Pull out of online teaching demanding withdrawal of KNDU Bill
BY Pamodi WaravitaAll university academic staff will participate in a collective strike action today (28) by refraining from engaging in online teaching activities so as to demand that the Government withdraw the controversial General Sir John Kotelawala National Defence University (KNDU) Bill, the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) said yesterday (27). The FUTA said that today signifies the start of the national action against the militarisation and privatisation of education that will be brought about if the KNDU Bill passes into law in the Parliament. The Student and Mass Movement for Free Education signed a collective statement on 24 July, demanding that both the amendment by the gazette notification issued last week to the Universities Act, No. 16 of 1978 as amended and the KNDU Bill be withdrawn immediately. A gazette notification issued by the Government on 21 July, stated that Section 23 of the Universities Act, No. 16 of 1978 as amended, will be amended to allow the Education Minister, in consultation with the University Grants Commission (UGC), to “establish a University for a specific purpose.” The KNDU Bill has received widespread criticism from various quarters for its alleged threats to free education and the militarisation of education. A range of demonstrations have taken place throughout Colombo over the last two weeks in protest of the Bill which was tabled in Parliament on 7 July, where over 31 arrests were made. The Morning reported on 21 July that a workshop on the controversial KNDU Bill is to be held for all governing Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Parliamentarians on 2 August and that it will be taken up for approval in Parliament during the first week of August.