Monday, August 20, 2012

Gender imbalance in Politics

Despite Sri Lanka having a the world’s first Female Prime Minister and a female President who happened also to be the daughter of that Prime Minister, our Women’s representation in the political arena is pathetic.

I believe that in our Parliament, the primary legislative body, there are only 12 women from a total of 225 representatives, and 4 of them have been elected out of some past popularity such as either as film or teledrama actresses. It is therefore important that a law be brought in to provide for a minimum of female representation in all areas of Government, all tiers in fact as well as for youth representation.

It was interesting that I read an article today, where a Govt. committee tasked with this had suggested increasing representation to 30% and the women themselves had asked to reduce it to 10%. I know why the ladies wanted this reduced, as they feared the quality of the women who come up with a higher quota would suck, thereby giving the pioneers out there a bad name just because of the forced inclusion of under-qualified women. I do subscribe to that view point to some extent and believe that legislation should instead have a progressive change so that in 15 years it increases to a minimum of 25% from 10%, giving time to empower women into the political arena, an area they are reluctant to enter into unless there is a family connection or with a husband in the political arena from which to take over.

There is a consensus now that politics is dirty and one way of cleaning it up is by including women who are less likely to venture into the depths of today’s men especially the current UPFA Government’s henchmen who have shown the levels to which they disgraced themselves with no shame, as they have safety from prosecution from above.

It is important that legislation is brought into Parliament without delay so that the ball starts rolling and a new period of transition sets in. One can start this off from the next PS or local government elections and then gradually rise to the parliamentary elections. Unfortunately it is the males who will suffer from this initially and are less likely to pass the legislation if they look only at their future, but as it will be effective for Parliamentary elections after most are likely to have left the scene, there is a chance that it gets the attention it deserves sooner rather than later. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

The lack of credibility of Sri Lanka School Examinations

As I walk down the road by the DS School on Gregory’s and I see the worried looks of the students just about to go into the class room to sit their respective A level tests, and then I open the news papers in the office a few minutes later and discover that yet another question paper has dubious credibility, I wonder if there is any credibility left in the SL examination system.

I don’t think that ever in the history of this country there has been such a degree of mess up in the education system. Soon after the Z score fiasco that has not been resolved as yet, and students who sat the A levels OVER A YEAR AGO wait to know even if they have been selected to get into University, I think it is right for all citizens of honorable intent to question the whole legitimacy of the Government that tumbles from one disaster to another. I do not want to go into the questions such as adulterated diesel, and just wish to concentrate on the education sector alone as that has produced sufficient doubt in the minds of our people, to severely call into question the whole structure of education in Sri Lanka.

Add to this the unemployability of many who go through the State Education Sector, and their loss of faith, is a problem that is boundless! Most people have little choice. Not many are able to send their kids to private education and overcome the hurdles of the state system. So the students who are wasting away, seeing their competitors in the private sector get ahead due to the speed with which they roll from A levels to courses, and graduate at age 21 when the students only enter Universities in the state sector at that age, are left wondering what has hit them.

The government appears to be quite unable to grasp the seriousness of this issue. When a country’s examination system, that all students expect to give them the entre into the world of tertiary education and beyond, is fraught with an unholy mess of credibility, hopes of youth have been dashed. It is the lifeline that young people have to improve their lives, as other avenues are not as well developed in Sri Lanka.

The time is ripe for a rethink of what the nation deems its duty to its citizens, namely the youth who hold the future of the nation in their hands. It is simply the word education that has to be re engineered to suit the modern day, and removed from bureaucratic and state clutches.