Comrade Pubudu Jayagoda addressed serious defects and issues arose in the 2009 advanced level examination during the press briefing held on 20th August.Furthermore he addressed on the horendous bill to be tabled on the next week to facilitate the privatization of the education.
The present government has drafted a bill titled ‘Higher Education (quality assurance and accreditation)’ as the newest attempt after the previous vein attempts.The preamble of the act says this is an act to ’provide for the establishment of a commission known as the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Commission for Higher Education in accordance with the National policy on coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education..’ When cursory glance have on the said title one could easily be misled that this act is for assure the quality of the Higher education. But preamble itself said that will be done according to the national policy on education. The national policy is nothing but to facilitate privatization of the education to establish neo-liberal agendas in the public education sector.
On the other hand the so-called commission consist of Secretary to the Ministry appointed by the minister, Additional Secretary to the ministry appointed by the minister who is assigned subject of finance, Chairman or his nominee of University Grants Commission, Chairman or nominee of National Education Commission, nine other members appointed by the President from a panel of fifteen persons nominated by the Minister.
The above members of the commission are vested with the vast and broad powers on higher education. Few main powers declared in the act are formulate, implement and update Sri Lanka qualification framework, to deal with foreign institutions on quality assurance and accreditation, determine policies, standards and criteria on quality assurance and accreditation, grant full or provisional registration to higher education institutions, evaluate foreign degrees, assess foreign degree qualifications, make recommendations for quality improvement, enter into agreements, contracts with third parties, recognize local or foreign bodies etc.
It is crystal clear this commission is going to be established to take the regulatory powers of the private local and foreign education institutions and the degrees to the commission. However all 15 members of the commission are political appointments. The national policy of the government and the minister is to expedite the privatization process. Having taken in to consideration the aforesaid line of explanation the ulterior motive of this proposed bill is clear that this commission is the state body of facilitating the privatization of education.
Currently quality assurance and accreditation of higher education degrees and institutions is being done by the respective professional bodies. For example Sri Lanka Medical Council is vested with powers to supervise and assure quality of medical degrees and institutions. Furthermore the standards and criteria of quality assurance is decided by medical council which is body consists of highly qualified and recognized medical practitioners. Sectors like Engineering, Architect, Nursing are also regulating by the professional of the respective field. Could you expect the quality assurance of the professions without the participation of the professionals and academics?.
Although this act gives an impression that the prime objective is to uplift the quality of the education the ulterior motive is clear that the control and supervisory powers of the higher education is going to be handed over to the politicians. During the SAITM struggle we had experienced that as to how the ministers and the political authorities uses state power to give recognition to a institute which the Medical Council and foreign medical bodies have black listed. However due the firm stand of Medical Council the government was unable to place their policy on medical professions. Once this new bill is passed all the professional bodies will not be able to supervise and regulate the higher education.