COLOMBO: The protest conducted by the students of Rajarata University was called off after an assurance given to the agitators by Higher Education Minister Prof. Wiswa Warnapala that the Ministry would take immediate action to address students’ grievances. The Minister agreed to solve most of the demands of the students at the meeting held at the Higher Education Ministry with ten members of the students’ union yesterday afternoon.
The Minister said that he has submitted a Cabinet paper last Wednesday and received the Cabinet approval to construct two hostels which would facilitate accommodation of 800 students. Accordingly, the Government has allocated Rs. 360 million for the construction of two separate hostels as an initial step towards addressing the burning problems confronting the Rajarata University. The Minister assured that the Higher Education Ministry would take immediate action on this issue.
Speaking on the students’ demand to take over the Police quarters for use as university hostels, the Minister said that the Higher Education Minister has to discuss the matter with the Police Department and Ministry of Defence .
Though this process will take some time, the Higher Education Ministry will attend to this as a matter of urgency after the students asked for a dead-line. But the students pointed out that the Ministry had gone back on it’s word on earlier occasions . According to the students they received the same assurance six months ago but no action had been taken up todate.
The Minister advised the Chairman of the UGC to address the issue of the dearth of academic staff with immediate effect.
The UGC Chairman pointed out, despite the continuous advertisements in papers it was difficult to attract qualified lecturers. Hence Prof. Warnapala advised the UGC Chairman to look into the possibility of granting an incentive allowance aiming to attract lecturers. In addition steps will be taken to solve the drinking water problem since the students complained that they lack this basic need.
Dharma Sri Abeyratne http://www.dailynews.lk/2007/07/31/news21.asp