Sri Lanka’s main university students’ union, The Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) is charging that the government has a plan to ban it. The alleged attempt by the government to ban the IUSF is a move towards a destroying the free education system and arrange the environment to set up private universities.
Sri Lankan Higher Education Ministry is creating various fabricated stories to ban IUSF as IUSF is the only barrier to implement Education Privatization. IUSF is ready fight against government plan though they ban the union without proving any reason said IUSF Convener, Sanjeewa Bandara.
IUSF, considered as major students’ union which is functioning majority of state universities and struggle against the government education privatization. IUSF was established in 1978 and comprises student unions representing 10 main universities and 6 other Higher Education institutions in Sri Lanka.
Due to university students’ heavy demonstrations and resistance which led by IUSF on January this year,Sri Lankan Higher Education Ministry had to temporarily withdraw the proposed Private University Bill.
Meanwhile Sri Lankan government has denied any plans to ban the IUSF and says there is no truth of the reports.
“Ministry did not have any plans to ban the IUSF or any students union but the Ministry is inquiring into the allegations against the IUSF by another student union. We are investigating two separate serious ragging cases”.
“Ministry would take stern action against any student or students’ unions found guilty of being engaged in ragging students” Higher Education Ministry Secretary Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne told.
Higher Education Ministry has received a secret video of a ragging incident. This video shows that fresheres are forced to physical and mental violence by seniors. According to the video the location has been identified as Ruhunu University and the investigation will be conduct to identify those who are in the video.
Higher Education Minister S B Dissanayeke said that they received a letter from female students that they had been sexually harmed inside the Colombo University. According to the contents in the letter, they pleaded from the authorities to take immediate action against this to prevent future incidents. Special team has appointed to investigate this incident.
The University Independent Conversion Movement (UICM), affiliated to the Sri Lankan government has allegedly accused the IUSF of being responsible for ragging incidents and other acts of violence in universities. Also UICM declared that it will to go before the courts demanding the ban of IUSF.
UICM convenor Yukthi Ekadeera said that the IUSF is responsible for the ragging taking place in state universities and at the moment about 6,000 students have left the universities who are unable to face the ragging.
Meanwhile several organizations have showed their negative response for the government decision. Socialist Students Union, a student union affiliated to Sri Lanka's Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) says it would not allow the government to ban any students union in the country. Nalinda Jayatissa, National Organizer of the Socialist Students Union, said that the attempt to ban the IUSF is part of suppress students and student movements. He further said that free education system in the country could be safeguarded only by defeating evils against it.
Bandara told that UICM has a close links with the government. He further said that at least 6% of the GDP should allocate for the education sector but present government has only allocated 1.3 %. Government is practicing education privatization and going to set up private colleges and private universities.
“State universities are not expanded. Universities are facing financial problems. Government is not paying bursaries and scholarship payment properly. Society should stand against this movement. Join hands with us, we are ready to lead” he said.
Keeping the vision “save free education and against to the privatizing education”, IUSF has done a great service to protect free education in the country throughout the history.
Finally he said that Police attacks, tear gases, bullets, courts and prisons cannot stop our struggle to protect free education.