Category Archives: What’s On

A Masters worth its Salt: Master of Development Practice, Peradeniya Uni

GAYA FERNANDO

Some people get into development work without a clue as to what it’s all about. They joined up to a corps of people who wanna make the world a better place. That’s fine.

Then there are professionals who slog away at commercial jobs and half-way take a break, unwind in the mountains or beaches of Sri Lanka and wonder if this is all there is to life. Then they apply with their corporate skills and experience for jobs in the non-profit sector. That’s great!

Some people are very career-minded and would like to start out with a degree in an area that will give them experience in working with communities and are interested in the concept of sustainable development.  That’s wonderful !

Oh yes, and what about the experienced employees in NGOs who think they are too ‘senior’ to come into a University classroom and take on a challenge sitting beside the young hopefuls twenty-something but are crazy about getting a Masters in the area of work they love?

Well, all of you are absolutely welcome !

Master of Development Practice (MDP) at Peradeniya

“Sri Lanka and its neighbours face compelling challenges as they move toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the context of pursuing a sustainable development agenda. These include threats from climate change, vulnerability to natural disasters, rapid urbanization, demographic change, persistent and substantial levels of poverty and malnutrition especially in lagging regions and among vulnerable groups. Addressing these complex issues requires professionals with many areas of core knowledge, practical skills and an interdisciplinary approach” MDP, Peradeniya University website

Why it is innovative and unique

There are some features of this MDP that make it an incredibly practical and workable challenge to those committed to development. They are not listed in order of importance.

FIRST, the MDP is open to those who may not have a University degree but instead may be able to meet the equivalent in terms of experience. We could give you a few courses you may need but the gates are not barred; they are open.

SECOND,  the MDP is conducted entirely on weekends so those who are working full-time as most of us do, can travel up to Peradeniya on the weekends when lectures are held.

THIRD, it’s just great that the MDP is inter-disciplinary, drawing on humanities, social sciences, management, law, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, to name a few. And this inter-disciplinary thinking gets you good marks with UN and NGOs, non-profit sector as the work at hand demands this perspective rather than expertise in one discipline.

FOURTH, the MDP can place the students in ‘placements’ for their field work in unique locations and working with top-notch Development Orgs the range and scope of which cannot be rivalled by any other Masters in this field.

FIFTH, the faculty, the liaisons and connections with Columbia University and the global network makes this Masters a valuable experience and one that will give you the insight and professional knowledge to further your career and to expand your perspectives on Sustainable Development.

Applications for the following academic year 2016/17 are NOW OPEN  Dec-Feb. Please see the student resources page on the MDP website for details and for your easy reference here is the Applications Page.

Student Testimonials :

“when I found out about the new approach focusing more on field training and the inter-disciplinary course content itself, covering geography, biology, statistics and economics (which should be essentially included if the development practitioner is to design and implement projects that would benefit different aspects of life of the beneficiaries) it made more sense and yes, I thought this is it!”  Natasha Yatawara. Read her story from Gambia in this interview.

The Master of Development Practice is a programme in 17 countries.  The Peradeniya University is one of the five Asian universities to be included in the global MDP network. It’s a Masters programme worth its salt. iSrilankan is proud to promote its benefits to the Sri Lankan local and international student community.

Like the MDP Facebook Page  right away and you can keep up with the news and updates easily.

The images of Peradeniya University above and the collage below are credited to Kalpa Rajapaksha

A Tale of Two Women and the birth of Paartheepan

GAYA FERNANDO

Rizana Nafeek left the country forging her age on a passport and found herself in hot water with the laws of the foreign host nation. She was denied her life in the discretion given to the tribal family negotiation process in Saudi Arabia and was sentenced to a terrible death. Ranjini left the country as a refugee post-war and found herself in a legal ‘black hole’ in Australia regarding ‘significant and continuing security threats to Australia. She failed the security test of which no details are released and was thrown into indefinite detention with no reasons given and no appeal according to the processes of national security in Australia. She may not lose her life immediately though there is a significant and continuing risk that she will lose her mind as others have done and are receiving psychiatric treatment as the length of indefinite detention takes its toll on the human mind.

Both the girl Rizani and the young woman Ranjini did not make this journey alone nor are they very cognisant of the procedures to which they were submitted. They left the country assisted by a network of agents who profit from assisting those who wish to leave the country to do that for a hefty fee.

ipad-art-wide-refugee-420x0

Admittedly one young woman accidentally may have caused the death of a child and the other may have been employed by a terrorist organisation during a war in the country she left. What matters now is how Host State processes mete out justice on their terms to people who are in the grey area of the law and to whom a discretion may apply given the individual circumstances of both women.  Yet what is seen is that the only criteria applied is how these actions affect the host nation. Both Rizana and Ranjini are just migrants/refugee applicants who do not belong there.

On January 9th we lost Rizana and on January 15th was born a son, Paartheepan, to Ranjini, who is still in indefinite detention. This is what may change the tide in the case of the second young woman.

Paartheepan means light to the world. Paartheepan’s father is a Permanent Resident of Australia, Ganesh and so, ‘Paari’ is an Australian citizen and will be able to leave the detention centre without his mother. However, for the present, strategically as well as naturally it will be best to leave the little baby with his mother for his well-being and hers as well as to attract more outrage and attention to her plight which is hardly in line with 2012 human rights norms relating to limits in detention, the right to appeal and the right to know the charges against you. Paari has two brothers at the Villawood detention centre who go to school but come back to the centre and are not free to leave.

I have followed to some extent the campaigns for Rizana and Ranjini from the social media callouts and other newspaper reports. It has been alleged that the delegations to plead on behalf of Rizana may have worked against her interest with their premature indications of a settlement, possibly hardening the resolve of the tribal family negotiators to withhold the pardon in this case. I have no informed opinion on this. However, if this were the case, there is a lesson to be learnt; many may be. It is therefore with a certain anxiety that I view the vociferous, emotional twittering of campaigners who call on even Barack Obama to press for the release of Ranjini. Paartheepan, bless him has his own hashtag #paari, another called #bornfree and the campaign grows in animosity towards ASIO, Chris Bowen and others involved as State Officials in this case.

RA51712While it is very commendable and humanly moving to see the campaign for Ranjini, it is not uncommon for State Authorities to tighten their resolve to continue their process despite the clamour of activists and to be seen as not giving into pressure from rights groups. This is evident in many such situations in Europe, USA, UK and well, pretty much anywhere including Sri Lanka.

Therefore it is hoped that little Paari and his mum will not be hindered by this social clamour and that the authorities determining their case will be given that prudent window in which to reach a dignified verdict on their own. Sometimes activism is its own enemy and the campaigners get carried away by tweet overload. Congratulating their efforts, it is hoped that political realism will allow this life-changing decision to be carried out by the powers that be as soon as possible.

This is the announcement on the website Letters for Ranjini on his birthday Jan 15th.

We are blessed with a boy, Paartheepan (Paari).

4.075kg on 15-01-2013 Tuesday at 8:23PM.

Mum and baby are fine.

Regards, Ranjini and family.

One little note of relief is that little Paari weighed over 4kgs at birth and he is in good health. Pardons and amnesties are in place for a reason as is the review of judicial process over other state institutions. Let us hope that Paari will hasten the processes that will determine if Ranjani is or is not a continuing security threat and will signal a new life for the family in Australia if all goes well.

Paartheepan, Ayubowan !!