The Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) has criticized the termination of the services of Anuruddha Pradeep, Probationary Lecturer from the Department of Political Science at the Sri Jayawardenapura University.
FUTA says politicization, loss of academic freedom and autonomy are grave threats faced by the university community currently and the latest victim of this malaise is Anuruddha Pradeep.
According to FUTA, Anuruddha Pradeep has been an outspoken critique of current government policy on education. His forthright and often piercing criticism on how universities are managed, how funding for education has been systematically reduced and the loss of academic freedom has irked many, including the Minister of Higher Education.
The normal procedure to get confirmed in the job for young university academics is to obtain certain qualifications (postgraduate degrees like M.Phil., M. A. or Ph.D) within a stipulated amount of time (8 years since joining the University in the position of a probationary lecturer). If the probationary period comes to an end while the thesis had been submitted but the result have not been released, it is customary to place the individual concerned within the ‘temporary’ position until such time that the results are released and once the results are released the appointment is backdated to the date of submission of the master thesis. There are many in the system currently, including those at the top most rung of university administration who have benefited from this practice.
Though Pradeep had already submitted his thesis to the relevant institution, which highlights the fact that he has almost completed his requirements for permanency, FUTA says they have reliably learned that the university authorities, through the politicized University Council (majority of the members of the University Council are appointed by the Minister of Higher Education) have taken an irrational decision to terminate his services.
“In fact, we have learned that the council was wrongly informed, purposely or mistakenly of the actual date of submission of the thesis. While the actual date of submission of the thesis was 1st of March 2013, which was before due date, the date which had been informed to the council was 20th March 2013. This clearly shows that the termination of Mr Anuruddhap Pradeep was malicious or was based on wrong information. We believe Mr Anuruddha Pradeep was terminated for his outspoken critique of government policy,” FUTA said.
“We call upon the administration and management of universities to resist political pressure and to work in the best interests of the institution. We urge the management to apply rules fairly and consistently to all and to desist from punishing young academics who challenge the status quo”. (Colombo Gazette)