It would be wise to heed this
Some sections of
the young of this country are alarmed and angry. On top of the
universities being non-functional for weeks, came the shocks
over the Z-score-linked cluster of questions which had scores of
our youngsters in throes of fury and anguish. It would be the
height of foolishness for the government to remain idly by while
these problems fester and a degree of relief could be derived
from the fact that some remedial measures are now underway in
respect of the university admissions issue.
While the country waits in eager anxiety for positive moves
by the state to resolve the work stoppage by university Dons
over salary and other grievances, a special communiqué was
issued under the hand of Higher Education Minister S.B.
Dissanayake, calling on the academics to return to work on July
30, while mentioning some other matters of relevance. This
special communiqué is reproduced by us on our front page today
and it is our hope that it would prove effective in resolving
the crisis in our universities.
We believe the academics would be acting in the best
interests of this country by responding positively to this call
to return to duty.
This country is witness to the devastating consequences of
allowing youth grievances to go unaddressed.
The 30 year conflict, which all but left Sri Lanka in ruins,
was closely bound up with the unresolved issues of some sections
of this country's Northern youth.
The South of Sri Lanka too was rocked by youth insurgencies
and these occurred in 1972 and 1989-1990. We are yet to fully
resolve the issues that triggered these armed insurgencies and
the country could not be said to be completely free of the
threat of youth unrest-linked violence. Accordingly, it would be
in the national interest for our striking Dons to heed the
state's call to resume their duties.
There are thousands of university undergraduates who are
currently in a state of bitter frustration over the interruption
of their higher studies and it would be the height of negligence
for the supposedly enlightened and educated sections of our
adult population to ignore the condition of these troubled
It is not our point that all these youngsters are
violence-prone but the likelihood is great that the more
volatile among them would come under the sway of those
destructive political forces which are on a collision course
with the state.
Moreover, it is only a matter of time before those whose
hopes are frustrated, take to militant politics with a view to
changing their condition. This being the case, it would be
dangerously irresponsible of our university lecturers to allow
their wards to wither in frustration and disenchantment.
We call on the Dons to return to their duties and seek to
remain engaged with the state with the aim of resolving their
grievances. In fact, the Dons are now being seen as working
against the national interest by very many as a result of their
prolonged strike action. These perceptions, our Dons should
consider as a slur on their dignity.
The state, on the other hand, should seek to advance the
current fitful dialogue with the striking academics, and, to the
extent possible, resolve their grievances.
We believe a closer and more earnest dialogue between the
parties would prove fruitful. The academics should seek what is
realistic and the state should concede what is reasonable and
fair of these demands.
However, we are obliged to point out that our academics are
not being exemplary at all by their general approach to
resolving their grievances. They are in no way helping to
eradicate indiscipline in this country by resorting to strike
The volatile among the younger generation, who are in need of
role models with regard to exemplary living, are bound to take
after their striking teachers and adopt the same uncompromising,
somewhat militant attitude when seeking to resolve their issues.
Militancy, however, is not at all helpful in