Back on August 22nd, the Sri Lankan government evidently shut down 21 state-run universities. This was in response to a strike that began way back on July 4th, when college professors demanded a 20% wage increase to attempt to stanch the flood of professors leaving the country, they claim causing a significant brain drain in the country. They’ve also demanded that government spending on education be raised from the current 1.9% to 6%. To be honest, that strikes me as kind of high. I’m a product of American education and European friends were shocked when I told them the ticket price for my undergraduate degree and what I was going to be asked to pay had I gone for my Masters I’d been accepted to in the States, so maybe this is a bad number, but according to the World Bank, the United States’ public spending on education (which includes more than just what the government contributes) hovers around 5.5%. The UK, as well. But, hey, shoot for the moon, right?
I don’t mean to give the impression that the Sri Lankan government is getting the short end of any stick. They’ve suppressed students and professors, and last year instituted a three-week long “Leadership and Positive Attitude Development” program run by the military. The three-week long program, run along with the Defense Ministry is “conducted by defense training experts, sociologists, psychologists, leadership and strategic training experts in 28 military camps.” Big brother much? What’s more, the Minister of Higher Education S.B. Dissanayake is accusing professors of trying to start their own “Arab Spring” to bring down the Sri Lankan government. Paranoia strikes deep, friends.