ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Military Expansion into Education

Militarisation, or securitisation, in Sri Lanka is not necessarily restricted to the formal military structure; its orientation is far more pervasive, as can be evidenced in the recent developments in the education sphere. Already existing imbalances and practices in the education sector have been exacerbated by the military ideology imposed upon it by the Sri Lankan government.

Little has been done to contain the bloated military structure in Sri Lanka even though over three years have passed since the government formally declared victory in the 30 years of civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist group which fought for a Tamil homeland in the North and East of the island. In fact, militarisation is a frequent charge made against the government today. The repressive structures that make institutions vulnerable to militarisation, however, emerged far earlier than this government and have been a conduit for militarised processes to operate. Within higher education, the state’s administrative processes, and student and staff hierarchies and actions reinforce these repressive structures. This article explores the nature of militarisation and forms of repression in the educational sector of Sri Lanka in recent years, with a special focus on higher education.

Generally, the country has experienced a growth in the military apparatus through the progression of three decades of war and over successive governments. In the 1980s, at the war’s inception, the military consisted of 30,000 personnel. Now, despite the no-war situation, this figure has ballooned into hundreds of thousands.1 While the military’s involvement in active combat is now minimal, their presence has expanded to various other activities such as the maintenance of tourist destinations, mega construction projects, agricultural projects, vegetable stalls and city beautification. The military of the post-war era is a very different entity to its war-time, combat-intensive counterpart. Today, with escalating trends born years earlier in the North and East of the country during times of war, the military is becoming increasingly embedded into society. It seems to have penetrated many facets of civilian life, in all regions of the country, and become an integral part of civil life.

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