As the three-month-old agitation by teachers, which has crippled universities in Sri Lanka, including Jaffna, shows no sign of ending in an amicable manner; prominent academics from India have joined a large group of intellectuals from different parts of the globe, to express solidarity with the protesting teachers.

They said that they were “deeply concerned” with the crisis in Sri Lanka’s higher education sector.

In a joint statement, 22 scholars noted that only 1.86 per cent of the GDP was being spent on education in the island nation.

They pointed that the drastic decline in state investment was related to mounting issues in the education sector.

“Such a predicament has led to the university teachers’ protests, agitations by teachers’ unions and demonstrations by students. These interventions have brought our attention to the crisis of education in Sri Lanka. We stand in solidarity with the teachers, academics and students in Sri Lanka, who have taken it upon themselves to shed some light on this crisis,” said the statement, signed by noted economists such as Venkatesh Athreya, C. P. Chandrasekhar, Jayati Ghosh, Prabhat Patnaik, Utsa Patnaik, and C. Rammanohar Reddy.

“The post-war period holds much promise for the people in Sri Lanka, and in that hope, we appeal to the Government of Sri Lanka, university and teachers’ unions, students’ movements, parents’ organisations, and foreign aid donors to engage the crisis in education, and arrive at a solution that can rebuild the foundation for a democratic and prosperous society. The international community is watching Sri Lanka to see if past achievements in education will once again be revitalised,” it said.

“Our appeal to address the crisis in education has as much to do with education, as it has to do with building the foundation of democracy. Prioritising and democratising education is imperative to the process of rebuilding a just and prosperous society. As people who have invested in accessible, fair and just education for all persons, globally, we strongly urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take immediate note of the education crisis, negotiate with teachers and university teachers’ unions in good faith, and put in place a vibrant process to address this serious concern,” it added.

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