Morquendi is taking a break for three days and Electra (http://electra.blogsome.com/) is bowing out after trashing Chanuka roundly for being rich and speaking. I have yet to see any particular evidence or research from the other side, but Morq does have some questions:
The first question is the funniest, though I think it’s more of a threat.
Indi I warn you (in a nice way). Do not get personal with me. Let’s keep this where it is… I’m tired of wasting my time online trying to explain things to elitist assholes.
For someone so dependent on character assassination, you have a pretty thin skin. If you can dish it out you can take it, and I’m a pretty gentle fellow. I’ve never called people that argue against me assholes, wait I think I did call you an asshole in a comment once. I think the confusion stems from the fact that Urban Dictionary has two definitions of asshole:
Sean is the biggest fucking asshole I’ve ever met in my life!
Source: Jenna Tools, Nov 30, 2002
2. asshole: Anyone who doesn’t do exactly what you think they ought to do, exactly when you think they ought to do it.
That asshole took my parking space.
Source: Unrepentantfenianbastard, Apr 1, 2004
Now, I intepret asshole by definition #1. On those accounts Morquendi is arrogant: “At least our roots are planted firmly in the realities of Sri Lanka even though our heads may be Colombo 7. I am of both worlds.” and rude, specifically in responding to all opposition as ‘elitist assholes’.
Morquendi seems to interpret asshole by definition #2 – anyone that doesn’t agree with him. Remember folks, Morquendi went to school with poor people. He even hid his free lunch and paid for it at the canteen like them. Don’t disagree with Morquendi, or you’re disagreeing with the poor. To quote his credentials:
I went to school with kids who were only in school because of the free education system… forgive me if I see their side of the story. My mother would pack sandwiches for me like all good Colombo mothers do. But I’d never take it to school because I didn’t want my friends to think of me like that. I’d throw it out on the way and we’d steal from the canteen together during the break.
Now what say the people, via their emissary Morquendi?
I would like answers to these Indi. I have asked them from you on many occasions but you have dodged them artfully. If you want this debate to continue it would be helpful if you could answer these questions. And I don’t want statistics about other countries and slanted studies and surveys. People are people Indi, not numbers or consumers.
And here I was counting my pubic hairs. I cite statistics not cause I like math, but because stats count people. That little number is often the only voice those people have in the media. It certainly was for most of the 30,000+ Tsunami dead. That little number is their only communication to the world, and I try my best to listen. I don’t mind writing off stats if the poor could speak directly, but all I’m offered is the voice of Morquendi. Well, he did go to school with poor people, it’s pretty much the same thing.
Morquendi speculates that on Sri Lankan tuition classes saying: “No I do not think the cost of private tution classes needs to be factored into the problem as Indi suggested… Tuition classes are not a key factor in deciding university entrance.”. Now, de Silva (1990, 1994) interviewed 1,873 people and 94% of Science students and 97% of Arts students said: “In tuition classes I learn how to answer examination questions”. I don’t know if they’re right or not, but that’s what people seem to think. Not numbers or consumers, people said that. These 1,873 people, however, are irrelevant if we have the one voice of Morquendi (who went to school with poor people). That’s just one of the many assertions he’s made unsupported, I only wish I had time to go through all of them
Morquendi has deemed all research on this topic “slanted” which leave us with… opinion. People with who don’t agree with Morquendi are “elitist assholes” which leaves us with… Morquendi’s opinion. Unfortunately, I am not Morquendi, which makes answering these questions rather hard. After all, he went to school with poor people. How can studies on thousands of Sri Lankans and many more international examples compare? Those researchers spoke with and collected data on real-live poor people, but did they ever endure the hardship of throwing away their free lunch? Alas, I’ll have to make do with the information available to me. I await the wrath of Morquendi, He Who Went To School With Poor People.
What will happen to the State run universities if private universities are opened up? Will spending on them be increased?
Nothing will happen to them. Private Universities are not connected to the Public Universities. If the government would like to direct more funding to the Public Universities that is their business. Private decisions don’t affect the public system. We’re adding a new wing to make room for more students, not demolishing the house.
What will be the criteria for granting ‘loans’ for students? Will everyone have access to them? Even a student who has nothing to show as collateral?
Depends on the body giving the loan. The best-case is that in place at the Indian NIIT:
The Citibank study loan covers up to 90 per cent of the course fee. The student can then repay the loan over the next sixty months. Significantly, the loan does not require any collateral – so it is open to students from any socio-economic background, provided that they can pass the entrance test.
The worst case is something like the Phillipines where:
There have been relatively few students availing of the loan scheme due to what is considered a high interest rate, the short repayment period, and the fact that low income families do not have access to credit system (Table 7). Other research, however, acknowledges the willingness of low-income students (and their families) to pay for private higher education (The Case For Choice Equity and Efficiency)
The Indian government loans are also pretty crappy at serving the poor. If like to argue using for examples involving people those links might be useful for your case. Of course, if you went to school with poor people or get offended on their behalf, please don’t break a sweat.
The Sri Lankan case would likely fall somewhere in between. Sri Lanka’s largest Micro-Credit lender SEEDS has experience giving loans to the poorest of the poor and they’re actually profitable. They have made no committment towards funding education (beyond training programs), but it would great if they got involved. Their Annual Report has examples involving people, including landless people without collateral.
I should make clear that Private Universities are not an ideal solution. It is a compromised, tenative step in the right direction. I am making no argument for an ideal, I’m just arguing that this would be better than the Status Quo – where 175,000 people are completely shut out of higher education. In terms of loans, it will take years for the capital situation to adapt. In short, it’s going to be crappy and inequitable for a while. Will everyone have access to them? That’s the goal that we have to work hard towards. Pretty much everyone has access to SEEDS micro-credit, so it is possible in Sri Lanka. The free lunchers would have the poor eat free cake (of which we’ve run out). Private Universities would give them bread, by the sweat of their brow.
What can you do to ensure that the teaching talent is equally distributed among the private and state universities? And that all the good teachers do not shift to the private universities?
It’s a market system. In developing countries Universities tend to cater more to the elite Doctor/Lawyer/Engineer track, while Private Universities “are found at the lower end of the prestige hierarchy in Asia” (International Higher Education).
For one thing, Mahangu’s Western Civilization prof isn’t going to be lured by a Vocational College. As I tried to address in the FAQs, “Private Universities tend to go for the mass market and end up closer to Technical Colleges than Universities (cause that’s where the money is).” The courses need to produce graduates who can get jobs and pay back their loans, which means a lot of IT, Business, and Tourism type courses. Or to summarize, they’re peeing in seperate pools.
Would you also like to comment on the state of private and public healthcare in Sri Lanka and what the involvement of private players in the healthcare sector has done?
I would like to comment, but saying anything sensible would require an assload of research. I’d also prefer to keep the scope of this debate as narrow as possible. If anyone can link any studies or aggregate information on a large number of people I’ll read them, but I personally think it’s best to keep any debate focused.
What kind of regulations do you think need to be put in place by the Government to control the activities of the private universities?
This is my opinion, so do your own research, but general areas which governments like Malaysia, Brazil, etc seem to focus on are
# *Quality Assurance*: At the basic level there is a certification board. Usually you have to go back every 5-10 years. This would ideally be transparent, maybe even sourced to a third-party.
# *Regional Equity*: Governments often offer tax and other benefits to set up campuses in rural areas.
# *Scholarships*: Governments often offer tax, other benefits for putting students on scholarship. In Bangladesh I think they are required to have 5% of students on scholarship.
# *Rankings*: Malaysia is trying this as a more transparent alternative to a all-powerful board. They’re working on criteria for ranking Universities (public and private) for public knowledge.
Will private universities grant hostel facilities to out of Colombo students? Which is a major incentive? Or will they not provide hostels because they can get enough students from Colombo?
Again, it’s a market system. If providing board is profitable (naturally or through regulated incentives) Private Unis will provide board. There is a role for regulation here, but we’ll see. This kind of thing is good to let the market figure out, cause it’s not clear if there would be demand or if people would stay at home. The Public University Ruhuna was built without dorms specifically to avoid students organizing, which is what we should avoid. If students demand there should be supply
Will private universities be opened up in rural areas? At least anywhere other than Colombo, Kandy and Galle?
Again, market and regulation. On one hand setting up out of the cities is cheaper in terms of rent and expenses. On the other hand, the government can encourage/force this through tax and other incentives. This is another definite place for regulation.
How can a students who has taken a big loan to pay for his education also pay for living in Colombo?
In most countries (US and Canada for sure) students loans cover tuition AND room and board. Scholarships often cover the same.
Will students who do not have a good command of English be taken into private universities and then coached in english? As the State Universities now do? Or do you have to already have a good command of English to get in?
Yes, Private Universities will probably teach it English because its demanded in the job market. They don’t have to cause I or anybody says so, but it makes market sense to prepare your students. If they limited their entrance to English speakers they wouldn’t get many applicants and they wouldn’t make much money. Keep in mind that they’re not going for rich students who would rather go abroad, they’re going for the mass-market.
Will private universities teach Pali and Sankrit literature? Will the teach Sinhala and Tamil literature? Will they teach Buddhist and Hindu Theology?
Again, market. I don’t think that’s for anyone to decide for them. If students demand those courses and are willing to pay for them they’d probably be offered. In other Asian examples students have demanded IT, Business, and Tourism courses with quick job possibilities, but that expands over time. That type of content decision is probably best left to the students and parents and their power to demand more and better.