Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's Time - PART IV: Life after E-fac


Continuing from
PART III - CLV Jayatilake's Threat

PART IV - Life after E-fac

It took the faculty staff more than eight full months to release our final examination results. The wait was horrible. By that time, fellow students from Moratuwa University who had their examinations one month later than us, had had even their graduation ceremony as well – and had secured all the plum jobs in the industry.

Armed with my new gained confidence of good results, I approached the faculty for temporary employment, but that request was flatly rejected by Galapathy who was the acting head of department while Sanath Ranatunga was on his sabbatical overseas. No need of temporary staff was the answer.

About 160 out of 250 E Eighty One’rs, ie, about two third, graduated with the BScEng degree in their first attempt. That included only less than one quarter of the nine students in the production engineering discipline. These two graduated, had secured a first class and a second class upper division passes and it seemed that they are perfectly poised to fill the existing vacancies in the department cadre. In late 1985, the production engineering department was being run with just one lecturer and two assistant lecturers. The head of department was an appointee from Civil engineering with obviously no teaching load.

It was not to be! The guy with the first class left the faculty for a private sector appointment that paid nearly twice the university wages. My formal application, lodged in response to the newspaper advertisement, was not endorsed by the head of department – apparently due to my bad records. So was the fate of my batch mate Lohitha Devasurendra who had a first class honours in mechanical engineering. In his case, he was at least given an interview.

However that was not the end of my quest to initiate some action addressing the high failure rate among Peradeniya engineering students. In 1991, the faculty, with MP Ranaweera as the Dean, initiated the alumni association, PEFAA. I enrolled as a founding member and at the first general meeting I was elected as a member of the inaugural committee of the PEFAA.

It had been six years since we graduated, but I knew that some of the problems students were facing were still there. There was a backlog of students being processed by the faculty mill in batches and double batches. I spoke briefly to this point at the general meeting and took it up again at the first ever PEFAA committee meeting. I was planning to get it listed an agenda item and then hoping that some action, at least a detailed study on the situation, will result.

Alas! I was silenced by the president of PEFAA (whose name I have now forgotten). He said in no uncertain terms that PEFAA will never talk about academic matters of the faculty. From the deafening silence it was clear that no other committee member had any interest on the matter at all.

That was it! Nearly eight years after my solemn resolution to take action about what I perceived as a grave situation that prevailed in the faculty, I accepted defeat and accepted it gracefully. At least I have had a go, I thought.

Next read the FINAL EPISODE (PART V) Some horrible crimes

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