An appeal by 'The Federation of University Teachers' Associations (FUTA)'

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The following appeal is shared by IDEAS.  IDEAs or the International Development Economics Associates is committed to building a pluralistic network of committed researchers, teachers and other economists interested in advancing progressive heterodox approaches to critically analysing and addressing the problems of economic development processes.

This is a statement of solidarity in response to the appeal by 'The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA)' of Sri Lanka in support of a cross university national strike for increased state funding and reforms in education. It is addressed to the Sri Lankan government, urging it to engage with the striking academic community, students and teachers, for a comprehensive consultation over reform of public education system and increased state funding in education which has dwindled to one of the lowest in the world in just six to seven years from 2.9% of GDP in 2005 to 1.85% at present. Over the years the gains made through free education have been slowly eroded. With neoliberal reforms of the educational system, there is now an attempt to pass on the cost of education to parents and students, at a time when people are still struggling to rebuild their lives and livelihoods in the post war context. The appeal by university of Colombo teachers' association sent as an attachment here gives all details. The statement along with some of the signatories is also attached here.


They have especially asked for support from economists all over the world. Please read the appeal and send your signature along with your affiliation and country to the following email:


An Appeal to Address the Education Crisis in Sri Lanka

We, as economists, academics and social activists are deeply concerned about the continuing crisis in the education sector in Sri Lanka. Austerity measures and attacks on social welfare in many countries have been disenfranchising children and youth from education as a central avenue for social equity. This has led to protests and social unrest in many countries across the board.

In decades past, we saw social and human development with free education and health in Sri Lanka, to be a model worthy of emulation by other countries. But insurrections, civil war, increasing militarisation and authoritarianism over the years, have made a deep dent in the democratic structure of society. Today, in the post war era in Sri Lanka, we look to the country to rebuild its social foundations that would serve to democratize and further improve the quality of life for people. Investing in a robust education system, as is well known, will leave an indelible mark on this rebuilding process. However, to the contrary, investment in education has been decreasing to where state expenditure in education is now 1.86% of the GDP; the lowest in South Asia and one of the lowest in the world. Such drastic declines in state investment are related to the mounting issues in the education sector in Sri Lanka. This crisis is compounded by reports of rural school closures, problems in schools and university entrance exams and the politicisation and militarisation of the education space.

Such a predicament has led to the recent university teachers strike action, agitations by teachers' unions and mounting protests by students. These interventions have brought our attention to the crisis of education in Sri Lanka. We stand in solidarity with teachers, academics and students in Sri Lanka who have taken it upon themselves to shed some light on this crisis.

At a time when the government of SriLanka has reportedly held out a new promise to its people, we appeal to the Government of Sri Lanka, university and teachers' unions, students’ movements and parents' organisations, and foreign aid donors to engage the crisis in education and arrive at a solution that can again rebuild the foundations for a democratic and prosperous society. The world is watching Sri Lanka to see if past achievements in education will again be revitalised. Progress will require the highest priorities of the State, and the Government of Sri Lanka should increase state spending in education to the order of 6% of GDP, which has been recommended by UNESCO and agreed to by the Government of Sri Lanka in international forums. Indeed, the greatest investments any country can make are in its citizens, which include teachers and students. Our appeal to address the crisis in education is as much about education as it is about building the foundation of democracy. Prioritising and democratizing education is imperative to the process of rebuilding a just and prosperous society. As those invested in accessible, fair and just education for all persons, across the world, we strongly urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take immediate note of the education crisis, negotiate with teachers' and university teachers unions in good faith, and put in place a vibrant process to address this serious concern.

Sd –
1. Prabhat Patnaik, UGC professor of economics, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi , India.
2. Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi , India.
3. C.P.Chandrasekhar, professor of economics, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi , India.
4. C. Rammanohar Reddy, Editor, Economic & Political Weekly, India.
5. Michael Liebowitz, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.




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