Though by the late eighties I was doing a lot of educational work, the cultural programmes continued apace. One area in which we contributed in an innovative and creative way was in conducting a series of drama workshops that led to productions of texts produced by the workshop participants.
The catalyst for this was a young Englishman called Scott Richards, who was introduced to me by a friend who taught in one of the international schools, and had enjoyed some of the performances the Council put on. Scott worked over a few days with a group of youngsters who wrote and put on a hilarious set of skits called ‘What the papers don’t say’. I remember in particular a take-off of how the youngsters assumed the Private Medical College, a great bone of contention then amongst students, had been set up. Nishan Muthukrishna, the most culturally aware apart from Ravi John of the Josephians Richard had trained almost a decade earlier, was brilliant as an academic determined to get his child a prestigious degree in medicine.
That indeed was the problem with the Private Medical College, that would otherwise have been seen as a welcome innovation by those of us who believed in a system of private education complementary to the free education provided by the state. It had managed to ensure that the degree its students would obtain would be from Colombo University. I know that, when I pointed out this anomaly, Carlo Fonseka said that he had been in favour of this, since it would ensure that the course would be of a suitable level. But I suspect Carlo’s essential good nature was taken advantage of by those more single-minded than himself. It would surely have been easy to devise a scheme of quality assessment, essential if private education were to be encouraged. But Carlo was still in the old statist mindset, the Private Medical College was to be a one off exception, so it had to be brought in essence under state control, with state certification, rather than simply state assessment of the quality of the final product.