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'An assault on public education' - Sri Lanka's teachers protest KNDU bill

(Images provided by the Inter-University Students' Federation)

Academics across Sri Lanka withdrew from their teaching and administrative responsibilities on Wednesday to protest the government bill intended to “militarize” education.

The Federation of University Teachers Association is campaigning against the General Sir John Kotelawala National Defence University (or KDU) Bill. Its main claim demands “that the government keep military and civilian education separate.”

“The Bill is not just about the university, it is essentially a model of private education, subsidised by the government and run by the military. It is an assault on the country’s public education system,” said Professor Rambukwella. 


The Bill is said to pursue change to the governance structure of the University and pave way for greater military involvement in education policy and administration. 

The Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU), the Inter-University Students Federation (IUSF), and others opposing the bill are concerned about a parallel structure of higher education ran by the military that suppresses free speech. 

Earlier this month, Sri Lankan Minister of Public Security, Sarath Weerasekara, called for mandatory military training for those 18 and older. Stating “The discipline in our country is very bad today.” 

The military camp “is the best place to train them because it has discipline and facilities.”

Tamils and Muslims have increasingly come under threat by Sri Lanka's security forces with a spike in recent arrests under the country's draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act and a wide-reaching prohibition of community organisations.

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