Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe announced last week that a decision has been taken not to grant permission to the Sharia University, also known as the Batticaloa Campus. PM also announced that Madrasas in the country will be brought under the purview of the Ministry of Education. He was speaking after a discussion held at Temple Trees, the PM’s residence, regarding the report prepared by Parliamentarian, Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, who chairs the Subcommittee on Education of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Education and Human Resource Development. He had briefed the Prime Minister on the report of the Subcommittee’s recent investigation into the Sharia University being constructed at Punani in Batticaloa.

The Prime Minister said that he decided to approve these proposals following a discussion held between Muslim Ministers and Parliamentarians regarding the controversial Sharia University and Madrasa schools. “We will not grant approval for a Sharia University. There is no legal basis to run such a Sharia University. What we only can grant approval for degree offering institutions. There is no legal provision to operate a Sharia University,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said. Mr. Wickremesinghe added, “We can only approve degree awarding institutions. It should be declared by law that it could not continue as a Sharia University. To do this, Section 9 (a) of the Universities Act should be amended.”

The Prime Minister referred to a Bangladeshi law which mandates that students should not be admitted to colleges on the basis of their religion or caste. He said that such a provision will be included in the country’s law through amendments.

About Madrasas, the PM said that it has been decided to bring such institutions under the Education Ministry and added that some of the educational activities will be planned in consultation with the Muslim Affairs Ministry.

According to Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, the Batticaloa Campus should be a Private University operating under the supervision of the Government. Initially, permission was sought under the name ‘Sri Lanka Iraq Foundation’ which was later changed to the Batticaloa Campus Private Limited.  The final report of the subcommittee will be tabled in Sri Lankan Parliament in the first week of June. Prof. Marasinghe said that the subcommittee is considering a proposal to convert the Batticaloa campus into a Technological University.

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