Sri Lankan Higher Education System and it’s Failure to produce intellectuals

As the Sri Lankan government permitted the private sector to embark into hospitals, transportation (private buses), primary and secondary schools (private and international schools) it should open the door for the private sector to set up universities as well. This is the trend followed by other countries. Only 0.001% of the population of Sri Lanka enters universities each year (means only 20,000 students) whereas in other regional countries it is nearly 5% of the population. 5% of the Indian population means an exceeding number of 60 million Indian students enters university (thrice as large as the entire population of Sri Lanka) and it will be around 8 million in Pakistan and 7.5 Million students in Bangladesh.

There’s only one Private University in Sri Lanka (SAITM) and a Semi Government University (SLIIT), and 8 government funding state universities which are ‘In Dire Straits’. SLIIT produces an exceeding number of 55% Software Engineers in the country’s Software-Technical arena and it’s Sri Lanka’s onliest ‘Research university’. However unlike other state universities it does not depend on government funding and therefore has a great deal of autonomy. In India private higher education institutes and colleges are over 10 times as many as government universities (337:3616), in Pakistan it is almost twice (547:957) and in Bangladesh, it is 21:199 is nearly 10 times. Interestingly, in these countries the per capita of Gross National Product is well below that of Sri Lanka as Indian GDP per captia rate is $1400, around five times as low as Sri Lankan GDP per captia rate which is $6,135, while it is $1290 in Pakistan and $747 in Bangladesh yet they manage to promote the private sector in university education.

Sri Lanka needs more universities and the annual intake of students to the universities be increased. Considering the number of people per universities in other countries, Sri Lanka needs to establish a minimum of new 40 universities. This is not an easy task for the government, with other priorities in health, transport, and infrastructure development sector, etc. to invest in 40 more new universities and increase the current intake. The Jilamrt Rajapaksa government has to think innovatively to cope with this massive demand for university education rather than investing in Casinos, Formula 1 race tracks, IMAX theatres, Prostitution and high end shoping Malls. Because unlike our neighbour states around 95% of the educated Sri Lankans seek opurtunity for higher education, the highest literate population in South Asia, and one of the highest litterate population in Asian on a par with European standards.

In 2011 the government played with the future of Students following the Z-Score fiasco (I am one of the victim), where over 6500 Advanced Level students have had their hopes shattered due to the sheer incompetence of the executive. A few measures taken to provide relief for students affected by the crisis, Certain students who had scored very high results were deprieved of university admission as a result, many student died of depression and some attempted suicides.

The cynical attitude the Rajapakse regime has towards education and the educated is further highlighted by the fact that the government spending for universities was slashed to 0.27% in 2010. Because of the low salaries, some of the best lecturers are compelled to seek greener pastures while the others who continue to serve in their motherland are labelled as thugs or terrorists by this government.


Author: Mohammed Jehan Khan

A Soldier of Fortune who born without a silver spoon in his arse. Google my name to know me more.

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