On July 16, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) in Sri Lanka will hold an online public meeting, to discuss a program to fight the privatisation of education.
The government of President Gotabhaya Rajapakse has presented the Kotelawala National Defence University (KDU) bill to parliament this week and is aiming to rush it through using the ruling party’s majority.
This bill broadens the powers of the current Kotelawala National Defence University Act. The Defence Ministry will be empowered to set up faculties, which will conduct fee levying for various academic courses that enrol significant numbers of students.
This military-controlled institution will function in parallel to the already existing public university system, which functions under the education ministry. This is a major blow to free public education, and a further step towards the privatization of education in Sri Lanka.
The bill was first presented during the previous Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government in 2018. However, it was temporarily shelved, amid massive opposition from students, teachers and the working class as a whole.
Once again, the Rajapakse government has decided to implement the bill as part of its pro-big business program, which slashes the social rights of the working class and poor, under conditions of an economic crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pseudo-left Frontline Socialist Party, and the Inter-university Student Federation it controls, are pleading with government MPs to defeat the bill in parliament. They oppose students turning to the working class and building a movement to defeat the militarisation and privatisation of education.
The IYSSE meeting will discuss the vital issues involved in fighting to defend free education on the basis of a socialist perspective. We urge students, university teachers and non-academic employees, as well as other workers, to attend this meeting and participate in the discussion.
The meeting will be chaired by Kapila Fernando, IYSSE convener and the main report will be delivered by Prageeth Aravinda.
Date: Friday, 16 July 2021
Time: 7 p.m.
Please register for the meeting here.