Feature Article

Ethnic discrimination in student enrollment exposes reconciliation farce: Tamil academic

[TamilNet, Saturday, 23 July 2016, 23:09 GMT]
Reconciliation is about change of attitude in the minds of people. The authorities should have set precedence for such transformation through egalitarian practices. But, what has taken place on the ground was in sharp contradiction, especially in the practice of student selection to the universities in the island, said Senior Lecturer Dr J. Kennedy from the Faculty of Arts & Culture at the Eastern University in an interview to TamilNet on Saturday. Stating that proper investigations should reveal the patterns, the academic from the Department of Languages at the main Vanthaa'ru-moolai campus of the Eastern University said he personally believed external sources were influencing certain sections of Sinhala students to behave in a supremacist manner. Colombo's Ministry of Higher Education and the University Grants Commission (UGC) should prove their bona fides, he said.

Tamil politicians should not deviate from addressing the concerns of Tamil students and academics, especially at a time when the issue has gained political and media attention in the South, the academic from the Eastern University said.



According to UGC's figures on student selection for the academic year of 2014-2015, there were 655 Sinhala, 435 Tamil and 207 Muslim students, selected by Colombo authorities for enrollment at the Eastern University.

There are 250 Sinhalese, 42 Tamil and 18 Muslim students enrolled at the Faculty of Science alone. Similarly, there are 188 Sinhalese, 75 Tamils and 11 Muslims selected to the Faculty of Management and Commerce for 2014-2015.

This was in sharp contradiction to the intention behind the concept of regional universities, Dr Kennedy said.

Even if some would try to justify the large number of Sinhalese based on the ethnic ratio in the whole island, how could one explain the figure of 3,062 Sinhalese students getting enrolled to the Faculty of Commerce and Management in the academic year of 2014/2015 to the University of Sri Jayawardenepura in Colombo while only 115 were Tamils and only 63 Muslims, he questioned.

English is the medium of education at the Faculty of Science and at the Faculty of Management at the Eastern University. This has made it easier for authorities to admit Sinhala students in large numbers.

Earlier, Colombo was also trying to change the medium of education from Tamil to English at the Faculty of Arts, especially during the previous regime, he said.

It is important that Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims take part in the selection of new students to the universities, Kennedy said.

The UGC itself comprises of predominantly Sinhalese leaders, he added.

The SL Government itself had stated this year that the people could mark Mu'l'livaaykkaal Remembrance. But, when the Eastern University students observed it and posted something to Facebook, a violent dispute was engineered against them at Vanthaa'ru-moolai campus.

Following the violent incident, Tamil students peacefully staged a one-hour protest. But, on the following day, a section of Sinhalese students staged a blockade against academic, non-academic and administrative staff. In response, the non-academic and administrative staff boycotted their work for one day and the academic staff were on a 10-day protest demanding disciplinary action, Dr Kennedy said explaining the events of dispute.


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