The right to education constitutes a basic human right, as declared under Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN-UDHR).
Interestingly clause 3 of the UN-UDHR’s article 26 states that that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”.
Sri Lanka a signatory of the UN charter, obtained membership of the UN on 14th December 1955 and is bound to uphold and safeguard the values entrenched therein as a member state.
However a decision by Sri Lanka’s Medical Council (SLMC) on the 26th of June this year, casts doubt as to whether Sri Lanka’s government is genuinely committed towards safeguarding the values of the UN-UDHR.
The SLMC on the 26th of June decided to delist three prominent Russian State universities, in violation of a long held tradition, under which full scholarships to Sri Lankan students was afforded since 1960.
The Russian Centre in Colombo today (11) issuing a press release said that the SLMC’s arbitrary decision to delist Russian Universities from its accredited list came against a backdrop of regular payments being made to the SLMC by Russian universities in order to maintain membership.
Meanwhile the SLMC’s gesture, amounting to a slap on bilateral diplomatic ties between Russia & Sri Lanka ironically comes on the heels of an SLMC decision to accredit the I.M. Sechenov Medical University in Moscow which does not offer any full time medical scholarships to Sri Lanka.
The SLMC however justifying its decision states that the removal of the Universities was followed by a thorough review conducted once in every five years.
The criteria for the review process has not been made available by the SLMC even under the Right to Information Act and remains a mystery to this day.
A letter in this regard had even been forwarded to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by a group of students who charge that the SLMC’s decision has left them in difficult straits.
Moreover, the Association of Sri Lankan Graduates from Socialist Country’s in a letter to the President of the SLMC states that the discontinuation of previously accredited Russian Universities
Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) established diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka on 03rd December 1956, and since then has been an ardent backer of the island nation.
Russia has supported Sri Lanka in nearly every UN resolution brought forward against Sri Lanka.
The most notable one was during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009 when European nations along with Canada and Mexico brought a ceasefire bill against the Sri Lanka Army.
Russia & China vetoed the bill.
Later on, another war crime bill that was tabled by Western nations against the Government of Sri Lanka was once again vetoed by Russia and China, along with several other nations.
Russia’s scholarship program to Sri Lanka comes at no bartering cost, but is solely a good will gesture which has been extended in diplomatic bonhomie.
Locally celebrated medical professionals such as Dr. Anil Jasinghe who is the incumbent Director-General of Health Services in Sri Lanka, as well as Dr. Hector Weerasinghe, the Director of Colombo’s National Hospital are Russian qualified practitioners, who have left an indelible mark as individuals in Sri Lanka’s health sector.
The silence in this regard observed by Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the country’s Health Minister undoubtedly leaves a blemish on a long standing relationship between Russia & Sri Lanka which weathered the test of time.