‘Universities should take active responsibility for acts of ragging and gender-based violence amongst students and staff’, said the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, The Honorable Ranil Wickremesinghe, in opening a joint conference between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the ACU in Colombo today.
The high-level consultative dialogue, attended by all 15 Sri Lankan state university vice-chancellors, marked the start of a week of events aimed at increasing the capacity of universities to improve student safety and access. This initiative is in keeping with the new government’s commitment to preventing/eliminating sexual and gender-based violence and instituting good governance – especially in universities.
Delegates included all national university vice-chancellors and registrars, as well as ministers and secretaries of ministries who are directly responsible for higher education, the Minister for Mass Media and the Director-General of Police. The event will be followed by a workshop for the deans and student counsellors of all universities on 22 April 2016.
This initiative arose from the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the UGC and the ACU in November 2015, where both sides agreed to cooperate on promoting gender equality and equity in Sri Lankan higher education institutions.
With the support of the ACU’s Gender Programme, the UGC will also hold two workshops titled ‘Gender equity/equality in Sri Lankan universities – Training of Trainers’ from 25-30 April. The two workshops, conducted back-to-back and with 30 participants each, will target senior university academics, directors of staff training centres, and senior student counsellors from all 15Sri Lankan state universities.