Knowledge is universal, historical and shared by educated and intellectuals in the world. Access to education is recognized by the Constitution, United Nations and worldwide, as adopted in the academic Charter “Academia Constituio” at university of “Bologora” in 1158 or 1155 granting the right of travelling of unhindered passage of Knowledge and Education. It is said that Knowledge is power which is based in storage in University Education which is the cradle of knowledge of any Nation, where academic freedom is jealously guarded by the academics and protected by the law makers. Knowledge is a common language of educated worldwide shared through the higher educational institutions by sharing and exchanging hard earned knowledge and experiences.
Knowledge is universally shared and utilized by the world over through Universities with committed educated inter textual fraternity. Sri Lanka and India has world class Universities such an “Nalanda” and Sri Lanka has been a centre of education in the past with the Indian/Asian influence.
Sri Lankan Universities
Though not world class, Sri Lankan Universities are far above Asian and South Asian counterparts in many ways. Sri Lanka and the Asians are far below the world ranking mainly due to lack of resources. All Sri Lankan and Asian students excel in many international educational forums as brilliant academics and intellectuals. Out of many Peradeniya, Colombo, Medical, Moratuwa, and Open Universities worth mentioning are struggling to cope with the competition on the world league of Universities for a reasonable position. But do our universities live up to the expectations of the counterparts is a moot issue and to be decided by the citizen shouldering the burden of the enormous cost and at the receiving end from all over. Universities are geared and targeted for the development of a Nation and the future generations based on the educational policies of the respective countries. Did we have an Educational policies or do we have one at all is a dilemma and a moot issue before the citizen. Highest echelons of education are based on the centre of education structured on the needs of a country.
It is based on agriculture, Industry, culture, and similar areas and depend on the resource and environment - human resources being at the top of priority. Sri Lanka is basically an agricultural nation with no agricultural universities available and no proper coordination with the State, Private sector and the agriculture industry connected to the universities as in other countries. This is only an example of an area of studies. Israel emerged as a leader on High-tech and Agriculture 70 years ago with no water in a barren land surrounded by enemies. They desalinate sea water and produce water for consumption, industry, agriculture and to sell with the help of the universities and SME innovators. Today it is a world leader in agriculture/IT and adviser to major powers where the Universities have taken a pivotal role in making 95% on agriculture based on technology. Students in Israel, UK or in the West do not agitate for Jobs or any other facilities. “Jobs for University graduates are not guaranteed by the State anywhere in the World”. In Israel University students become SME’s with their innovations to be parts of the national development on agriculture, technology and other areas. In UK companies visit Universities to offer jobs as the students are productive to them for research and productivity. Only a small portion joins the government sector and rest on private sector and their own innovative and productive projects. Drug companies head-hunt students in universities for research looking for human resources from the universities. It is time Sri Lankan Universities and the authorities changed accordingly learning form the experiences of counterparts which is readily available through the university links worldwide network of education. Apparently the demand for students is in the education system geared to jobs, productivity and the development of a country including the private sector. We have too many Education Ministers and the Ministers of Higher Education are part time with many other commitments for them. Minister of higher education has another important and powerful ministry to manage and the deputy has the network of a successful private educational institution to manage and oversee. The country needs full time committed leaders in the Executive and the Legislature. This is food for thought during the formation of the new constitution which is in the making today. The Education Ministers have their own territory in isolation to manage the future of the country in education.
Article on Education
An article on education in a Sri Lankan newspaper prompted us to make these remarks as an eye opener of our authorities and the academics for an open discussion and an action plan to change the outlook and the fabric of the education system and culture which unfortunately is politicized by narrow minded politicians using students as pawns for their political needs creating unrest and blocking the bright future of our able students at the highest standards of education responsible for the future of the country. Tony Blair got schools to give healthy food in place of junk and declared that the priority was given for “Education, Education and Education”. Our University students are pawns of power hungry politicians frequently on strike when their counterparts in the other parts of the world are busy with studies and development of the country and themselves. They demand the closier of much needed private medical college which is a national necessity for the future of the country and the students who are compelled to study in substandard universities in Eastern Europe underdeveloped Asian countries with dire substandard conditions with meagre and basic education facilities, when we have the potential for the best education system and the academics no second to any in the world.
IT Language skills, General Knowledge and Private Education
These are areas to be improved for better results and to produce productive graduates with no burden to the country and themselves. It has become a fashion for students to carry a mobile phone, but link IT to subjects Is not heard of. Knowledge of English and other foreign languages are week or nil among many students. Private and practice education should be freely available to the students who could afford to raise standards and avoid billions of funds pouring out of the country. We must encourage and provide for private Medical Colleges, Technical, Agricultural and all other areas to attract foreign students. Education and universities should be linked to the agriculture and manufacture, industrial sector with IT and innovative enterprises with SME’s in public private partnerships with universities as in other parts of the world.
Country needs full transformation of the education system geared to employment and development. Mealy promising to increase the funding will not solve but aggravate the issues. Funds will be misused and wasted with no proper plan of action and strategy. It is still not too late for launching a policy for education and transform the universities in line with counterparts in countries with a vision and a vibrant policy changes. Unpalatable decisions such as reducing the number of Ministers/Ministries and give responsibility to the correct person for the job will be a good start. Discipline should be given top priority and a campaign to educate students, parents and the citizen on the values, value of education, while paving the way to keep the pace of the modern developments in Education and skills for human and other disciplines aiming at employment and development. Education should be linked to agriculture, IT, development, industry and the network of academic and practical excellence on education. Our aim should be to transform Sri Lanka to a Hub in Education in the Asian region attracting foreign students and improve the university to be close to the University League in the World to be a world class Education Hub. This is an achievable target as we are blessed and armed with world class students and educated intellectuals in Sri Lanka and worldwide prepared to serve and to be served.
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