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Colombo VC ignores FUTA bigwig's sit-in

2014 May 23

Dearth of history lecturers:

More academics offer to join protest

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Head of the History Department of the Colombo University Arts Faculty Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri staged a day-long sit-in opposite the office of Vice Chancellor Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama yesterday in protest against a shortage of lecturers at his department. He even threatened a hunger strike, but subsequently he agreed to suspend his protest following an assurance given by the Arts Faculty Dean and department heads around 5.30 pm to help solve the problem.

Former head of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) Dr. Dewasiri began his sit-in at the Vice Chancellor’s office around 9.35am as his presence was ignored by the VC. They have been at loggerheads for a long time.

When contacted for comment, Dr. Dewasiri said that his department had only five permanent lecturers and two of them were on leave at present. "I have to teach alone for fourth year undergraduates,"  Dr. Dewasiri said, stressing that there was pressing need for recruiting two temporary lecturers as a stopgap measure but the university administration had ignored his request.

Former FUTA chief said that he had suspended his protest on the assurance of the Arts Faculty Dean Prof. Athula Ranasinghe and other department heads and he expected a solution latest by next Wednesday. "This was my own decision, but I had to respect the request of my colleagues who pledged solidarity with me and offered to join me in the struggle," Dr. Dewasiri said.

He said that the Vice Chancellor had not given him an audience though he had waited the whole day at the College House where the VC’s office is located. He said he would leave no stone unturned in his efforts to have two teachers recruited. He would even resort to a hunger strike for that purpose, he warned.

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