J R Jayewardene that recommends ‘An Indo-Lanka Federation’. He does say that ‘It is not possible here to define the status of Lanka in such a federation’, but he claims that amongst important conditions to be fulfilled are that ‘India and Lanka must be one unit for the purpose of defence’ and ‘In the Federal Legislature, Lanka must be accorded a status equivalent to the status of the Indian Provinces’.

jrj-cbo-tel young Jr Jayewardene rg-senanayake RG Senanayake

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Sri Lanka leads World in Path to Eliminate Malaria

Sarah Boseley, in The Guardian Weekly, 22 September 2016, where the title reads Beginning of the End for Malaria,” ... https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/09/malaria-sri-lanka-china-iran-malaysia-end-for-disease 

Hopes of eliminating malaria from more than 30 countries with a total population of 2 billion have risen following the successful removal of the disease from Sri Lanka. Public health officials said 13 countries, including Argentina and Turkey, had reported no cases for at least a year and may well follow the success of Sri Lanka, which this week declared itself malaria-free after meeting the criterion of going three years without an infection. By the end of the decade, another 21 countries, including China, Malaysia and Iran, could be free of the disease, which kills 400,000 people, mostly babies and pregnant women, every year.

Public health officials believe that in years to come the elimination from Sri Lanka, highly symbolic because the island came within a hair’s breadth of defeating malaria more than 50 years ago, may be regarded as the beginning of the end for the disease.

aa-lanka-malaria-11-eranga-j-for-ap A Sri Lankan worker fumigates buildings to control mosquitoes in Colombo. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP
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Mahinda Rajapaksa commences Process of Losing the Peace, May-June 2009

Michael Roberts, drafted on 23rd May and printed in  Frontline, 26/12 of 6-19 June 2009. The original title was “Some Pillars for Lanka’s Future.” The reproduction here has been supplemented by the use of highlighting colours in blue and red… and different pictorial illustrations to that in Frontline.

One can win the War, but lose the Peace.” A cliche this may be, but it is also a hoary truism that looms over the post-war scenario in Sri Lanka. The triumphant Sri Lankan government now has to address the human terrain rather than the fields of battle. In facing this challenge, both government and people concerned must attend to another truism: as Sinnappah Arasaratnam pointed out long ago, extremisms have been feeding off each other and undermining political compromise in Sri Lanka over a long period of time. Now, apart from the well-known Sinhala chauvinist forces outside and within the Rajapaksa government, we must attend to the Tamil chauvinist forces in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and elsewhere in Sri Lanka, in Tamil Nadu and in the ranks of the vociferous Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora across the world. These forces have to be undermined.

mr-and-statuesmr-proudmr-as-raja

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Sustaining Research at Peradeniya Arts Faculty: Pathways

GERADL PEIRISGerald Peiris, in a Talk entitled ‘For a Sustainable Tradition of Research in the Peradeniya Faculty of Arts’

 The Chief Guest, Dr. R. H. S. Samaratunga; Vice-Chancellor, Professor Upul Dissanayake; Chairman, Professor Shantha Hennayake; distinguished participants of the conference,  I thank the Vice-Chancellor and the organising committee for inviting me to make this presentation. Apart from the honour, any visit to the university is, to me, a sentimental journey down the memory lane stretching back almost exactly 60 years to July 1956 when I came here as a first-year student..

I should begin with a comment on the conference theme –‘Unleashing Minds to Create a Sustainable Future’– by stating that it would be prudent to make it more explicit with an addition of a few words for it to read: ‘Unleashing minds to create a sustainable future of peace and prosperity for the people of Sri Lanka’ to clarify that what we expect is not, say, a future of dependence and subservience to the global powers, not a future as a component of the Indian federation, not a future that discards our treasured cultural heritage, and  not even a fancifully imagined future as “The Knowledge Hub” of Asia, or of South Asia or of the Indian Ocean periphery.

PERA 22

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A Protest against the Campaign to Privatise Education

Geethika Dharmasinghe, courtesy of the Daily Mirror, 27 July 2016, where the title is Is Free Education a boon or a bane?”

Recently we witnessed a prominent “civil society activist” expressing views in favour of the privatisation of education at a meeting organised by ‘Purawasi Balaya’ garnering displeasure from a large section of the audience.  Who really are those in the Purawasi Balaya? After campaigning against the Rajapaksa regime, they continue to support the current government’s political, social and economic policies promoted especially by the ruling coterie who believe in neo-liberal fundamentalism. This stratum of Sri Lankan society represented by the “civil society” has emerged very recently and does not have much grounding within the social and economic history of the country. They do not fall under the category of “nobodies” who turned into “somebodies” during the colonial period that Dr. Kumari Jayawardena talks about in her famous treatise.

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Kavuda Rajā!! The Jaffna University Clash Clarified: Puritanical Nationalism

Rajan Hoole et al,** courtesy of The Island. 28 July 2016, where the title is Fallout of freshers’ welcome fiasco in Jaffna: Is our university system equal to challenge of sectarianism?”

The following record of the welcome event is compiled from the experiences of several members of the Science Faculty in Jaffna, who were present. The event is a warning when taken alongside sectarian violence in other Lankan universities, recently in Sabaragamuva, Uva Wellassa and Eastern, where the response of the authorities has been constrained by a number of factors, including local prejudices and peer pressures, bias in the university security services and local readings of the wishes of the authorities in Colombo. The change in attitude of the authorities after the regime change of 8th January 2015 is reflected in their wanting as far as possible for the problems to be tackled on local initiative. The universities should use this opportunity to address, in their locality, causes that threaten the integrity of university values and education. These causes, if left to follow their course, would make peaceful coexistence and pluralism even harder to achieve.

jaffna-university-clash-1=COL TEL Pic from http://colombogazette.com/2016/07/17/attempt-to-spread-racial-hatred-using-jaffna-clash-condemned/ Continue reading

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