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Educational and Corporate Restructuring

EDUCATION: I agree with the article by Lionel Wijesiri in the ‘Moving Finger’ titled ‘When youth are not taken seriously’ (DN, June 12).


School curriculam needs to be revised

Ever since independence, our education system has been forming a nation of which its elite followed that which was reminiscent of the former colonial era ‘one which was for the highly privileged elitist colonial classes’. Our nation’s elite forgot, or did not realise that Sri Lanka could not survive on mere intellectualism and the high-mindedness of the likes of the by-gone era.

The prime purpose and focus of education should be towards the enhancement of the nation and community, rather than for individual exaltation. It should produce humility and a greater awareness towards nation building and a commitment to all.

As Wijesiri put it, ‘This suggests cooperative learning where the efficient helps the less efficient to the benefit of both rather than either tracking (where the quick advance at the expense of the slow) or large, understaffed de-tracked classes (where the slow advance at the expense of the quick). The goal is not to level down but to secure “an aristocracy of everyone” in which excellence is the common denominator.’

Wejesiri also says, ‘If we are to rejoin education with liberal citizenship we have to take “liberal” education seriously. Liberal arts education and civic education share a curriculum of critical reflection and autonomous thought.’

Most of the leading schools in Colombo have operated on a different scale from the rest of the schools in the nation. Unfortunately they have produced a class of those of priggish behaviour. All this will be fine if we were a richer nation where then all these little nonsenses could go towards meaningless job-creation for the less gifted and less fortunate.

But as a nation with an ethnic war on our hands, and more recently with the ravages of the tsunami, we do not need the asinine of the elite classes to create divisions in the facets of our society.

While we need our intellectuals and entrepreneurs, and those that can bring foreign exchange into the country, and by no means should they be discouraged, there has to be a system where they can be utilised for the benefit of all. Our government should revise the curriculum in our schools to suit what is more meaningful for the country.

Students for example, for extra credit points, could be sent to learning camps of the farmer, the fisherman, the slum-dweller, the estate-worker, the tsunami victim who still lives in tents, work in public day-care, handle work of maids, gardeners, labourers and so on. We need to teach our people the value of common labour; the value of acceptance of all race, class and caste in our country; the value being true Lankans.

There should be mandatory laws in place for local and foreign companies and corporations, big and small, to spend some of their profits in an alternative form of taxation, e.g., on environmental enhancement schemes.

Companies could sponsor projects to build fountains, decorate roundabouts, clean restrooms, clean landfills, handle garbage collection and disposal, provide computers to schools, and so on.

Signs could be displayed showing the company or people involved with the project. This is one way for these companies to see where exactly some of their tax rupees go and to find out whether there should be more privatisation of government schemes.

Mandatory laws should also be in place for enhancing company interactions within each concern, however small, where the ownership and top management do not intimidate the lower worker. And rather than management having a top-down approach, worker feedback is encouraged from the lowest levels.

Worker appreciation could be shown by providing moral boosting activities such as company parties and family picnics, where all interact from top management to the worker at the lowest level, worker training, annual pay-bonuses and award giving - all following a common and uniform policy.

Job-creating enterprises for the lowest of jobs need to be encouraged and acknowledged.

We have a nation of chauvinists who are unwilling to see beyond the niche of their own social set? whether it is in Sri Lanka, or those outside Sri Lanka. Though few, these chauvinists tilt the monetary scales of the nation, creating severe imbalances which have created severe tensions in both class and ethnic situations. We are a democracy gone wrong, a democracy without a soul.

We cannot follow the democracies and educational systems of countries like Singapore, which does not have a peasant population, or most of South East Asia, which have petroleum reserves, nor follow the United States or Australia, which have enormous monitory reserves due to their newness as nations and their foresight into accepting immigrants, toiled hard and/or brought over to these new lands as essential assets from their old countries.

We need to follow our own system based on our own historical past, specific to our nation. We are a nation of which the main source of income could be in our citizens. An immediate re-establishment in our education curriculum and corporate restructuring is needed to provide more meaningful and valuable insights to our people, which should soon help us spread our wings of success as a nation.

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
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