Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sri Lankan universities commit suicide

You told me how 25 of the 29 people in your important government office, provincial level, do no work at all. Is it any surprise? They all got their diplomas from __ University. I've been there and I've seen how things work. I should say I've been there numerous times over a three year period in various teaching and jurying capacities. And I see how things work. How teachers teach. How students are taught. How students are assessed. For someone from outside it is appalling to observe this. Maybe your professor sensed how deeply appalled I was by the work he was doing with students. Maybe that's why he forgot to get in touch with me when the term began again. 

How do things work at __ University? And I wonder, am I doing them a favor to not disclose who they are or am I perpetuating the sad waste of resources, human and otherwise that they practice through, can I say it?--their worst-practice practices? Well practice makes perfect and there at __ University they have developed a perfect practice for lies, deceit, unaccountability, and not getting anything done. By the way it's not just your office where people don't work. There's not a sector of Sri Lankan society I've encountered where people work. So you're right there with the norm. Sri Lankan students are taught to not work in the universities they strive so hard to get into. 

Not only that. Students are ragged when they enter university. All of them. Not just a few wild fraternity boys. Everyone who enters university in every faculty, girls and boys, are ragged. What is ragging? It's a kind of communal, quite brutal hazing experience. You've conveniently pinned the blame for ragging on the British oppressors. But you love it. Quite like the tea plantation slavery they introduced and which you, with such gusto, have finessed into a product for tourism and export. Ragging. It's a form of slavery that it brutalizes and oppresses. And it goes on for weeks. It's meant to forge relationships and make everybody "equal." Somehow you don't see it but ragging rips at the fabric of your society. Undermines education. Destroys inquiry. Forbids questioning. Ragging inculcates bullying and submissiveness as strategies for "success." 

Ragging results in suicide. And truly. Ragging is one of those things you do so well in your society. It is not just individual suicides you cause. Ragging kills your learning culture at just the point in a young person's life when learning should mean everything. Strange thing. Some few people who stand up against ragging are ostracized at your universities. Rules made to curtail ragging or at least to attenuate it are protested by students! People here want ragging. It's your culture of bullying and submissiveness. Your culture of slavery. Ragging perpetuates these fine cultural features of yours. And it feeds into more of the same behaviors. Not just in government offices. In the government itself. How do you expect ever to reach the goal of "good governance" when you literally teach bad governance at your institutions of higher learning?

How does it happen, this doing nothing, once the weeks or months of ragging are finished for the year? Your university system is permeated through and through by a system of carelessness, as in not caring. Who cares if a student has put a few hours' work into an eight week project. Pass them! Who cares if a student didn't show up to class half the time? Pass them. What if the quality of work is so poor, so passionately poor, that it fails to make a passing standard by any university-level standard? Pass them!

So they are passed like a batch, which they are called, like so many biscuits, and they get their certificates. With a certificate you can get a job. You've passed. Once you get a government job, which everybody covets, whether the pay is good or not, you are in forever. And with your outstanding training you know just what to do. Nothing. That's the way to succeed, indeed survive. Plus the lessons you learned from ragging and being ragged. When you are in the position of bullying, be a bully. And when you are meant to be submissive, submit. Because that's what you were taught to do. 

By doing nothing, which you were taught so well to do at your institutions of higher learning you really are perpetuating a system where nothing gets done, and where people are rewarded for doing nothing. This rot from within carries the sad appellation of a "university education." It's the key to success here. It's simple. It's University 101 in Sri Lanka. 


  1. Sad but interesting. Would appreciate more insights into the working of the local universities.

  2. //Students are ragged when they enter university. All of them. Not just a few wild fraternity boys. Everyone who enters university in every faculty, girls and boys, are ragged//
    Not true. I was educated in University of Colombo. Never been ragged. Never have ragged.

    I'm genuinely sorry to hear about your negative experience. But my university experience has been the complete opposite. I feel that you are generalising an entire population based on a sample. May I ask what universities and faculties your perceptions are based on?