Thursday, May 19, 2016

Foresight Summit is missing a key word – Education

Without Education, one cannot have any foresight, nor can one innovate. Isn’t it then not surprising that owing to this lack of Education, the contribution of stakeholders to this important strategizing process, is woefully inadequate?

This word screams out loud at me, when I reflect on the real reason for our National Problem, when as a Country we are blessed in every sense of the word.

If we had educated people, we would never have suffered a series of cataclysmic insurrections of civil strife, especially since Independence, when we have been the masters of our own destiny. So what is this lack of Education?

After all, the 1971 JVP uprising that had a significant impact on my life and the course it took due to local uncertainties, was borne out of frustrations of the so called, educated Youth. No, they were so uneducated, they did not realize the extent of their lack of knowledge, that the Bandaranayake Hela Basha regimen imposed on them, that ironically his widow, Sirima, had to confront the by products of this transition, due her husband’s misunderstood drive to embrace the vernacular, when it failed in delivery. The newly empowered educated, were simply not employable, or there were insufficient employment opportunities for the skills they possessed.

This lesson of 1971 and subsequent insurrections have still NOT been learned. We appear to continue down this same misguided path, where products of this education, fail to achieve their potential. This is because they are NOT sufficiently educated to understand their shortcomings in a Global context, where unless they are able to adapt to changes occurring in other countries, and be flexible, they will NOT be able to achieve their life’s ambitions, despite being graduates of the state University system.

It is this readiness to face reality, is what I refer to here as Education. It is NOT merely a certificate to that one has obtained the minimum marks to get it. What is needed is an Education that satisfies the aspirations of the job seeker. The seeker in this instance, believes himself to be educated, and is therefore under the misunderstanding that they are somehow entitled to a job.

The Sri Lanka Economy is facing many challenges due to the actions of successive Governments, that in hindsight have made very poor decisions, on behalf of its subjects. We can blame no one or acts of God, as we have been spared many of the disasters other are faced with, with the Tsunami being the notable exception. For a Country that is regressing in the era of progress a massive U turn is the only solution to this dilemma.
Education is therefore at the heart and SOUL of this change that we need. I believe the Prime Minister also subscribes to this, but is woefully short of talented people who can deliver on the promises made. If truth be told, the whole concept and execution of Education is in need of a nuclear explosion. This must be a GAME CHANGER if the people’s aspirations for clean Government, Environmental Conservation, Better Education and Healthcare and Nutrition are to be fulfilled.

What is Education? Who are the stakeholders? What is the objective of the Education we seek? As mentioned earlier we are inextricably part of the Global Electorate. There is NO going back on it, with 2 million+ citizens working temporarily in foreign lands. We now cater to Global markets of people, goods and services, and we are mere bit players, who must turn it to our advantages. Being a bit player has its advantages, especially when we can identify niches we can specialize in as we can never compete on economies of scale in production.

In this game of finding niches, INNOVATION is the key to learning tools of the future in order to create an educated person. The INTERNET has brought home like no other medium, how limited an individual’s knowledge is, and how easy it is to access any information we want, and what it is we want from that information to benefit us. We therefore have NO excuse to be uneducated, as it becomes, merely a means to the goals we set ourselves.

In that context during the child phase of a person, that is up until O level stage, or age 16, the State should take responsibility of providing the basic knowledge needed for a person’s future adult development. After that point the person should be armed with the tools for their own development, with the knowledge of how they can go about acquiring the additional skills for the job, vocation, or income stream they plan to earn from. SO to repeat, till age 16 the STATE KNOWS BEST, and the FORESIGHT here is to determine what our citizens MUST know by that age, and how we can go about giving them that knowledge. It is clear that we have to go back to basics again. The present system has failed in giving what is needed in 2016, and a complete overhaul is sorely needed. NOT sticking plaster for a broken leg, it has just got to be fixed properly.

The FORESIGHT is to realize that the Parents of today, have singularly failed in their parenting, possibly due to their lack of skills, (aka Education) and we must take alternative steps to somehow repair this crack in the basic foundation of a child’s life. The state MUST shoulder this burden through a sophisticated system of pre-schools, with highly trained teachers, to start our students on the right path, because the preparatory disciplining prior to school entry is as vital as all the years in school, and the NEW EDUCATION MUST ENCOMPASS it.

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