I was saddened to hear the President of Sri Lanka explicitly state in a speech in the Batticaloa District yesterday, that the opposition is bent on preventing the improvement in living standards of the people of Sri Lanka. In my opinion the quality of life of a person and his or her ability to better themselves in life depends on the level of education they receive and in that respect I challenge his words.
In looking at the current appropriation bill presented to the Speaker, the fact that the funds allocated for education are 15% of that allocated to the Ministry of Defense is a travesty of the worst kind and proof of the lie that the President appears to perpetrate to hoodwink the masses he seems to want to keep ignorant!
I come across so many CV’s of people today, mostly of youth between the ages of 16 and 26 and I find their level of education staggeringly below par, and shockingly unaware of how to obtain employment. Upon investigation, one finds that most of this is not their or their parents fault but of the whole education system in Sri Lanka that just does not have the resources allocated to them to train our people to even the basic levels.
I was recently at a school not half hour away from Colombo, to donate 30 chairs from an MP’s decentralized budget. I cannot think of a more ridiculous thing for an MP to be asked for such on behalf of a school, when the Government must ensure that the school has chairs for the pupils to sit on. I sat on a school chair during the course of the function and the speeches of thanks from the teachers, and I can honestly tell you my backside hurt from sitting on a school chair. I challenge Bandula Gunewardene, the Minister of Education to sit on these chairs for half an hour and then he would insist schools have basic chairs for students to sit on before providing any other equipment and then demand that the President double his education budget by cutting the allocation for Defense.
This “Miracle of Asia” is a pipe dream if we are not able to educate our citizens, first to be able to read and write in their mother tongue and then have the numeracy and English skills necessary for any job in Sri Lanka, except perhaps in a bloated government bureaucracy. Education is the best investment a Nation can give its people. It cannot be shortchanged, like the current road building program where 50% of the cost (all borrowed money) goes for the commission and bribe industry. We do not want a country with more roads for wealthy to travel on than brains the poor can live by and improve their quality of life. So please stop politicking and start governing, Mr. President you have had a long innings, but knowledge is bust!!