Batticaloa, Colombo, Human Rights, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Trincomalee

Discrimination in Law college entrance?

9 students who sat for Law College entrance examination in academic year 2006/2007-appeal case at Srilankan appeal court today with demanding of to reduce cut off marks from 173 to 160. One of the complainer (H.M.Rifan) spoke to me. “We are fighting for all Tamil medium Students. Every year only one or two Tamil medium people are chosen to the college. We feel there is discrimination for Tamil medium people. Regarding this issues last year a complaint appealed in the Supreme Court under the fundamental rights. While the time we are going today.

While the cut off mark is the same for students from all communities, these students feel that the mark is being used to avoid letting in Tamil medium students. He said there was probably corruption and Tamil students were being given marks below the cut off point.

“If they decrease the cut off marks there are possible to 9 Tamil medium students to get seats in Law College”

However the Tamil politicians have responsibilities to find solution for this discrimination.

  • Thats bloody bullshit. If the cut off is the same for all the students, then its the inability to perform by the tamil medium students that causes the under-representation. I believe this is going to get some pretty furious reactions, given that they are accusing ‘lawyerth’ 😀

  • David Blacker

    Umpire hora, eh? So they want lower cut-off marks for Tamil medium students? What grounds are there for such positive discrimination?

  • Crep

    What they are saying is that there is discrimination against them and corruption that is leading to very few students being allowed in.

  • The article is intentionally and maliciously misleading. Most Tamil students who sit this exam prefer to do so in English medium, hence the low number of Tamil “medium” entrants.

    More importantly, Tamil language papers are prepared and marked by Tamil professors and everything is overseen by academics of all ethnicities.

    Finally, setting aside quotas for students of a particular ethnicity would violate the Sri Lankan constitution not to mention the internationally accepted norms and standards and would be seen as discrimination by non-Tamil students. The cut off mark should be the same for everyone regardless of their language and ethnicity.

  • Ellaalan Sankilisolan

    There seems to be some misunderstandings about the issue, understandable since we don’t know the full details of the issue. But positive discrimination is legitimate if there are legitimate grounds for it. For example certain schools in colombo don’t have teachers for the tamil medium classes as a result they either get students who just sat for the A/L to teach the younger students or students go without a teacher for a certain period until they find teachers. When looking at cases such as that then having lower marks for tamil medium students or any other medium facing such circumstances is appropriate. As for the constitution of Sri Lanka, which has been violated by Sri Lankan governments quite a bit, it has given buddhism a special place which amounts to discrimination of other religions. Because by giving a special place to one faith the other faiths are lowered. Even if buddhism is the religion of the big majority of people of Sri Lanka when talking of equality this contradicts. As for international norms, it has been accepted that positive discrimination can be a vehicle to uplift minority groups that have been discriminated and not given equal opportunities. Examples can be found in the USA’s affirmative action policies, Malaysia’s positive discrimination policies, etc.

  • Tamils are not a disadvantaged minority. They are a privileged group in Sri Lanka. There are no grounds for positive discrimination or affirmative action. This only goes on to show that the whole Tamil issue is not about equal rights but about getting special rights and privileges, just like it started with the 50:50 demand back then with equal representation for 25% Tamil led minorities and 75% Sinhalese in the parliament instead of a one man-one vote system.

    I personally know very well that the proportion of Tamils in the law college is even higher than their proportion in the general population. Most of them study in English medium. Lack of Tamil language entrants doesn’t mean a thing. Many Sinhalese students study in English as well and the number of Sinhalese language entrants is remarkably low.

    Tamils say that the “standardisation” which assigned quotas for every ethnic group in the 60s or 70s was discrimination. At that time, there were many great Tamil schools in Jaffna and elsewhere (which are now refugee camps). If this ethnic quota system was wrong then, it should be wrong now, even if the situation has reversed. Admissions should only be based on the academic aptitude of an individual applicant, not his or her ethnicity, language or place of origin. Positive discrimination all over the world is extremely controversial and causes bigger problems than what it attempts to solve, as seen by our past experiences.

    Nevertheless, the Sri Lankan government does have regional quotas for each district and surprise, the Tamil majority districts are the most under-performing ones and hence Tamil students have lower cut off marks for entrance into most university faculties. For example, a Tamil student from Kilinochchi can get into a university law faculty with a Z-score of 0.8xxx, while a Sinhalese student from Galle would need about 1.6xxx. The Law College does not have regional quotas because most students actually study in private insitutes in Colombo for the law college entrance exam, hence have access to equal facilities.

    So even if positive discrimination is abhorrent, and ethnic quotas are illegal, Sri Lanka still practices affirmative policies for “disadvantaged” regions that end up benefiting the Tamils more than the Sinhalese.

    This however does not apply to the law college entrance, and there are no grounds for these protestors’ complaints. The only reason they didn’t get in was because of their own under-performance.

  • chaaya

    Well; I was at Law college myself- a sinhalese and i think the admissions process has been far from fair and transparent. My friends who had prominent lawyers as fathers were actually axed whereas others were squeezed in etc. The question is whether the Tamils are under represented in the law education and practice areas and this is not the case. I am of the opinion that Tamils as any other minority have been discriminated and continue to do so on th basis of language as the official languages policy which names sinhala and tamil as such was not implemented effectively to date. Unfortunately however, the brunt of this discrimination has been borne by the poor tamils especially in the estate sector. I personally know that when it comes to University entrance in Colombo, there have been special provisions made for Tamil students in the North where Jaffna Unis are not functioning to be accomodated in the Colombo campus. This is something positive. The cut off mark therefore is not the best possible indicator of discrimination as it is purportedly set depending on the highest possible number which can be accomodated in Law College that year and it is hard to establish malicious or discriminatory intent.

  • Mareeka

    Though many people sit for the entrance exam very few are chosen, there are many that are qualified sometimes even more than those who are selected. After all you cannot judge ones capabilities merely by a 2hour paper. Therefore why can't the college authority have interviews apart from the entrance exam to chose the very best.