Issue 2 - 4 March 2013 enews home

Deputy VC continues work for education in Sri Lanka

By Louise Errington

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Sharon Bell recently travelled to Sri Lanka, where she lived and studied for two years in the 1970s, to present at the Australia Future Unlimited Educational Fair in Colombo

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Sharon Bell has represented the university at the Australia Future Unlimited Educational Fair in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Professor Bell met with potential students and their parents, educational partners, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills, and Univotech, the recently established technical education university, during her trip.

Professor Bell said she was passionate about tertiary education opportunities for young people in Sri Lanka, whose prospects remain limited.

“I’d like to see significantly expanded education opportunities provided for future generations,” Professor Bell said. “Sri Lankans, with their strong history of educational attainment, deserve a strong and inclusive tertiary education system.”

In 1976 Professor Bell, as a post-graduate anthropology student, lived for two years in the rural village of Kanewala, in the Western Province, where she studied the lives of rural women.

Accompanied by her filmmaker partner Geoff Burton, Professor Bell made a documentary that focused on the women of the village, and also made films with the Catholic fishermen of the towns of Duwa and low caste drummers and dancers in the village of Pelpitigoda.

Professor Bell has returned to Sri Lanka many times during the past 36 years, most notably in 2001 to review the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, which led to the creation of the independent University of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Her enduring commitment to Sri Lanka has been passed down to her son, Aaron Burton, who through his own post-graduate studies has returned to the villages where his parents lived to meet the descendants of their film subjects.

Aaron has recently completed a documentary entitled “My Mother’s Village”, which explores how Sri Lanka has changed since his parents' first sojourn there.