Saturday, May 26, 2012

Challenge of empowering our University Students to be more than Robots

We held a daylong seminar yesterday for 50 University students from campuses all around the country, to take upon themselves the political organization in their particular University, so that they can give a clear message to new members of where they stand vis a vis issues of importance to them, as well as to give them a general education on how the organization’s vision differs from other bodies within the Universities and how they can clearly point out the benefits of joining this as opposed to another, with their personal goals at the head of the agenda.

It was a difficult concept for students to get them to think for themselves on what is of utmost importance to them rather than for someone else. Up to now political organizations have taken the thinking and the personal analysis out and instill a rigid dogma which they do not want their membership to veer away from.

We on the other hand explain the principles of the vision and ask the student to formulate a plan in keeping with them. If they disagree with the principals per se, they have no way of going to the next stage. I found this a hard concept for them to understand as they wanted to be told what to do! Is this what we have inherited from our free education? No wonder, employers do not want to hire a graduate from a Sri Lankan university. In explaining the reasons of this phenomenon and why they are unable to land the many jobs available in the marketplace, I find it difficult to get them to realize that they have many shortcomings, and they would do well to surmount them now whilst at University and not have to face them when they come to the job market and begin their job search and then be disappointed.

We tried to explain what a demoralizing political gimmick the government was engaged in, by taking a few thousand Graduates off the unemployed rolls, by putting them in divisional secretariats, paying them a monthly stipend of Rs10,000 and not giving them a specific task as those offices are overstaffed at the best of times, and is a complete waste of the state’s resources. It would have been better to give them a course paid for by the state, in life skills development where they try to teach people to look inward and find what it is that they are looking for before commencing a job search. That would have been a more appropriate use of this money. I am sure it will pay dividends by empowering those students to think for themselves and not rely on bankrupt state jobs to get them into employment.

We were also tasked with explaining how they could benefit from the global marketplace if they can direct their energy to concentrate on the jobs available in the future another concept alien to them.

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