TamilWeek Apr 2, 2006
What ails the Jaffna University?

by S.R.
Chunnakam, Jaffna

The latest happenings at the Jaffna University (JU) spells disaster and
if the unruly undergraduates and politicians are going to decide who
the VC should be then one might as well write off the future of
University education in the North and East. This disease is bound to
catch on if not arrested now. There are of course some brilliant
graduates coming out of the JU, but majority of the graduates from JU
can’t find employment outside NE due to various reasons one of which
is their general standard.

This is my personal feeling from my association with some of them.
One contributory factor is the standing of the academic staff and there
are vacancies which have not been filled for quite some time. With this
attitude by the undergraduates and the politicians, how many well
qualified candidates would like to join the faculty even out of
patriotism? What sort of recognition will JU get outside NE within Sri
Lanka, leave alone overseas if they have only ‘yes men’ in the faculty?
If the politicians (the front men) wanted to express their views (with the
hidden hand behind them) it should have been taken up before the JU
Council started their deliberations in selecting the candidates not at
this stage when the names were selected by the Council and
forwarded to the President and he has made his decision.

One would have expected the JU to accept Prof. Hoole with open
arms. In addition to his high academic standing, it is well known that
Prof. Hoole calls a spade a spade and has exposed many a fraud and
other matters. Perhaps some at JU may be worried about this aspect
of Prof. Hoole. One would recall that sometime ago a highly qualified
medical Dr. couldn’t be appointed to an existing vacancy in the
medical faculty at the JU because of the protests from the existing staff
members who didn’t want an outsider to be appointed to a higher post.
What the JU lost, the Eastern University gained and the JU medical
Faculty stands still and the Medical Graduates stand in low esteem.

It will be an affront to the dignity of the President if he changes his
decision just to please the minority unruly undergraduates who are
being misled and the politicians who everybody knows are just a
mouthpiece for the hidden hand behind them. Though myself a Tamil
who grew up and completed his secondary education in the Jaffna
peninsula and wished the JU to grow up to be shining example to
others, I now feel just the opposite and it is my wish and hope that the
President will not change his mind and let the JU continue without a VC
as long as the present situation continues. Who are going to be the
losers? It will be the unruly minority and not one will feel sorry about
their plight. But one has to feel sorry for the silent majority
undergraduates who are in an unenviable position and who dare not
speak. Rajini Thiranagama’s end is still fresh in everybody’s memory.

Do the minority unruly undergraduates realize that if this state of
affairs continue then not only the academic year gets extended and
they will be that much older and have to compete with younger
graduates in addition to various other handicaps including the
standing of their faculty. Do they know that according to the press
reports the leaders and the politicians (the front men) have sent their
offspring overseas not only to continue their studies uninterrupted but
also get a better recognized degree so that after all the turmoil and
the JU graduates getting nowhere, the offspring can come back and
score over the misled, unruly undergraduates, being younger and with
a better recognized degree.

If the NE is to eventually stand on its own feet and develop, then the
Universities should be kept out of politics and left alone to progress
and not the way it is happening now. Universities are seats of learning
where one should be free to express different opinions for the benefit
of the future generation. All this may fall on deaf years but let me at
least get it out of my chest and have the satisfaction that my duty has
been done.
attempting to
shut down
Jan, 28, 2006
of tension
Jan 5, 2006