Is it really a new dawn or false hope?
Posted on October 24th, 2010

Ajit Randeniya

The Sri Lankan government and the politicians have justifiably been upbeat about the social and economic future of the country following the end of the war. However, experience on the ground seems to suggest that the buoyant feeling and the exuberance does not extend beyond the crudely abstract level to well considered plans of action.

The sad fact about the situation is that the very foundation of the thinking that made the military defeat of the LTTE possible, such as the discarding of the ‘Solheim orthodoxy’ that ‘the LTTE cannot be militarily defeated’ and the adoption of inventive, home-made military plans that disregarded other ‘expert’ opinions of conspiratorial foreign elements seems to have been discarded, obviously unwittingly, by the government apparatchiks.

The promise of the new economic ‘dawn’ seems to be based on the same old, tired IMF and World Bank formulae of J.R. Jayawardena, of ‘attracting’ foreign investments at all costs, especially to the poor and the environment, making the vast majority of the population poorer.

The lack of consistency between the promises, strategies and the achievements were made clear the starkest way possible when the price of bread was increased the same week, by the same bureaucracy who were crowing about from roof tops about achieving a very impressive ‘growth’ rate of eight per cent.

Clearly the people who devise the economic plans and make decisions on price increases seem to fail to see any connection between the two events: for them, it seems, that economic development is not something the wider, poorer population need to ‘experience’ through improved living conditions, but simply a matter of producing the right statistics to impress the IMF man ‘stationed’ at the Central Bank building!

In the meantime, there is talk of ‘mega’ tourist hotel development projects and the Minister of Higher Education seems to be in a mighty hurry to get foreign universities established. Such cases of naivety and ignorance of the key people behind the government points to a real risk that the ‘dawn’ of a new Sri Lanka could well be ‘still born’.

Speaking of tourism, there is no country in the world, including the idyllic islands of the West Indies or the Pacific, that have realised anything approaching economic ‘nirvana’ by relying on this degrading business. The best an economy based on it could hope for is economic boom times in the richer, white parts of the world so that some of them decide to ‘splash out’ by turning up at our beaches; we wait to pick up crumbs off their tables. The unfortunate reality is that they themselves are becoming poorer and international travel is becoming more and more the preserve of a small minority in these countries. The ‘cultural genocide’ of coastal communities such as Hikkaduwa provides another good reason for not committing this particular ‘JR mistake again.

The government has the responsibility to assist the young, intelligent and able bodied Sri Lankan youth make their lives useful to themselves, their families and the wider community by providing opportunities based on new creative ideas, rather than making them (under)employed as room boys, waiters, gardeners and cleaners in tourist hotels, waiting for the ‘tourist’ to arrive, like the famous ‘cargo cult’ people in Papua New Guinea who are waiting for the airplane of goodies.

Minister S.B. Dissanayke’s plan to hand over the higher education sector to foreign universities could well complete the destruction of the generations of young Sri Lankans that started with the hideous phenomenon of the ‘international school’: a cancer introduced to Sri Lanka through the corrupt enterprise of JR’s ‘advisors’ like Wickrama Weerasuriya.

Just last week, the news came out that one such school – the Colombo International School (CIS)- has been eagerly ‘Introducing Moral Issues’ to 11 and 12 year old Sri Lankan children, through printed matter designed by someone called Joe Jenkins. The ‘book’ apparently gives details of ‘methods’ of making love and explains details of sexual acts, the use of contraceptives and abortion e among a host of other adult material: even this writer who takes a blasé approach to such matters finds this act repulsive. The question that arises is, why?

The principal of CIS, a pale skin named M.J. Chappel has told the Sunday Times that the particular ‘book’ is usually issued to children over 15 years in his home country, the UK. He has also said that the booklet had been in the syllabus since 1997 without complaints from any quarters and that it is not ‘discussed’ in the class room. The foreigner has arrogantly declared that “the booklet will stay where it is and the matter ends there”.

There are several deductions one could make from the incident as well as Chappel’s pathetic and arrogant justification of this dastardly act. Firstly Chappel obviously knows that it is enough to hand a razor to a monkey and the rest follows; one does not need to teach the monkey how to harm himself. Secondly, the question arises as to whose agenda does the lowering of the age limit to this ‘book’ serve? Thirdly, the fact that none of the parents have complained since 1997 shows the ‘class’ of people whom these so-called schools serve –the loud throngs of the ‘nouveau riche’ who may have lots of often ill-gotten money but little else.

The bottom line is, the country is surrendering its most valuable resource, its young people, to foreign elements like the Chappel character here and there simply is no local control once they are minds are ‘corrupted’ in this manner at such a tender age. But Dissanayake wants to complete the carnage! Instead, he needs to be looking at expanding the higher and vocational education sector to increase opportunities for the young people. He is paid handsomely to do that!

Such news points to the sad and dangerous possibility that the broader government leadership and the mechanisms are not ‘on-the-ball’, but simply going through the motions of the so-called public service. The opportunity the end of the war, together with the leadership of President Rajapkse provides is too valuable to be squandered in this manner.

There is an urgent need for a ‘sit down’ and careful revisiting of the governments plans and more importantly the strategies to achieve them. A person like Gotabhaya Rajapakse who has proven his managerial skills through the military operations may have to ‘oversee’ the government agenda and strategies.

We live in hope!

7 Responses to “Is it really a new dawn or false hope?”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    Ajith, This is exactly where the Guardians of Education, and more over the guardians of the Children and Parents, should stamp their foot down, and ask this CIS Principal, why is it that a book of love, romance and sex, which was prepared for the over 15 children in his country, being introduced to Children over in Sri Lanka, who are only 11years to 12years of age. This pale skinned White Fellows intention may be very sinister, to inveigle little toddlers, 11-12years of age, to form a sex cult, and further his notions on a very secret agenda. He has shown the thrada British arrogance, by saying, ” THE BOOK WILL STAY WHERE IT IS AND THE MATTER ENDS THERE, ”

    Please believe me, DONT LET THES LITTE CHILDREN BE DEPRAVED BY THIS CHAPPAL. Kick him out.

    Do we Sri Lankans really have to get a half past two pale white fella, to teach our children English, and then slowly sliding down on the Syllubus, to teach adult hood actions, at this outrageously low age between 11years and 12 years of age. For Heavens Sake, do not we realise that these are TODDLERS, with the milk smells in their mouths still.

    IF I were a Director of Education, my first impulse would be to ask this White Fellow to Leave the Country In 24 TWENTY FOURS, just the way Late Hon T.B. Illangaratne sent away a white fellow from a Church Assembly managed Lakpahana Estate in Hanguranketha, in 24hours. I saw him crying and getting into the Car. That is how white arrogance should be treated.

    IT IS TIME THAT SRI LANKANS STOP CRINGING AND BEING NAIVE AND SERVILE TO THESE WHITE FELLOWS WHO SHOW ARROGANCE< when confronted with SADISTIC TEACHING AGENDAS.

    What little children need to learn are all the subjects that are on their curriculum. CERTAINLY NOT SEX.
    They need to learn English, Arithmatic, Sinhala, Hygiene & Phisiology, History, Geography, and possibly Latin.

    A word of caution to the Education Ministers and Directors, PLEASE STOP IMPORTING WHITE SKINS WHO ARE COMING TO TEACH SEX TO OUR CHILDREN. FOR A START,, just pack this Fellow off in TWENTY FOUR OUT OF THE COUNTRY. MODALITIES CAN BE WORKED OUT.

    Trying to teach SEX and Contrceptives to little children is deplorable. May be time to shut dow the school too.

  2. Weeraya Says:

    Seems very impractical to me. So should we shut down all existing hotels in the country from what you say? Well Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, UAE depend big time on tourism. Malaysia attracts some 15 million tourists per year. Hard to depend on manufacturing as our energy costs are higher than elsewhere in Asia. Now that we lost GSP plus, we cant dominate in garments.

    Also, Australian universities have setup branches in Malaysia. Monash and Deakin have branches in Malaysia. RMIT has a branch in Ho Chi Minh. By allowing foreign universities in our shores, we can save billions of money going out of the country. Already there is ACBT in Colombo. We as a country face a big time brain drain. So by encouraging foreign investment and creating more job opportunities is the best way to peg the brain drain.

  3. sena Says:

    The article has good points but could have been presented without being racial and unnecessarily suspicious of foreigners. The learned head of the school is not arrogant in saying that. He stand by his conviction, a trait very rare among Sri Lankan officials who simply are yes men and women to politicians and to people of power even in circumstances which are very harmful to the country. The principal may change his opinion after a session with the parents or the authorities which is the standard way things happen in a democracy and no need to get emotional. And of course we should not forget our social habit of sweeping the sexual abuses under the carpet and I guess this book make aware of such abuses to the kids so they are better informed (especially girls who as per our social traits do not always get justice when abused by boys or men). Now I see a contradiction in our so called nationalistic feelings. While we are very suspicious of foreigners we venerate English to the point that it has become the main deciding factor in social and employment standings. Since independence selection to all important positions in public and private sector has this as the most important criteria, over others such as creativity. That may be one of the reasons that our professionals have contributed very little to the economy over all these years and depend on the blue collar workers in plantation, agriculture, house maids, garments for their pay check. As the writer correctly point out simply waiting for outside investment and banking of hollow ventures like tourism (he forget to mention even more demeaning practice of sending our women as house maids) will take us no where. A more prudent approach is technology transfer in establishing industries which become untenable in more develop countries which will eventually lead to our own technology base and later leading to our own inventions (needless to say our university educated professionals are the main enablers in this venture). Professionals in our East Asian countries have already done that are now even venturing in to new technologies threatening the superiority of western countries. And one more point, these professionals do not use English as way of job requirement but as a tool to gather knowledge

  4. Ben_silva Says:

    We live in a tough old world in a global economy and a global market place. We need to move over to the 21st century and learn skills to survive and win. We need to assess external threats and take measures to deal with external threats. My opinion is that we cannot live like frogs in a well. If we do, then there is a danger that we may meet the same fate as Indian Buddhists. Tourism creates job opportunities in the tertiary sector. Foreign universities are also good as it gives us some measure of standards and also show us the need to be competitive. As for maids working in the ME, we should encourage and support our women to learn new skills that can be used to generate an income. We also need to make use of fish resources that are available.

  5. Nanda Says:

    Ben,
    Ajit did not ask for stopping all development and technological advancements. That was what the Indians did until some ten years ago and SriLanka followed.
    He is asking for more government scrunity, laws to tackle enemy forces. He is also asking the government to look after children rather than western style sex liberilism. That is all.
    Why did you bring up “Indian Buddhist” again ? Nothing happened to Indian Buddhist. they became Indian Hindus. So what ?
    Are you a lover of Sri lanka or lover of Buddhism or a lover of Christianity ? If you want to preserve Buddhism I challange you to become an arahant first. Buddhism was started and protected by arahants, not by priests.

  6. Ben_silva Says:

    Ajits article is good and I did not criticize it. I merely gave some additional views. As for Indian Buddhists, a good number got killed and Hindus ended up in rivers of blood.

  7. Ben_silva Says:

    Answer to Nanda What happened to Buddhists – http://allahhasnofuture.blogspot.com/2010/01/islam-will-wipe-out-buddhism.html
    Muslims destroyed all Buddhistic temples and institutions and killed all Buddhist monks in Nalanda. When attacked and massacred by the Muslims, the Buddhists initially did not make any attempt to escape from their murderers. They accepted death with an air of fatalism and destiny. And hence they are not around today to tell their story.”Do you want a repeat performance by being ignorant and passive?

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