By Aisha Nazim
The Main Opposition UNP will extend their support to the university academics’ struggle and be part of the cross-country procession organized by the lecturers next Monday (24).
Addressing a media briefing yesterday, UNP MP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam also urged the public to participate in the campaign and fight to protect State education.
He said the academics’ demands are very reasonable and that the government should resolve the issues instead of suppressing and threatening those who were fighting to protect the education sector.
“The tyres in the vehicle of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) President were slashed, and the vehicle was coated in blood one day. His wife was threatened. Student leaders are being arrested. Meanwhile, the sons of ministers can do anything they want and get away with it too. People who press charges against them recant their allegations, while men who were tied to trees by politicians issue statements saying that they tied themselves to the tree – all because they are afraid of what will happen to them. Such is the state of law in our country,” he said.
Though the government says it cannot afford to grant salary increments or allocate higher funds for education as there is not enough money, Kariyawasam charged that the government wasted millions of rupees for Provincial Council election campaigns.
Even though the Elections Commissioner had set a certain amount of funds that could be spent on campaigns, the expenses were doubled as the government candidates used State funds to cover their expenses, he alleged.
While the government was flagrantly spending on unnecessary projects, some 1,400 schools in the country are short of basic facilities including water, and 10,000 patients are on the waiting list for heart surgery at the National Hospitals, he said. “The health and education sectors are severely underfunded, yet millions of rupees are spent on carpeting roads all around the country though there are much important things to be done,” Kariyawasam charged.