Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A worthy critique on the true value of Higher Education – Qualifications!

Today’s Daily Mirror has an excellent article on the value to society of Higher Education. I recommend you read it and I just wish it is published in Sinhala, so that our intelligent students aiming for qualifications realizes that to mean much it is how knowledge is used for the benefit of oneself AND society that matters most.

I was thinking how we in Sri Lanka value qualifications above all, and spend a lifetime to acquire them in the belief that society judges our worth by the number of letters we have after our names and that somehow enables us to be thought off highly by people. Well to an extent it is true in Sri Lanka, as that is how we are programmed like robots to think.

This reminded me of an event I attended recently, where we spent so much time going through the persons achievements, especially the qualifications that person had to somehow bestow an aura that what he or she has to expound due to these qualifications is somehow far more reliable and believable than someone who does not have an iota of qualification, though years of life experience on the subject from which to expound their hypotheses.

Sri Lanka has dismally failed in everything we do, because though we have the most qualified accountants, there are more double and triple accountants in Sri Lanka than anywhere else in the world, however we have the LEAST BUSINESS savvy accountants in the world too, who don’t understand how a business is truly run, and the new methodology of adaptability each second to changes in the environment in which a particular business operates.

I as a farmer can with my hand in my heart say, that the SL farmer is the most attuned to constant changing environments. He even has to deal with changes to his prices many times a day. If you go to a Pola, and you see the farmers bringing their produce to sell, you will see them JUDGE the lay of the land, look at the competition, and set the price and change that price during the course of the day to match supply with demand, and leave with ALL the produce they brought sold, as otherwise they will just have to throw the perishables away.

So UBER you guys are not the first to have a changing price model, the farmers of Sri Lanka beat you to it, and you SIMPLY ADAPTED it to the vehicle hire business to match supply and demand on a moving continuum, using new technology to enable you to more efficiently manage this model for your benefit. Where in our Universities is this kind of lateral thinking adopted?


Anonymous said...

Next step is to use AI to determine what crops to grow where and when and to what extent.

Anonymous said...

Lol if there is one field where knowledge is so essential and not imparted it is farming in Sri Lanka. So how to leverage that requirement?

Stop all degrees in Agriculture from all campuses, and have district farming diplomas for local people, updating them on the most productive crops in their areas. Lets have hands on agricultural advisers, not political appointees, in the Govi Niyamika function and a team to monitor their work and assist them to help the farmers under their purview. This can make a big difference to the small farmer who is now pretty much on his own.

Anonymous said...

So is the fact that most members of parliament barely have a high school diploma a positive or negative phenomenon?

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

I think we are so obsessed as a nation about qualifications. That is why we use the point that politicians don't have an education as a reason for the misgovernment of 70 years.

Actually we must first understand why they go into politics. Firstly it is because they feel that is the ONLY way they can fill their inadequacy of education by gaining respect as a politician.

We have missed the point here. If did not bend in two and three and invite politicians to open all manner of things and put them on the "Murungaththa" we would not have this situation in the first place.

So our so called educated class of NON politicians should NOT bow and scrape to the politicians. That is the fault of the education system to believe somehow politics is a higher calling!

So if they did not pursue A levels and instead were taught to identify good from evil, we would be in a better place than today.

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side, many of our top business magnates have hardly had any formal education, so it is the non certificated type who succeed, while the certificated type rest on their laurels on the queue for a bus!
There are enough real world examples that Sri Lanka has failed purely due to the overemphasis of qualifications and under emphasis of true talent that lies undiscovered due to the former

Anonymous said...

There should be minimum levels of proficiency to be any professional, and the role of certifications is to be a basis for evaluating proficiency in certain fields. I'd suggest our mistake is identifying the proficiencies that are important to society (i.e. Phd in political science vs. diploma in agriculture/entrepreneurship) and secondly in evaluating the proficiency of people in these professions (i.e. There need to be practical testing along with paper based testing that evaluates ALL of the characteristics needed to be a responsible professional).

For every uneducated success story (leaders of industry) there are thousands of failures. Education is the way forward but implementation is important.

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

I beg to differ, on the last para. Uneducated success stories are the norm in entrepreneurship, including college drop outs who have founded all of the top companies in the world. There are NO uneducated failures by definition as nothing would be expected of an uneducated person anyway, so they cannot fail!

Most of the uneducated in Sri Lanka I know are probably in full employment, though they may be poor in material goods. That is more than I can say for those educated with degrees!

However I agree that we MUST have a minimum level of proficiency and to that extent as a Country we must spend as much resource as possible to ensure that the knowledge acquired by our youth up to the age of 16 is on a par with the BEST. They should be armed to face life, (empowered) what they do after that is their business, as they will choose what is best for them.

The problem now is they don't know how to choose what to do, what to learn, what course to pursue what vocation gives them satisfaction, which inevitably results in this relentless pursuit for qualifications that lead them no where, and they wonder why they don't have the choicest jobs with them, as if it is a right or entitlement based on this certificate or that.