COLOMBO, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Over a hundred protesters marched in Sri Lanka's capital on Tuesday, demanding that the government increase the number of public universities to admit an additional 140,000 students each year, an activist said here.
The protesters, shouting slogans and waving signboards, marched to the Higher Education Ministry demanding that the government expand the public university network in Sri Lanka to allow more students to enter.
Voice for Youth Convenor Gayan Janaka told media that each year more than 144,000 students pass the government mandated university entrance examination but only 22,000 students are admitted to the universities.
"Every year thousands of students that have excellent results cannot enter a university because there is no space. This is unacceptable. We call on the government to open new universities and expand the tertiary education system in Sri Lanka," he said.
The Sri Lankan government is attempting to push through new legislation to allow private universities to enter the sector but so far have faced stiff opposition from leftist political parties and affiliated student unions that charge such a move would reduce the recognition of public universities.
Last year, university teachers staged a crippling three-month strike demanding that 6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) be allocated for the education sector. However, the demand was never met and the strike petered out under public pressure.
Janaka repeated this demand and called for greater attention from the government to solve the plight of students.
The organization handed over a petition calling for the increase of public universities to a representative of the Higher Education Ministry.