Sri Lanka to probe ragging suicides as thousands drop out of university

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka as appointed a committee to probe over 2,000 victims of ragging, a type of extreme physical, mental and sexual harassment meted out to freshers by seniors, some of whom committed and others were maimed for life.

“This should be viewed as a national crime as a considerable number has committed suicides, been maimed or hospitalized,” Higher Education Minister Bandula Gunewardene said.

“We should be ashamed as a nation for what has happened to these students”

The ragging deaths are one of the crises in the tax-payer funded state education system.

The seniors harass the students physically, mentally and sometimes sexually until their ‘spirits are broken’ and they follow their orders, reports have said.

Those who have got ragged then, rag the next batch in a vicious circle in pathological vicious circle.

However there are also minority groups of ‘anti-ragging’ unions in the universities who try to help freshers.

Out of 180,000 who qualify for university, only 30,000 get places at tax-payer funded universities (called ‘free’ education), and another 20,000 seek places in universities.

Sri Lanka’s crisis in higher education is a direct result of government regulation, analysts say.

The lack of university places within the country is due to government regulations which blocked private degree awarding institutes, partly due to pressure from leftist political parties and student unions.

In developed nations like the US which wins most of the Nobel prizes universities came up without interference from the state and are not regulated by the government either.

Students select universities based on how successful they are in the market place and there self-accreditation schemes that grade the institutes.

The students who enter university and drop out sometimes go abroad but others are helpless.

Under Sri Lanka’s government regulations, once they refused the university seat, they cannot enter the university system again.

Minister Gunewardene had proposed that a committee headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Salleem Marsoof be appointed to probe the crisis.

Other members include former Sri Jayewardenepura University Vice-Chancellors Narada Warnasuriya, Dean of the Pali and Buddhist Studies Magammana Pragnananda thero, Father Bennet Fernando, ex-VC of Uva University Chandra Abuldeniya and Presidents Counsel Prassanna Lal Alwis.

Vice president of the University Grants Commission Janitha Liyanage will be secretary. (Colombo/Jan19/2020)