James A Garfield the 20th President of the United States of America once said that next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.
I firmly believe that a distinctive structure of education will underpin and hold together every aspect of society and create an environment for individual growth as well as for collective development of a community. I believe in an education system that builds character of people. I believe in an education system that promotes sound values. I believe that education must come hand in hand with spirituality. You will agree with me that education is not accumulation of knowledge and passing exams. The quality of a country’s education cannot be measured by how many graduates it had produced and neither by percentages. Unfortunately there are many graduates today with just a certificate who are ill equipped to do an honest job. They do not fit in a working environment. Some of the graduates find it difficult to be a part of a team to achieve organizational and institutional goals. Today we do injustice to our youth by providing them “education” through a system that is short term and focused on narrow political ideologies. Many short sighted leaders in the past have introduced reforms that are popular and bring in a large number of votes to their party. These reforms have and not necessarily focused on long term goals of a nation
Sri Lanka is at critical crossroads. We are in a nation building process after a war that spanned over 30 long years. However nation building is not restricted to construction of roads, bridges and buildings. I believe it should start with people. Sri Lanka has a unique story to tell the world. There is so much we have learned and there is so much we have to unlearn. We must learn to leave in peace and harmony with all ethnic groups. New subjects must enter our curriculum irrespective of area of education.
Today access to information is considered as all important to broaden one’s mind and to appreciate opportunities. Information gives us solutions to our problems. However information is nothing if we do not know what do with it and how to relate to others.
I believe that an educated society values the concept of education itself. It values human dignity and diversity of thought. Just as there is no limit to learning, we need to raise our standards constantly. There is no such thing as politicians who are in power in an educated society…
There are those who are in office who serve an empowered constituency
Educated society will produce leaders who: