Aug 24 (ABC) The peak body representing tertiary level teachers in Sri Lanka has expressed serious concerns about the government's decision to shut most of the country's universities indefinitely.
The move was taken in response to a months-long strike by academics who accuse the government of interfering in university life and underfunding the sector.
The Federation of University Teachers' Association (FUTA) is due to hold talks with the secretary of the Ministry of Finance Dr P.B. Jayasundara today, as part of attempts to resolve the situation.
On Wednesday representatives met with the Minister of Labor Gamini Lokuge and a group of government officials regarding their demands, but reported little progress.
"We have been talking with government for the past five years on the same issues and we see that there is total indifference and apathy on the part of the Ministry of Higher Education and the current regime on issues connected with higher education,"
Dr Mahim Mendis, FUTA's spokesman, told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program.
"We strongly believe in talking . . . but talking and talking and talking will not help," he said.
"We cannot accept anything other than a very precise and clear agreement because this is not just a matter for the academic community, this is a struggle for the people."
FUTA wants the government to increase salaries and commit to spending the UNESCO benchmark of 6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the sector.
It is currently spending just 1.8 per cent of GDP.