Disgruntled elements sabotage education with ulterior motives, says
Colombo University VC
Vice Chancellor of the
Dr. Kumara Hiriburegama
Vice Chancellor of the Colombo University Dr. Kumara Hiriburegama
said disgruntled elements sabotaged the registration of new students at
the "Telawala" hostel for female undergraduates and effectively blocked
the commencement of studies for the new undergraduates, because studies
could not commence without registering students. He said that the
saboteurs gave the wrong interpretation by showing only partially built
parts of the building thus misleading the public and the media. Only the
top floor of the building was completed with all facilities at that time
and the second floor was partially complete as the renovations were
delayed due to unavoidable circumstances. As it is an old building, many
unexpected obstacles relating to the structure of the building, had to
be dealt with, he said.
It was unfortunate that undergraduates were used by some elements for
their political gains and for other hidden agendas. The Colombo
University authorities acknowledge that undergraduates need hostel
facilities, especially those from rural areas as Colombo city is left
with limited space. Some elements from outside the university misled
these undergraduates and even their parents.
He rejected allegations that hostel fees were to be increased. The
students are charged only 2000 rupees for the whole year which amounts
to about 5.50 per day. New students have to pay 1000 rupees as one time
registration fee. This amount has been used to mislead the students and
the public. About 44 students had been taken there earlier and shown the
building being constructed. There had been no protests at that time.
"The majority of the students are well behaved. only a handful of
them engage in disruptive activities due to brainwashing by some
elements who are staying outside of the Universities. These people want
to disrupt education and create chaos in the country. They take
advantage of the students coming specially from rural areas who need
support when they come to live in cities", he said.
hostel. Pix: By Vipula amerasinghe
The Colombo University will not be relocated in another area. A
university is important to a city and its environs as those contribute
to the community by way of research and development. Universities in
other countries as well as Colombo University are following this
concept. All development will take place at the same locations of the
He said that people with vested interests such as Non Governmental
Organisations (NGO) are behind disruptions to university education.
NGO's are loosing their clout in the University system since they are
getting exposed at present. These elements instigate agitations together
with some people in the university, he said. This is evident by the fact
that the undergraduates who are protesting usually have enough funds to
sustain themselves irrespective of the duration. The protest was timed
for UNHRC sessions in Geneva and they expected a clash with police.
Dr. Kumara Hiriburegama said that 'Telawala Hostel Redevelopment
Project' has been designed on the 'University Residencies' concept with
facilities on par with international standards. He said that it was
built as a green building with mechanisms for rain water harvesting,
sewerage recycling and ventilation is maximised to reduce power costs.
The 1 and 2 floors of the building has residential facilities which
include modern furniture and bathroom fittings, not found at other
Universities. The ground floor has the conference area, library and
reading area, sports and recreational facilities. It can be used as a
centre to exchange international students. It is an integrated human
development project not just a hostel, he said. It is a pilot project on
a new concept which is to be implemented by other Universities later.
The Vice Chancellor said that some people in the University were
being tempted by the NGO money and they engage in anti national
activities. They misuse their academic freedom.
He said that such people only speak about their rights but not about
their responsibilities. University academics should research on subjects
that are useful to the country. Research is not useful if development is
not followed with it. Development should lead to production and
manufacturing. It is of no use if research is conducted and hand over
the findings to another country to produce goods.
The universities in other countries have more autonomy where they can
take decisions on developing and administration of the universities,
which is lacking in Sri Lanka. It is very difficult to progress fast
without a greater degree of autonomy as the present systems and
procedures are time consuming. Even to construct a building, it takes
The buildings at the Colombo University including Telawala hostel,
are being built by the Army on voluntary basis. Dr. Hiriburegama said
that the University provides building materials and the Army is doing
professional work with constructions. The cost has been reduced
drastically as the Army is working on the sites on a voluntary basis as
their contribution towards development of education in Sri Lanka.