Inspiration from the past
Naturally when we are reminded of our National Heritage, the visuals
that run through our mind are the ancient tanks and Thupa. However many
of us are unaware that these physical resources are just examples of our
national heritage. Many of us tend to neglect the most important aspect;
the marvellous technology and creativity that went into their making.
Generations after generation we were taught to look at these creations
in a Western perspective, not taught to be inspired by them.
National Heritage Minister Dr Jagath Balasuriya
To be proud of our National Heritage we should be able to understand
the very knowledge that our ancestors applied to erect them. Only by
doing so can we look through these constructions and can whole heartedly
appreciate and love our national heritage. Anthropologist Pandula
Endagama observed that this knowledge should be passed on to the younger
generation for them to be able to produce magnificent models as our
He appreciated the government’s recent initiative to add National
Heritage to the school curriculum while recommending to merge it with
every subject rather than making it a solitary subject which might
become an extra burden on the students.
“National Heritage is seen in every subject. For example in the Math
class we can teach our students how our ancestor had applied the
Pythagoras theory here in our country though they were oblivious of
this.” However our ancestors had been aware of this knowledge. In the
same way there is a vast knowledge related to National Heritage in every
However he doubts the capability of the present day teachers to
couple this knowledge with their respective subject. He suggested that
school teachers first be trained for this task. “They must be able to
make National Heritage a part of children’s life,” he remarked.
Endagama brought out examples of art, nutritious food patterns,
sewing and stitching practices that minimize wastage, indigenous
medicinal practices and environment friendly approaches of our ancestors
as valuable knowledge to pass on to the younger generation.
Anthropologist Pandula Endagama
He stressed that bestowing this type of knowledge should be the main
focus of this initiative to add National Heritage to the school
Meanwhile, National Heritage Minister Dr Jagath Balasuriya said that
the suggestion to add National Heritage to school curriculum will be an
important move to form a patriotic generation which will be immensely
useful in the pursuit of the country’s development. He observed that
patriotic feelings oft the motherland can be generated by making
children aware of their National Heritage.
This suggestion is still at the initial stage. It will be carried
forward after conducting a comparative research with other countries.
“We are aware that this is a complicated issue and must be handled
carefully. National Heritage does not only mean the Sinhala Buddhist
heritage. It also includes all other religions and ethnicities.
He pointed out that the country had been under colonial rule for a
considerable period of time. The influences of Dutch, Portuguese and
British have become a part of Sri Lanka. “We should make our children
aware about these influences too,” said the Minister. Agreeing with
Endagama’s opinion, the Minister reiterated that National Heritage does
not necessarily have to be a separate subject but can be a division
under Social Studies and History.
He noted that a committee will be appointed shortly to proceed in
this task. Intellectuals and general public will be given opportunity to
present their proposals to the committee, he remarked.
“We do not want to make it another burden on children under the
modern competitive education system.” It is evident that Information
technology (IT) will also become compulsory in the coming years. The
minister expressed the need to proceed, taking all these into
He is positive that the country possesses enough school teachers who
have done higher studies in History or Archaeology to support this
initiative after proper guidance.
Minister Balasuriya said that they hope to form a Heritage Policy
with the help of intellectuals and professionals in the field. “Heritage
policies are operative in many other countries such as Australia. We
will undertake this task and once formulated will be presented for
Cabinet approval,” he revealed. There is no doubt that the knowledge of
National Heritage is invaluable to everybody. It can improve one’s
attachment to one’s motherland. It also helps to enhance creativity.
With this knowledge our future generation will be able to admire and
derive inspiration from our dignified history.