Category Archives: Articles

TNA is confused …

I remember reading Asanga Welikala’s analysis on TNA’s (Tamil National Alliance) response to the LLRC on http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/4439 few weeks back and he had rightly mentioned

Without conceptual clarity as to both how Tamil nationalism is politically articulated as well as the substantive constitutional claims it seeks to make, the TNA’s political strategy, in dealing especially with a recalcitrant and triumphalist regime in Colombo, risks confusion in theory and disarray in practice”

I wish to draw the attention of those who read this to highlight the utter confusion that TNA is in with regard to its position on LLRC and the need for an accountability process on the war crimes committed during the last phase of the war. While TNA has described the LLRC’s observations on constitutional reforms as “exceedingly vague” and “mostly rhetorical” they have not set out a serious critique of the overarching constitutional measures and “modest” proposals for the post-war Sri Lanka.

Let me not confuse you further on TNA’s confusion. TNA’s position on the recommendations of the LLRC, particularly on an accountability process highlighted that,

“…the need for an accountability process that meets international standards while delivering on the right of victims to truth, justice and reparations (including guarantees of non-recurrence) is an urgent and important one. Given the government’s failure to institute a process that meets these benchmarks, the TNA calls on the international community to institute measures that will advance accountability and encourage reconciliation in Sri Lanka in keeping with the recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts.”   

Irrespective of that position, TNA expressed its fullest support (http://www.adaderana.lk/news.php?nid=17263) to the draft resolution tabled by the USA at the UNHRC last week and it mainly includes,

“Noting with concern that the LLRC report does not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law,

1. Calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations in the LLRC report and take all necessary additional steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans,

2. Requests that the Government of Sri Lanka present a comprehensive action plan as expeditiously as possible detailing the steps the Government has taken and will take to implement the LLRC recommendations and also to address alleged violations of international law,

3. Encourages the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures to provide, and the Government of Sri Lanka to accept, advice and technical assistance on implementing those steps and requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a report to the Council on the provision of such assistance at its twenty-second session.” [http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/9147]

 This confusion raises few questions. Is TNA’s political agenda for Tamil Nationalism a mere strategy to gain power leaving them mere signifiers of ‘identity politics’ [Kaldor Mary in her essay on ‘The politics of New Wars’ use the term ‘identity politics’ to mean movements which mobilize around ethnic, racial or religious identity for the purpose of claiming state power]. Or is it that TNA is merely scapegoated by the diaspora leaders who fix the agenda for them as their financial supporters? Either way, TNA’s confusing position at this juncture put Tamil Nationalist struggle at a greater threat, a risk in the presence of a triumphalist ruler in the South.

The history has showed us that power politikal agendas have scattered the dreams of Tamil Nationalism. I only hope TNA will not repeat the same mistake once again.

UN has repeatedly failed in Sri Lanka’s confict: And this time …?

The recent history of UN interventions in any conflict has told us that the UN will only intervene when the various ruling blocks within the body consider it in their interests to do so. But what is there limit of ‘interest’? Whilst we have read and heard about timely UN interventions has saved major human catastrophes their reluctance to intervene in other cases have resulted in human tragedy, irrespective of the motives behind the decision. On the other hand, genuine UN military interventions and concerns at times make the whole situation much grave, causing thousands of loss for civilian lives, injuries or displacements.

 

In the case of Sri Lankan conflict, I fear that UN interventions to-date has not brought any notable fruitful outcomes. In its recent history, the Sri Lankan conflict has undergone three different phases: Ceased-Fire Agreement (CFA) and the Peace Process, War and Post-war context.

 

The Norway facilitated CFA and the entire peace process was an ideal window of opportunity to bring peace through dialogue to the country. In fact, UN failed to play an active role in the process in order to ensure its continuation. UN should have taken on a bigger role in the peace process if it wanted the ceasefire to be successfully implemented and lead to a permanent peace. UN could have definitely enhanced its role by pressuring both sides to increase the pace and the commitment to negotiation, by accepting to monitor the ceasefire, or by announcing retribution for both sides in case of non-compliance. At the failure of UN involvement, the ceasefire did not only loss even a little chance of evolving into long-lasting peace for Sri Lanka, but also exacerbated the conflict by allowing both parties to regroup and increase their fighting capabilities which ended up in a brutal war causing thousands of deaths.

 

Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, that was put out on March 31, 2011 openly admits UN’s failure during the final stages of war.

During the final stages of the war, the United Nations political organs and bodies failed to take actions that might have protected civilians…”  (Page vi)

Although it is recommended now to conduct a comprehensive review of actions by the United Nations system during the war in Sri Lanka during the war and aftermath, regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates, the human cost that occurred due to its inefficiency and unproductivity cannot be brought back.

 

Today, after nearly three years since the end of war UNHRC is getting ready to find the ‘truth’ hidden in the final phase of the way. While truth and reconciliation are crucial aspects of bringing peace to Sri Lanka, I would have expected UN to act much sensitively on the whole issue. Today’s UN intervention is to correct them after all what happened due to their non-intervention. It is probably their final chance to correct themselves in Sri Lanka. Most importantly, their first and the last intervention should not mark a beginning of another insurgency in Sri Lanka. It has a significant role in ensuring that this step would not be another ‘Syria friendly’ intervention, but ensure the ‘truth and accountability’ prevail without making further cost to the lives of innocent civilians in the country.

 

Reference:

Bouffard, Sonia and David Carment (2006) ‘The Sri Lankan Peace Process: A Critical Review’ in Journal of South Asian Development, Vol 1, No 2.

Rajakulendran, Victor (2007) ‘Is UN intervention a possibility in Sri Lanka?’ in www.responsibilitytoprotect.org

United Nations (2011) ‘Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka’ in www.un.org

Contemporary Conflict in the Southern Thailand: Challenges for Peacebuilding

I was fortunate to be a party of a group of young scholars who visited Thailand from Kashmir, Indonesia, Manipur, Nepal, Philippines and Sri Lanka for exchanging experiences of peace processes. We met up with various stakeholders within the community including the Military, Academics, Women’s’ network, peoples in the community, NGO activists and Southern Border Provinces Administrative Commission as part of the assignment prior to compiling a situational analysis of the conflict. My personal experiences and the limited discussions in Thailand highlight some key challenges for peacebuilding in the country.

 

It was strongly felt that Thailand, like many other countries in Asia is engaged in a struggle for sharing power between the centre and periphery. Discourse on ‘devolution’ and ‘decentralization’ of power seem to be in fact, distant from the general political discourse as well. ‘Religion’ or ‘communalism’ for that matter dominates the entire discourse same as in the context of Sri Lanka.

 

Whilst all the stakeholders we met up with, strongly believed in ‘dialogue’ as the way-out, there was no sign of initiation of a dialogue process any time soon. I fear the sentiment for ‘dialogue’ in the contemporary discourse might push all the stakeholders for it, without sufficient preparation for such a scenario. Contemporary phase of the conflict faces the challenge of lacking an organization or an individual who is working on technical expertise on facilitation strategies, conflict mapping, future scenario building etc.  for such a process.

 

Military presence although identified as ‘heavy’ in the conflict areas were ideally not as bad as in Northern Province in Sri Lanka in its post-war setting. However, their presence in socio-economic activities at large could and would be a definite threat for the democratic governance principles and structures of the state, especially considering the history of military governance in the country.

 

Within a very short period of time, conflict in Southern Thailand has been heavily internationalized. It reminds me of the period of 2001 to 2006 in Sri Lanka. I fear that the ‘genuine’ commitment of these international actors in the conflict may hinder the entire peaceprocess.

 

In compared to all the other conflicts in Asia, this conflict faces a unique challenge of not having a clear presence of the insurgents. My short visit have left me at cross-roads with this regard: whether it’s because of their military strategy as Al-Qaida or it’s because the conflict as a whole is at a pre-mature stage.

 

While these challenges as I see could be a reality, it is strongly felt that a Peace process or peacebuilding in Thailand for that matter should not be a hasty process.  It needs to build up necessary capacity, confidence and backup process to ensure success. In that process academic and technical support including assessments on the whole conflict is also important to provide a solid and professional input to such process.

 

Successful preparatory process is the timely need for the Southern Thailand (including the knowledge building among the community on devolution of powers and importance of dialogue) rather than rushing for a dialogue process at once. In that regard, taking lessons from similar South and South East Asian contexts will indeed be an asset for the country as well as its people.

 

International Icon Universities will aggravate the problems in our system

Article written by Supipi Jayawardena on January 5, 2012

 

There has been a constant debate in society for and against the government’s move to give legal recognition to private universities in Sri Lanka. Those who are in favour of the new policy direction argue the fact that a significant number of GCE (A/L) students who qualify for university education fail to secure a place in the universities and this condition has created a major socio-economic drawback as a country. This has produced a significant gap between the education the country offers and the labour market needs. Moreover, as many as 10,000 students not enrolled for free university education are supposed to be going out of Sri Lanka seeking foreign university education[1]. The brain drain from the country is eventually exacerbated as a major segment of these students who leave the country do not return to Sri Lanka following their graduation. Hence, there seem to be many factors that bring to focus the need to give legal recognition to private universities in Sri Lanka: other than the limited number of enrolments to public universities and brain drain, it is expected that private universities would have a wider range  of more practical and job-oriented programmes, will turn out graduates with a better command of language and developed soft skills and will not be influenced by  political parties and other hindering processes i.e. strikes.

 

The other segment of  society that opposes  this policy are those who seem to be vehemently against any kind of privatization of higher education in Sri Lanka mainly based on the argument that it will harm the present free education system that provides space for people of all classes to access education with no barriers. Another argument against the move to recognize the private universities in Sri Lanka explains the need to enhance the quality of education in the existing ones rather than increasing the numbers with no proper policy direction. Though the Sri Lankan university system has been in place for more than half a century, it is indeed pertinent to analyse carefully whether they had been successful in fulfilling their duty to the society. Traditional functions of universities, as I am aware, include mainly teaching and research. In their teaching activities, universities are expected to provide the professional training for high-level jobs, as well as education necessary for the development of the personalities. On the other hand, university research is expected to contribute to increase the body of theoretical knowledge as well as its application to policy directions in practice. We have heard how brilliantly the western universities performed to lay down the basis for the progress of mankind.  On the contrary, we see a university system being established in Sri Lanka based on the Western model, but without similar functions. Sri Lankan society never had the full benefit from having a university system as there was never a link between that system and the society. The needs of our society have never been the centre of our university activities and there have been no flexible adjustment to changing needs of the society. Research projects and methods adopted by our universities are still centred on Western problems, needs and conditions than that of Sri Lanka and have not brought any contribution to policy development in the country.

 

In a context where the existing university system has failed to fulfil its key functions, first and foremost it is doubtful whether the establishment of private universities would be able to provide a solution to the problems that the nation is undergoing since 1970s. As such if they intend to find a solution to the whole problem via establishment of private universities or branch campuses of foreign universities, that again is something the policy makers need to think about carefully, considering the long term impact than the short term once. It is expected that international icons such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Monash and LSE will come and set up their branches in Sri Lanka and the government has no need to worry about the quality and standard of such universities as they have already been ranked at the top in the world. But this very move might make the problems worse in few years’ time. These top-ranked international universities have designed their courses and their contents to meet the needs, issues and aspirations of their societies. When such programmes are taught here in Sri Lanka, they will indeed provide opportunities for the best in the lot to go to the main university expecting to retain the ‘essence’ within their society. The students who will graduate from these programmes would finally end up either going abroad seeking a labour market that will match their skill or will join the unemployed labour force with no match for the labour market need in Sri Lanka. In such a scenario, instead of having found a solution to the grave problems of the increased number of unemployed graduates and brain-drain, the new arrangements would lead to the problem getting worse.

 

Therefore, it is time for the government to play an active role if they are genuinely concerned about the problems in higher education in Sri Lanka. In that regard, it is most important for them to get the existing local universities to function and carry out their role in teaching and research. Secondly, in order to find a solution to the problem of the lack of opportunities for university education, the government should effectively use the limited resources and encourage public-private partnership and private sector investments in higher education which will effectively build that link between the educational system and the societal needs and aspirations that will add knowledge to address the issues in the Sri Lankan society and match our labour market needs.



[1] Premarathna, Ajantha (2011-11-02) ‘Private Universities: why oppose them?’, in www.asiatribune.com

Real politikal Challenges challenges for building Peace in Sri Lanka

Highlights from a working paper on ‘Building Peace in Sri Lanka: Real politikal challenges from post-war to a political solution’, by Supipi Jayawardena for Manish Thapa, ‘International Conflicts and Peacebuilding Challenges (Ed)’. New Century Publication, New Delhi, India

 

Post-war Sri Lanka has been facing many challenges to date; maintaining the largest number of IDPs in its history, resettling them, developing the war torn society, reconciliation efforts and peace building . People of Sri Lanka especially those from the North & East, look forward its political leadership to join hands to confront these challenges and work together on a common agenda towards reconciliation and peace building. No journey in the efforts of building peace is easy, but at the same time no goal is unachievable if the political stakeholders have the will, commitment and the vision to take this country out of current abyss. In fact, power politics seems to be paying a vital role that dominates the entire scenario at present.
As a former Prime Minister of India, Narasimha Rao has said that politics is the art of the possible; anything can happen in politics, a foe can turn friend overnight and vice-versa as long as power is shared between those designed to hold power. It seems for politicians of every hue there is only one important rule or one clear principle and that is to capture power and maintain it . In the post war Sri Lankan context, within the contemporary discourse on peace building the politicians still act with a lust for acquisition of power. Although the peace lovers have a dream of seeing a peaceful Sri Lanka the ultimate change in the structure is to be born within the framework of this power politics. In such a context, it is important to understand the real political challenges Sri Lanka faces in the post war peace building efforts.
1. Southern perspectives: The present Government of Sri Lanka has been successfully maintaining its popularity amongst the southern people of the country. This immense popularity of the Government in the South should not be underestimated. It has achieved all the massive electoral victories, largely as a consequence of giving the necessary political leadership to defeat the LTTE through military means and has completely eradicated a menace that brought unimaginable suffering to the people. These people, according to the Government have given a mandate to the President to fight all means that encourages secession in the country. On the other hand, they still see the TNA as a former proxy of the LTTE and hold the fear that devolution up to a greater degree would lead to secession. According to them if the Northern Provincial Council is established and the TNA wins the elections the TNA together with Tamil Nadu, India and the Western bloc would get together and push for a separate state in the North. People’s perception on the TNA as LTTE supporters and a party that stands for separation has not yet faded away. On the other hand, the southern perspective sees TNA as only been concerned about issues affecting the Tamil people and not much else that happens in the rest of the country .
While a greater majority of the people in the South hold such negative perspectives on the TNA, there seems to be efforts of re-iterating this perspective moreover by the political parties lobbying for anti-devolution to date. The recent series of lectures by Minister Wimal Weerawamsa can be identified as one such attempt. According to him the international community is in need of strengthening Tamil chauvinism politically even after it was militarily defeated by the Government of Sri Lanka. Moreover he explains that a power sharing structure beyond the present one that is given through the 1978 Republic Constitution of Sri Lanka is in the centre of discourse in consequence of a whole international conspiracy. A structure beyond the existing one according to his explanation will definitely pave the way for the establishment of another independent state within Sri Lanka, similar to South Sudan scenario . ‘Secession through devolution’ is the submission and the fiction emphasised and carved into the minds of the southern people.
The government of Sri Lanka while been elected with the majority of southern Sinhala support cannot abandon their perspectives vehemently and continue in power devolution to bring about a solution to the political problem. The real political challenge for the present government in such a context is to balance their perspectives and offer an acceptable solution to the numerically minority communities in the country. However, it needs to re-emphasise that a good majority in the southern Sri Lanka is against both the concept of devolution and the TNA, given the baggage both carry over a period of time through-out the discourse on ethno-political conflict in Sri Lanka. Hence, the need of a real reconciliation exercise with the involvement of the South that encouraged a military ending to the war has become an essential segment of the entire peace building process. At the failure of such an attempt the government will not be successful in providing an acceptable political solution to the numerically minority ethnic groups in the country, or it will be defeated grandly by the people of the South who made them proud owners of the massive victories over the past. Hence it needs to carefully manage the public opinion and introduce their novel policy options as well. Equilibrium of the two will indeed be a successful initiative on balance of power politics as well as building peace.
2. International pressure: Political will among the parties is a pre-requisite for success of any negotiation process. Moreover such willingness also needs to be flexible. Present government in power seems to be the best to maintain the strategic relations with both India and China in a successful manner throughout Sri Lanka’s history. In fact, many resources reveal that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Government has taken an adamant stance that President Rajapaksa should strive for a political solution to the national question . Its message according to such sources, to Jaffna has been to persist with dialogue with Colombo to resolve the problem in the country while the Minister of External Affairs, Prof G L Peiris has been refusing such statements . Although the Indian central government may not impose such pressure direct, the Tamil Nadu factor is playing a vital role in bringing such pressure through the Government of India. For example the state assembly adopted a resolution on June 8, 2011 asking Delhi to impose economic sanctions against Sri Lanka. Moving the resolution, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said only economic sanctions would ‘rein in’ Sri Lanka. She further stated that ‘did not heed the global opinion when it came to the Tamil issue’. And Tamils had been struggling against being treated as ‘second class citizens in their own country’ even after Sri Lanka got independence from the British. She further has requested the Prime Minister Singh that if India and other countries imposed sanctions, ‘Sri Lanka has to listen to what we say ’.
In addition to this scenario, ‘West’ also seems to be placing an immense pressure on the country for reconciliation and to bring a political solution. The argument is mostly articulated by the TNA and was highlighted during the break of bilateral discussions with the government in early August this year. The rationale for such pressure comes with the willingness or unwillingness of the Government seeking a political solution to this question. Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse’s statement ‘the political solution talk is simply irrelevant… The existing constitution is more than enough for us to live together …Now the LTTE is gone, I don’t think there is any requirement (for a political solution)’ highlights the unwillingness of the Government stakeholders for an effective solution ’.
On the other hand, the majority of the Sinhalese understand that this pressure from the ‘West’ is being an end result of the mass propaganda of the LTTE supporting Tamil diaspora communities scattered around the world. Hence, they view the pressure as a means of underestimating the military victory obtained by the Government of Sri Lanka after sacrificing lives of thousands of young people from the South and as an attempt to take the President who commanded the war together with the war heroes to its success, to a similar war tribunal as that for Yugoslavia . Hence, the international pressure by the ‘West’ is articulated as an unethical influence by them on a sovereign independent state on its affairs.
The Sri Lanka’s present pro-China foreign policy has further made the pressure on the country much worse. It has started aligning herself with the anti-human rights states; i.e. Iran, Russia and China. These together with the above context on the solution for the numerically ethnic minority communities have ideally made the situation much worse. This international pressure hence could be detrimental for the Sri Lankan economy as well. The challenge for the government is to balance the power between the international community and within the state, whilst restoring peace via an acceptable democratic political solution to its people.
3. Intra Ethnic/Coalition Politics: One would see that the worst thing LTTE could ever do to the Tamil community was the extreme division of its political parties that represent the aspirations of the Tamil people. Politically the Tamil parties are scattered due to various issues such as caste. The Indian segment of the Tamil community created its own political party and trade unions and never allied with either of the major Tamil parties . Tamil parties went through these political divisions in the presence of power politics through-out history which clearly signifies that power politics overrides ethnicity at times as well. In the post-war context a greater majority of Tamil political parties seems to have established a coalition among them with the objective of discussing problems faced by the Tamil people at a common level for arriving at unanimous ideas and a position among the Tamil parties, and restoring measures for achieving just political aspirations of the North and East Tamils and those of the Tamil and Tamil speaking people in the upcountry. In fact, the attempt does not seem to be a success in the process of seeking a political solution thus far. The demands of the Tamil polity seem to be different to each other for the betterment of their people. The best example with this regard is on the unit of devolution in the North and the East, while EPDP and TMVP as Tamil parties are in favour of two separate provinces for the North and the East, the TNA seems to be demanding for a merged North and East province. These fractions within the ethnic group stands as a disadvantage within power politics to a greater extend.

 

In addition to the intra ethnic politics within the Tamils the UPFA Government of Sri Lanka also seems to be undergoing serious power political challenges. While JHU, MEP and NFF are vehemently refusing any power sharing model beyond the existing 13th amendment, the UNP (D), leftist parties and some members together with the ethnic minority party members within the coalition are in support of power sharing as a lasting solution for peace. Even in such a context, the parties in the coalition itself are lobbying for various models based on different documents with their contribution. Although the present Government has not officially accepted the APRC proposals and that contrasts with the rationale to introduce the 18th amendment to the constitution, the Chairman of the Committee Prof. Tissa Vitharana suggests and lobbies for them to be considered as the based document for discussion during the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee on a political solution . Power within the ethnic communities and political coalitions in this manner poses real political challenges in the whole process of building peace in post-war Sri Lanka.

 

4. Emotional politics: A major component of ethnic conflicts is the emotional underpinning of the relations between the stakeholders. Current research suggests that negative emotions affect both the way decision-makers process information about the conflict as well as their policy choices. In addition, it is accepted that the level of emotions pave the way for sophistication of the decision makers influences both process and outcomes . This generic principle on emotional politics applies in the same manner with regard to the post-conflict situation in the contemporary Sri Lanka as well.

 

What history suggests through-out is that when politicians employ emotional politics, which are inherently deadly because such emotional politics often favours a particular group, it is very difficult for them to react upon those emotional policies or politics . This is the case in Sri Lanka as well, where politicians of both Sinhalese as well as Tamils find difficulties to find a political solution to the national question. In most cases, the emotional politics even define the national question as a ‘Tamil question’. This is a great challenge for state reformation in Sri Lanka seeking a political solution in the post-war context.

 

There is no simple fix for any ethno political conflict nor do we have examples from any countries in recent times where political solutions were found within a short time period to decades old tensions and conflicts. In fact, such harsh positions should not guide us to put off our willingness to seek political solution to ethnic conflict that once led to the formation of violent groups as well. The problem with regard to the emotional politics in Sri Lanka is that a majority of Sinhalese depressingly deny the existence of an ethnic conflict and rationalize the Tamil resistance as an act of terrorism while the Tamils adamantly demand for a solution to the ‘Tamil question’ irrespective of the positions and attitudes of the other communities in the country. These naïve and emotional positions has been a major hurdle in conflict resolution.

Sri Lankan polity needs to initiate a rationale based dialogue in order to address the grievances of the numerically minority communities. Sri Lanka’s future is at cross roads: live with the past in the present tug-a-war or be rationale and realistic to negotiate on reforms for state structure.

5. Policy Implementation gaps: There is an implicit assumption in most policy studies that once a policy has been formulated the policy will be implemented. This assumption is invalid for policies formulated in most third world countries such Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has some good national policies in ‘black and white’ although they have not yet come to the implementation stage or they may never come. The same holds true in the context of power sharing and the political question. Hence, the issue partially lies in policy implementation as well. More specifically, in terms of the national question the 13th amendment to the 1978 republican constitution was introduced in 1987, in fact to date this piece of legislature is not being fully implemented. Further the Official Languages Act that was introduced as a result of the 13th and 16th amendments to the constitution is not yet fully implemented as yet.

Policy implementation gaps are a consequence of the essential natures of power in real politics. If one believed that the central governments in power were reluctant to share or devolve power to the North and East that are dominated by the numerically minority ethnic communities, why haven’t any of those governments made any attempt to date to share powers with the rest of the provincial councils that are governed by the Sinhalese majority? The problem actually lies not in ethnicity, but in power. As with every political animal, no government in the centre has had the political maturity or the willingness to share power. On the other hand, as every other political animal that has a lust for power, they continue maintaining it. In that process, all those who propose devolution of power would only become an enemy of the power holders.

Policy implementation with regards to the 13th amendment is therefore seen as a tension generating force in society. Tensions are expected or assumed to be generated between and within the implementing process: idealized policy, implementing entity and environmental factors. There are no attempts to minimize the tensions, to ensure positive policy outcomes to match its expectations. In such a context, there is no value added to the entire system as long as a proper solution or a mechanism is established in terms of policy implementation in the country. Even if novel structures and proposals are agreed upon there will neither be no positive change nor outcomes at the failure of implementing them. Hence, power devolution structures proposed or agreed upon in the post war context should essentially b e followed by an implementation strategy as well.

 

Lessons from the CFA and the Peace Process of Sri Lanka (2001 to 2006)

Highlights from a presentation delivered by Supipi Jayawardena on ‘Sri Lanka: Ending the War in a History of Conflict’ by Kanishka Rathnapriya and Supipi Jayawardena at the Round-table Dialogue on Peace Processes in Asia Co-organized by ARF/AMAN and The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, International Institute of Peace Studies in January 2012

 

The CFA and the peace process between 2001 to 2005 in Sri Lanka, together with the outbreak of the last phase of the war brought lessons that would be lessons for such future processes within Sri Lankan and outside Sri Lanka:

 

1. Any peace process produces unforeseen and unintended consequences. Facilitators therefore need to consider potential costs of their actions, applying a consequentialist ethic and precautionary principles that are required, including a benefit-harm analysis and the careful and continuous weighing of possible scenarios and outcomes to determine strategy is recommended. Hence, it is crucial to have a skilled facilitator that all parties accept and feel comfortable through-out negotiations in order to make the process as fair and even-handed as possible. If the facilitator is not right for the role it’s supposed to play, change the facilitator or the role very quickly.

In the case of the CFA, Norway as the facilitator of the process contributed to several intermediate achievements, including the Ceasefire Agreement, the Oslo meeting in which both sides expressed a commitment to explore a federal solution, and the signing of a joint mechanism for post-tsunami aid. However, they played simultaneous roles as facilitator of the peace process and the Head of the SLMM during the process that resulted in a conflict of functions and had a negative impact in ensuring compliance with the CFA. Hence, the element of “neutrality” expected of a facilitator, resulted in the SLMM headed by Norway failing to exercise sufficient control or influence over the parties with regard to violations of the CFA. Consequently the SLMM was reduced to a role of a record keeper merely tallying the CFA violations, without being able to ensure effective compliance by the parties. This paved the way for Norwegian facilitators to lose their credibility among the Sinhala majority community within the process. Moreover, an external international facilitator interpreted by local political actors as an imposed mechanism which would not bring about a home grown solution. Having an all-party accepted internal facilitator would have brought positive outcomes from the dialogue in comparison to what happened in Sri Lanka.

2. The state building process in post-independent Sri Lanka resulted in the creation of ethnic tensions between the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils due to the failure of addressing the inequalities over a long period of time. This eventually resulted in various ethno-political groups ‘entrenching’ themselves in different perceptions on what should be the nature of the Sri Lankan State and creating diametrically opposed attitudes towards decentralization and devolution. While negotiations between Sinhalese and Tamils took place on these key issues, there should have been more inclusivity in relation to ensuring that other communities were included in the negotiation. However, key stakeholders such as Muslim representatives were kept away from the CFA process.

Therefore, the aspect of inclusion is of critical importance in any peace building process because exclusion itself will be a cause of conflict. It is in most cases in discussing contentious issues; it is difficult to satisfy all parties resulting in some parties being branded as ‘spoilers’. It is, however, necessary to be “inclusive enough” to safeguard the legitimacy of decisions. The inclusion of all ethnic groups, civil society and youth is crucial in a dialogue process to address all needs.

3. Political will and ownership is important for any dialogue to reach a conclusive and implementable agreement. Political commitment is influenced by internal and external political pressure; but it is the strongest when participating parties enjoy a sense of ownership of the dialogue process. In the case of the CFA, first, both the government and the LTTE entered into the peace process while staying committed to their own causes. That is not to say they were not genuine in exploring a political solution, but neither party made any significant shift in how they defined that political outcome; there was an incommensurable gap between what the south would countenance (a unitary state with limited devolution) and the LTTE demanded (a separate state in all but name).

4. Ownership of the people to the process should be considered as another significant factor in any peace process. The effort led by the United National Front (UNF) government during the CFA process to internationalize the peace process through security guarantees, donor funding and politically sensitive economic reforms sparked a Sinhala-nationalist backlash. This contributed to the emergence of a nationalist-oriented administration, with a commitment to a more hard line position towards the LTTE and greater skepticism towards Western involvement. The new administration constructed its own version of an international safety net, by drawing on the financial support and diplomatic cover of Asian powers. This allowed the Rajapaksa government to pursue an ultimately successful military ‘solution’ to the conflict .

 

The CFA came to an end leaving the above lessons for the future. While it is important to re-examine the failures and lessons from these processes for any future peace process in the world it is also important to pay attention on one more important aspect in terms of any ethnic conflict situation: emotional politics. A major component of ethnic conflicts is the emotional underpinning of the relations between the stakeholders. Current research suggests that negative emotions affect both the way decision-makers process information about the conflict as well as their policy choices. In addition, it is accepted that the level of emotions pave the way for decision makers to arrive at better outcomes . This generic principle on emotional politics can be applied in the same manner with regard to the Sri Lankan situation. What history suggests through-out is that when politicians employ emotional politics, which are inherently deadly because such emotional politics often favors a particular group, it is very difficult for them to react upon those emotional policies or politics .

 

This is the case in Sri Lanka as well, where politicians of both Sinhalese as well as Tamils find difficulties to find a political solution to the national question. This is a great challenge for state reformation in Sri Lanka seeks a political solution in its post-war context. There is no simple fix for any ethno political conflict nor do we have examples from any countries in recent times where political solutions were found within a short time period to decades old tensions and conflicts. In fact, such harsh positions should not put off our willingness to seek peaceful solutions to conflict. Hence in this context, the Sri Lankan polity needs to initiate a rationale based dialogue for peace in order to address the grievances of the numerically minority communities. In fact such a process should avoid the repeating history. At a time where both LLRC and Evaluation of Norwegian peace efforts in Sri Lanka is out, it is important to learn the lessons from the past and move for a future that brings positive peace for the country. To make its vision for 2016: Emerging wonder of Asia a reality. Sri Lanka’s future is hence today at cross roads: live with the past in the present tug-a-war or be rationale and realistic to negotiate on reforms for state structure through lessons learnt by our war and our conflict.

To obtain the full article contact Asian Resource Foundation, 1562/113 Soi 1/1 Mooban Pibul, Pracharaj Road, Bang sue, Bangkok 10800 Thailand Tel: 66 2 9130196 Fax: 66 2 9130197, www.arf-asia.org E-mail: arf@arf-asia.org

GSP+ Trade with EU and Human Rights in Sri Lanka

Highlights of an article written by Supipi Jayawardena to ‘‘Study on GSP+ Trade with EU and Human Rights in Sri Lanka for Sri Lanka’ for the State of Human Rights 2009/10, published by Law and Society Trust, Colombo, Sri Lanka

September 18, 2010

GSP+ trade to Sri Lankawith the EU came to an end on 15th August 2010. Some sources allege, as a result Sri Lanka will stand to lose US$ 500 million per year[1]. These will consequence a decline of revenue of garment exports which stood at US$ 3.6 billion last year to US$ 2.7 or 2.8 billion. However, the Government of Sri Lanka still believes firmly that they cannot adapt to the conditions proposed by the EU on human rights in order to regain the concession.

The following is the full list of conditions set out by the EU for the extension of the preference:

  1.  Reduction of the number of derogations to the ICCPR.

    2.  Take steps to ensure that the key objective of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, namely to provide for independent and impartial appointments to the key public positions, is fully safeguarded, including through a Constitutional Council which adequately reflects the interests of all political, ethnic and religious groups and minorities within Sri Lankan society.

    3.  Repeal of the remaining part of the 2005 Emergency Regulations, notably those Regulations concerning detention without trial, restrictions on freedom of movement, ouster of jurisdiction and immunity and repeal of 2006 Emergency Regulations (Gazette No. 1474/5/2006). If GoSL considers that it is essential to retain certain provisions which are compatible with the ICCPR or UNCAT, such as provisions concerning possession of weapons, such provisions should be transferred to the Criminal Code.

    4. Repeal of those sections of the Prevention of Terrorism Act which are incompatible with the ICCPR (in particular, sections 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16 and 26) or amendment so as to make them clearly compatible with the ICCPR.

    5. Repeal of the ouster clause in section 8 and the immunity clause in section 9 of the Public Security Ordinance or amendment or as to make it clearly compatible with the ICCPR.

    6.  Adoption of the planed amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, which provide for the right of a suspect to see a lawyer immediately following his arrest.

    7. Legislative steps necessary to allow individuals to submit complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee under the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR and to the UN Committee against Torture under Article 22.

    8.Steps to implement outstanding opinions of the UN Human Rights Committee in individual cases.

    9. Extension of an invitation to the following Special Procedures who have requested to visit Sri Lanka (UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers).

    10. Responses to a significant number of individual cases currently pending before the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances.

    11. Publication of the complete final report of the 2008 Commission of Enquiry.

    12.Publication or making available to the family members a list of the former LTTE combatants currently held in detention as well as all other persons detained under the Emergency Regulations. Decisive steps to bring to an end the detention of any persons under the Emergency Regulations either by releasing them or by bringing them to trial.

    13. Granting of access to all places of detention for monitoring purposes to an independent humanitarian organization, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    14. Adoption of the National human Rights Action Plan by Parliament and its prompt implementation.

    15. Take steps to ensure journalists can exercise their professional duties without harassment.

Over nearly two years the government of Sri Lanka and the EU has had a tit-for-tat battle with claims and counter claims and willingness to compromise by neither party has eventually brought a bitter end to the whole fiction. In fact, after analysing the sequence of events in detail in the proceeding discussion it was felt that the government should be faulted for a greater extent. In 2005 when the government applied for the GSP+ benefits they expressly agreed to implement the annexed list of 27 international conventions / covenants which included the ICCPR, CAT and CRC. UnlessSri Lankawas ready to be abiding by the rules and regulations they wouldn’t have ideally applied for it. The government has also not shown any genuine interest in preserving at least the very basic human rights guaranteed in the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

Nearly 15 months have passed since the end of the war with the LTTE. The Government still claims that most of these conditions cannot be adhered to, due to security concerns. Sri Lankais still under emergency regulations. When will the country see any light in this dark? The younger generation of this country has never experienced freedom. No committed and a genuine reconciliation process is in place to address the human rights issues raised by various parties during the last phase of the war. At least the basic remedial mechanisms on human rights violations is not in place in the country today, the judiciary and the Attorney General’s department are highly politicized, the Human Rights Commission is no longer officially functioning[2] and the police service is a mere service to the government in power and the list can go on and on. Hence, neither the laws nor the very basic structures and people are placed in favour of protecting and promoting human rights of the people nor the government has failed in its responsibility to the people with this regard as I have been explaining in the earlier stages in this paper.

As we are already aware, the government has refused the allegations in the investigation report by the EU and has been following hard-diplomacy as a tool of negotiation which has only resulted in shaming its image more and more within the international community and losing the economic benefits which can be brought to the people of this country. According to my opinion, they should have been supportive and positive of the investigations carried out by the EU rather than acting tough and refusing to cooperate.  On the other hand, in such a context when the EU team conducts its investigations overseas where several human rights groups and trade unions only made submissions there was no opportunity for the government side of the story to be articulated. What could the government expect in such a situation other than their application for the second round of concessions being rejected?

Eventually and most importantly, the Government of Sri Lanka needs to keep in mind that the cold hard fact is that we need GSP+ far more than the EU needs to give it to us. It is not our right to receive it but EU’s right to give it as once pointed out by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka in a media release. We cannot demand for the concession as the government claims on taking legal action against the EU[3]. These actions and statements would only make Sri Lanka a political clown in the international community. Anyone would frankly understand this simple logic of which the government pretends as they don’t: if you are asking someone else for their money or preferential access to their markets you cannot really demand it when it is not forthcoming. This is where soft diplomacy would have ideally played an advantageous role for the country. The EU acts as an organization with complete bona fide, extending its grant package of Rs 8.4 billion for two more years from 2011 to 2013 and being open to dialogue even at the time of loss of the concession to Sri Lanka.

The government has become popular among the people of this country than any other in the recent past mainly grace to its Sinhala Nationalist political ideology. However, they should not let the sword of Sinhala National ideology cut their own neck. It cannot continue making the international community their new ‘other’ replacing the LTTE. Their approach towards the EU and other international actors should be strategic and calculated. The present approach would please the Sinhala majority of this country, in fact we will end up being named and shamed internationally. Hence, it is important for the government to handle issues of human rights through a process of dialogue with the EU in a flexible manner in order to regain the economic benefits it brings to the country at a critical time of need.

To obtain the full article please contact Law and Society

Law & Society Trust
No. 3 , Kynsey Terrace
Colombo 8
Sri Lanka
Tel: 94 11 2684845 /94 11 2691228      
Fax: 94 11 2686843
Email: lst@eureka.lk , lstadmin@sltnet.lk



[2] Annexure 01- Letter to the Human Rights Commission from the Presidential Secretariat with regard to terminating its official functions due to the fact that the Commission not being appointed as yet

[3] Government to Sue EU, if GSP+ not granted, [INTERNET] http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20091219_05

Budget 2012: Déjà vu all over again?

Budget 2012: Déjà vu all over again?

July 27, 2011

President Bengno Aquino III of Philippines had issued a statement few days back asking ordinary citizens, social groups and civil society organizations in his country to participate in 2012 budget preparations. Justifying this appeal further his Budget secretary explained the move is to be in line with the president’s social contract with the people to stamp out corruption by making all government transactions as transparent as possible and to show the people that the trust they have kept on their government is being honestly utilized. Eventually all government agencies in Philippines have been directed to open their books to the public through the posting of all transactions such as allotments, buddings, obligations and disbursements on their respective websites. While reading this piece of news I was wondering when we will be lucky to hear such a statement from our President. In fact, it’s not that our budget process doesn’t have such a component. As always it’s only limited to paper and not in practice.

As citizenry of the country it is important to know what the due process for government budget making is and keep track about it as it will eventually map the fiscal plan for our moneys for a period of one year. It is our duty to ask the question whether the due process is followed in at least in budget preparation. This diagram explains the simplest process of government budget making.

According to this, by early June every year the Ministry of Finance & planning would commence formulating guidelines (budget call) to government agencies and by end June these agencies are to prepare and submit their budget requirements to the Ministry in line with those guidelines. Subsequently, for a period of three months the negotiations between the line ministries and the Ministry of Finance and Planning would ideally take place. As the final step of this pre-budgetary process the finalized budget will be presented to the Parliament with the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers in November. The process looks lovely and of course quite democratic too. According to the process, by now the pre-budget discussions between the line Ministries and the Ministry of Finance and planning should have commenced.
I remember seeing an article in one of Sri Lanka’s prime business portals in mid- September 2010, on the pre-budget preparation process for the Budget 2011. According to that, the process commenced only in September last year. It reported that the letters were sent by the treasury to all secretaries of the ministries, chief secretaries of the provincial councils, heads of departments and others to submit their estimates and proposals for the budget proposals 2011. It further stated that the pre-budget discussions and negotiations were to start only by October. When the process has allocated a time period of three months for these discussions, in practice it happen in less than a month. It also had a request for the general public to submit their proposals and suggestions before the 30th September 2010 to ensure that the 2011 budget would facilitate speedy development in the country. I was wondering what would be the number of people who actually know that they can forward their proposals to the government budget making process and how many of them are actually doing it.

The objective of this article is to make the people of this country aware about the process and to plead from media to be more responsive towards the process. We tend to blame the governing parties, whoever they are that the budget making process is bad. In fact it has been as bad as this over decades. Although this was the case in the past in terms of the pre-budgetary process, why don’t we make a difference today? The present government is world famous for making unrealistic dreams a reality. It made the unrealistic post-LTTE dream a living reality. In the same manner, they wish to make Sri Lanka, one of the strongest economies in Asia. Surely they can make this change too.
I happened to see a lovely quotation from President Obama displayed in the home page of the Office of Management and Budget in USA. “Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it’s time to try something new.” How about trying something new for Budget proposals 2012? It could be to support efficient and sustainable public fiscal management as a fundamental to the promotion of economic development, good governance, social progress and a rising standard of living for all Sri Lankans in this post war era.

My wish list is not that long with regard to the pre-budgetary process. I am sure that I am not demanding too much from the rulers whom I voted for. How about introducing a new segment to the process to understand the community needs and priorities as the first step? It’s a fact that the government has limited resources. Hence it needs to be directed in a manner consistent with the concerns, needs and priorities of its people as the key stakeholders of the government. Similar to the process in Philippines, the government could have public hearings, surveys, meetings of opinion makers and citizen interest groups. With an understanding of the community needs and aspirations on the budget, the government could consider and evaluate various factors affecting the community at all levels; local, regional, national and global factors including economic and financial factors, demographic trends, legal or regulatory issues, social and cultural trends, physical or environmental trends, intergovernmental issues and technological development.

Government’s budgetary goals could be established based on the elements addressing these community needs and priorities, and evaluation of community conditions, government’s operating environment, government’s macroeconomic framework and the evaluation of previous years’ performance. Based on these goals the annual budget focus could be developed proactively rather than reactively with the involvement of all levels and units of government, in line with the long term strategic objectives. Preparation of a budget circular or a ‘budget call’ that provides necessary guidelines for the line ministries is the consequence of the process with a sound understanding on the community aspirations and others factors. The line ministries could then prepare their budget proposals. Once that is submitted to the Ministry of Finance, it is there duty to liaise with the line ministries and prepare the budget proposals on the base of budgetary guidelines. Budgetary negotiations between the Ministry of Finance and the line ministries would commence at this stage. Most importantly sufficient space could be given for negotiations between the line ministries and the Treasury and the period provided in paper today would have been a better option to be adopted in reality. The overall process of budget planning from the time of need identification could be an open and a transparent process. This will ensure that the ‘official budget’ put forward through the process is the ‘real budget’ rather than hiding information from the people. The emphasis on transparency in the framework is also thought to be likely to lead governments to give more weight to the longer-term consequences of their decisions for the fiscal position, increasing the likelihood that fiscal policy settings will be more stable, sustainable and predictable. For this lengthy wish list to come true, I believe few more overall changes need to take place. Continuous capacity building exercises for the staff who are involved in budget preparation is good for an effective delivery of services. A Parliamentary Budget Office, an independent institution outside the Parliament and a solid link with the university system to obtain continuous research input would be worthy efforts too.

My final wish is for the Budget proposals 2012 to follow a much transparent and community based approach in its preparation stage and that those responsible will aggressively pursue budget objectives, not just in government expenditure but also towards raising income. Hope it will not be another where the players are different and the numbers are larger but the game and the playbook are the same. To achieve the progressive development that we all dream for as a country, this is indeed a vital area where a radical change is needed. As the citizenry of Sri Lanka, we will pray budget 2012 not to be another déjà vu, but to bring the change that the country requires to be one of the strongest economies in Asia.

Youth and Conflict

Article by Supipi Jayawardena to Sri Lanka Youth Parliament, Quarterly Newsletter in 2008

 

It is a rather doubtful fact that there had ever been a battlefield where the most active role was not played by young people in the entire history of human civilization. Fighting war seems to be the duty of young people. In fact it is not incorrect to formulate a definition of war as an internecine practice carried out by armed youth against armed youth. However, a closer look at the idea that is expressed using the word “conflict” would show us that it is not something to be despised, rejected and is unacceptable all the time. A conflict need not necessarily be violent and destructive. There can be ruthlessly violent and destructive conflicts which are in the final analysis constructive. On the other hand, there can be conflicts which are not destructive due to the way that those are carried out but not constructive in the final analysis as well.

 

Novelty or the change of existing state of affaires seems to be something that has been resisted most of the time. Human rationality which is at work to propel such a resistance of novelty should be given a serious thought but it is something additional in terms of the scope and the focus of this text is concerned. Yet, it must be noted carefully that it is this resistance that has resulted in many bloody wars fought during the history of humankind. In a retrospective perspective, conflict is the womb of novelty. Newness does not emerge as far as there is a consensus among people to accept the existing state of affairs.

 

Applying the above logic, a conclusion can be drawn that conflicts are constructive as far as they bring about novelty to the existing state of affaires of a societal formation. Now, one might tempted to pose the questions such as what novelty means, why the need for novelty is and what is constructive about novelty. Taking the aspects of textual clarity and conciseness into account, let us shed some light on these apparently dark spots in the form short answers. The best answer that can be given to the question what novelty means is it is all about radically breaking away from the present and it is the experience of unimaginable creations of human creativity. The need for novelty can only be attributed to the fact that human subject being a void.  The indefatigable strive towards a self-perceived perfection of some form or the other and taking of various symbolic roles on his or her journey towards this so called perfection are the results of human psyche which emanates out of its fundamental nature of void. The question what is constructive about novelty seems to lead us to an extremely interesting discussion; it has to be confined to a very limited amount of words though. The novelty can bring us a joy which is obviously can be termed extraordinary as it is something that you have never thought of experiencing. The other interesting fact about novelty is that it is some thing temporary, it becomes cliché and it frustrates you and it keeps the momentum of your drive for the experience of novelty.

 

At this juncture, it seems appropriate to come back once again to the main theme of this paper which asks a content that explains some kind of a connection between youth and the womb of novelty; conflict. Yet, conflicting thoughts inside my own mind suggest me that a traditional behavioral type of an analysis which constructs a pseudo- natural link between essential youth qualities such as aggression, desire to achieve justice and their engagement in conflicts is disgustingly outdated. On the contrary, let us investigate the armed conflict in Sri Lanka against the backdrop of novelty.  Despite the innumerable amount of interpretations given to the conflict, in terms of youth engagement is concerned, what can be seen is an internecine exercise of resistance and protection. Sri Lankan youth seems to have not lead by the drive for the experience of novelty. The southern Sinhalese youth is engaged in war of resistance in favour of the existing state structure where as the northern youth seems to have engaged in an exercise of taking measures for the protection of a national identity which is already there.  Can you imagine how it would be if these two groups took arms to not to resist or protect but to change, bring about novelty, who will be the enemies then?

 

…You May say I’m a dreamer (john Lennon)

Unsatisfactory Student Performance in Mathematics at the G.C. E (Ordinary Level) Examination 2006

A study on the overall unsatisfactory student performance in Mathematics at the G.C. E (Ordinary Level) Examination 2006

 

An article compiled by Supipi Jayawardena based on a presentation delivered in 2007 at the University of Colombo as an Undergraduate student to meet the academic purposes.

Qualifying in Mathematics is a compulsory requirement to succeed in G C E (Ordinary Level) Examination in Sri Lanka. In fact, Mathematics is recognized as the most challenging subject the students come across at the examination and the overall student performance in the discipline is also considered unsatisfactory at a degree of nearly 50% of failures. The situation is remarkably grave and was significant in year 2006. Statistics on G C E (Ordinary Level) Examination results in 2006 highlights 57% of the students who sat for the examination had failed in Mathematics whilst 47 schools and 40 pirivenas in Sri Lanka did not have a single student qualifying for the GCE Advanced Level Examination (Hiran,2007). Due to this higher rate of failures of nearly 50% of the overall number of students who sit for the G C E Ordinary level Examination in Sri Lanka not only that the students do not qualify to sit for the Advanced Level Examination but also would increase the number of school drop-outs at the age of 16. Although this has been widely discussed in various platforms in the Educational Sector there is no evidence of a proper study conducted to identify the real causes for this issue. Hence, this is an attempt to recognize the causes for the overall unsatisfactory student performance in Mathematics at the G C E Ordinary Level Examination in Sri Lanka.

 

Hence, identifying the causes which lead to overall unsatisfactory student performance in Mathematics at the G C E Ordinary Level Examination in Sri Lanka is important to overcome this situation in future.  The geometry question of the mathematics paper seems to taking highest attention due to the high number of students who could not fair in the question. However, the geometry question of the paper is compulsory, but 90% of students failed to answer that. A greater number of teachers passing out from the Colleges of Education teach for these students are not knowledgeable enough to teach geometry.

 

On the other hand, with the introduction of new syllabuses, structures and text books teachers were not provided with updated skills and knowledge on the novel areas. Hence, teachers were not competent for teaching these new areas. The practice in the Sri Lankan education has eternally been to provide training for teachers as an entry requirement to the profession, but not to empower them through continuous training. It is indeed essential that the government provides constant training for the teachers to introduce and expose them to the new syllabuses, structures and text books. This situation consequence nine schools in Colombo, three schools in Homagama, three in Jayawardenapura, twelve in Galle, seven in Ambalangoda, thirteen in Rathnapura educational zones and 40 pirivena not having a single student qualified for the G.C.E. Advanced Level.

 

Responsibility of failures should not lie only in the Government and the teachers. However, the parents also should take partial responsibility for this phenomenon. While parents are not raising any concerns about less qualified or unqualified teachers, incompetent teacher trainers or no teacher training, in service teacher advisers and subject directors who are politically appointed, their only solution has been to seek assistance of private tuition classes.

 

In order to address these grievances in terms of the unsatisfactory student performance in Mathematics in year 2006, if the government or the Ministry of Education is not providing sufficient support at least the schools need to actively participation in the process. Therefore, the schools should manage the newly absorbed teachers and provide all teachers with constant training to improve their quality and standard of teaching. In addition, the schools should maintain a resource centre for teachers with the assistance of the parents and past students, in order to ensure that they have accessed to updated education methods, knowledge and other resources. Rather than pointing fingers at various directions, it is time for schools, teachers and parents to take collective responsibility of the future generation of this country.

References:

Hiran, (June 14,2007) Why 2006 Sri Lankan G C E O/L results are poor?, viewed 16th November 2009, <http://studentlanka.com/2007/06/14/sri-lankan-ol-results/>

Sri Lankan News and Discussions (May 14, 2007) Over 51 per cent students fail GCE O/L, viewed 16th November 2009, <http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2007/5/14853.html>