Unseen facet of brain drain in Sri Lanka
We, the productions of free education system in Sri Lanka should
serve the country. This is a real patriotic thought and no one would
ever disagree. Yet, all those Sri Lankan professional migrants are not
disloyal to their Motherland because certain circumstances urge them do
so. Some may migrate due to academic or professional reasons or some may
do so due to monetary reasons but have you ever heard some professionals
are compelled to migrate due to professional jealousy?
Jealousy has its own shapes and potentialities. Jealousy emerges in
different forms. The worst form of jealousy is professional jealousy
that could make people animals. The following true experience will help
you comprehend how dangerous professional jealousy is and how it changes
the dreams and expectations of innocent victims in a jiffy.
A friend of mine, a well-qualified English teacher, was the team
leader of the English medium stream of a certain government school. He
together with the English medium staff rendered yeoman service to
streamline the standard of English education of the students who were
from marginalized Colony families in that school.
Tireless effort of the English medium staff boosted the standard of
English. As a result 15 students of the English medium stream were
awarded a scholarship to go to India under the Global School Link
Project conducted by the British Council. It was a great achievement in
the history of that school.
In the mean time my friend who was interested in academic and
professional improvement applied for Post Graduate Diploma in Education
(TESL) in Colombo University and was selected to a batch of 30
candidates by a selection test. It was a rare opportunity and he
informed the Principal that he would be on duty leave for one year.
Curse or blessing?
At the meeting with the Principal, the harsh words used by the
Principal made my friend totally disappointed. “You will pursue your
higher studies but what will happen to the students of the English
medium stream? They will be failures at the exam. That will be a curse
upon your own children.” “If my temporary retirement from teaching is a
curse upon my own children, what will happen to the tireless efforts I
made in uplifting the standard of English education? Won’t that be a
blessing upon my own children?” answered back my friend. “I have my
right to education. Nobody can object to it”. “Yes you have your rights.
If I too had the fluency in English, I would have worn a tie and been
in an AC room. Since I am from Anamaduwa and from a non-English back
ground I am just a school principal.” Then only the cat jumped out of
Out of work
After completion of his Post Graduate studies he was re-appointed to
the same school. Before he left the school for his higher education he
had been entrusted to work for 38 periods of work out of 40 periods per
Though he was eagerly waiting to apply latest methods of education he
learnt during the course, he was not given a timetable for two months.
When the team inspection was done by a panel of directors and
instructors my friend had informed them about the injustice caused to
him but his request had fallen on deaf ears.
His English instructor, who was not as qualified as my friend, was
blinded by professional jealousy. He had not done anything in his
This tragedy continued for three months. My friend had approached the
Zonal Director of Education and had requested for a transfer keeping all
the dirt under the carpet.
The director rang up the principal immediately and said to my friend,
“Your Principal said that he needed you.”
My friend had not informed the double game played by the Principal.
He made several requests to the Education Director but they were futile.
English instructors who were dead against his climbing the ladder of
higher education did not help him in any way possible.
If my friend had earned a due transfer to another school, before he
had reached the new school premises, the problematic Principal of the
present school would have drawn certain mental pictures; especially dark
pictures of my friend in the mind of the new principal according to his
own whims and fancies. That is a dirty habit of certain principals who
do not have principles.
They assume the teachers who work on the staff are their servants or
the salary is paid by the principals themselves. Such is the nature of
certain politically influential principals who tarnish the good image of
the genuine principals, too.
If my friend was transferred, the new principal would have looked at
my friend with the glasses worn by the previous principal without
letting my friend be in peace.
The atmosphere created by the principal would have been unhealthy.
This has been a dangerous situation in the government sector and
especially in the field of education. There is an unseen monopoly among
certain Principals and the rest of the hierarchy in the department. If a
teacher is an ‘Ayeiah’ or a henchman who is not a threat to the
positions of the Principals, such a teacher can exist in the field in
peace. They are good for nothing people.
Having being utterly frustrated, my friend in the meantime applied
for a teaching opportunity in Maldives where qualified teachers are
Having all the requisite educational and professional qualifications
he was offered grade one teacher category together with the salary of
Rupees 115,000 whereas in Sri Lanka he was paid Rupees 22,000 only.
He found easy passage to migrate. My friend was not for migration but
those unexpected unjust circumstances tempted him. What a crime? Such
qualified quality teachers are badly in need of the country but
professional jealousy deprives the professionalism of such teachers to
our own country.
I am in a way happy for his migration because at least he has won his
due recognition in a foreign land that was denied in his own land. As
long as we are blinded by our own short sightedness and professional
jealousy our nation will never prosper.