The Open University Teachers’ Association has vehemently condemned a statement made by the Minister for Higher Education S. B Dissanayake on the attack on the Head of the Department of Legal Studies at the Open University.
The Minister has stated in parliament when questioned about the attack on Ms Yashodara Kadiragamathambi, that there are no opportunities for students and academics to interact at the Open University and that Ms Kadiragamathambi only comes to work once a month.
“We totally refute these claims that are made by the Minister and are perplexed how the Minister is able to comment on such detailed information that involve duties of individual academics that are normally of purview to only to the Senior Management of a University. It is rather unfortunate that the Minister of Higher Education is unaware of the way in which academics at the Open University function, and specifically how a Head of a Department performs his or her duties. The unfounded statement made by the Minister grossly distorts the academic’s role and relationship with students,” the Open University Teachers’ Association said.
The Association said that at a time, when Ms Kadiragamathambi is receiving medical treatment for the serious injuries she suffered as a result of the attack which took place in the course of her official duties, the Minister’s statement is not only false, but extremely insensitive and malicious.
“This incident has exposed the weaknesses of the university system in providing support to students and academics and the stresses inherent in the current education policy. Thus we call upon the authorities to identify the fundamental causes of incidents of this nature that take place within the universities and address them without resorting to making statements which seek to divert the attention from the core issues confronting the education sector in the country,” the Association said.
It also called on the Minister to immediately clarify the statement he had made and the basis on which he made it.(Colombo Gazzate)