apathy, committee, Committee on Public Enterprises, Education Act, Higher Education, Higher Education Act, ignorance, National Human Rights Action Plan, parliamentarian, Tertiary and Vocational Education Act
but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done
Reading through the articles I have thus far written in this series, I realize that I might have given the impression that I am overwhelmed by work. To some extent this is true, and I am working harder than I have done for years. I suppose the high point of my labours, when I would sometimes be in one office before dawn and leave the other after dusk, was when I headed the Peace Secretariat and was also Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights. But after that I had a fallow period, while I was a Member of Parliament.
I was not made a Minister as had I think been originally intended, which I did not worry about too much at the time, thinking that it would be good to get used to being a Parliamentarian and doing what I could in that role. I did not realize then how ridiculous is the role of a Parliamentarian in Sri Lanka, where committees meet rarely and then only to discuss parochial matters, not policy or wider issues. Initially though we did this last in the Education Committee, since we were asked to comment on the draft of a new Act, and that was quite interesting. Attendance indeed was good in those early days, but soon it became clear that the Minister had no interest in the matter, and gradually numbers dropped.
After several meetings, with endless repetition of the same ideas when he decided he had to invite all stakeholders and possible stakeholders to comment, the Minister allowed the matter to lapse. Mohanlal Grero made valiant efforts to revive it when he was appointed first Monitoring Member and then Junior Minister, but he is a mild man and had little impact. So six years later we are as far away from a new Act.
My own ethos is entirely different, which is why, during my brief period as State Minister of Higher Education, I worked swiftly on another casualty of the lethargy of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ministers and officials, the Higher Education Act. The Committee we appointed made rapid progress and, when I resigned, I told the President that I would complete this task. We submitted a new draft to him and the Ministry within a month, but no one was interested. Continue reading