BUILDING A VALUE EDUCATION STRUCTURE BASED ON AUSTRALIAN VALUES
Posted on September 21st, 2020

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

President Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa concerns education reforms, and I posted several articles on this website, regarding the reforming agenda, and my concern was directed to declining values in Sri Lanka’s society.  If value education included the curriculum with primary, secondary, and TVET education that could be used accelerating economic development, and growth, and to create value respected society in the country. Value education should be practiced from early childhood education to university education, and it is a broader practice.  Many problems in Sri Lanka are a result of lacking value practice in society. In any society, there may be less than 2% of people who don’t respect values, and it might associate with the Gene of a person.

Value education is a practical aspect of education that direct the development of positive attitudes, the education reforms agenda has become a talkative strategy than practical initiatives, and it seems that leaders in reforms are retired administrator, who were working in the 19th century. Now the job is a way of making money in the retired status than developing essential policy forms in the 20th century.  

Early in the first decade of the year 2000, after the 9/11 attack, the Australian Prime Minister and the Opposition leader opened a new debate on Australian values, and the Opposition leader suggested that not only migrants to Australia but also temporary visitors should be required to sign a statement at the time of applying for the visa that they will respect Australian values during the stay in the country. Some people expressed views that the debate appeared to be targeting migrants from certain countries, but it was a view only not a truth.  Many instances, original cultures, and social behavior of some people socked society, and tragedies experienced by the western world since the 9/11 attack and showed the way to suspect a certain type of religious, social, or cultural behavior of people may be a threat to Australian values.

Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka preceded to suspect activities and behavior of Muslims in Sri Lanka as a threat to peace-loving religious communities, and the response of many Muslims reflected that they were in a double stand or playing a double game in the society. Previous experience broadcasted that when there were cricket matches between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, although some Muslims who were citizens of Sri Lanka took the side of Pakistan and barracked against Sri Lanka.  It was not illegal behavior but the majority Sinhala people felt that it was disloyal to the country. When Sri Lanka lost games with Pakistan Muslims lighted firecrackers and enjoyed. It was a giving signal that when a tragedy occurred in the country some Muslims enjoyed rather than sharing the sorrow of the tragedy with the majority of the community. The behavior of some Muslims in Sri Lanka showed they did not respect values, and they are not consistent with even Muslim religious values.  Values are not against religions and they are consistent with all religions, which respect human dignity and equity. 

As civilized and educated people we must understand that people are individually and collectively different from birth and after death, they will become equal as ash or soil, which is the ultimate reality of the matter.  Many behavioral theories that support to confirm the reasons to be at variance with behavior.  Aristotle stated that people are different from size, shape, colors, and many other things, but people do share something universal, which is called HUMANESS”, that exists regardless of any human differences, and this is the reality of a human being.

People are born to deviating cultures and societies, which may not their choice, but it believes that it was the fate or the choices of God.” Buddhism and Hinduism interpret this as a result of Karma in a previous life.

What are values?  There are various definitions of values. Sometimes, we can see that the term value is used to refer to the inherently good things. For example, trust, fidelity, and love are good in society.  The term value also refers to as conviction, standard, which are used as a guide for behavior or making judgments about goodness, appropriate or integrity of actions, policies, or plans.  Different kinds of values see in society and values are not acceptable to other societies.  For example, the values of white society during the apartheid era in South Africa were not acceptable to democratic societies. One important thing concerning the values is that a person believes, respects, or adhere to think his or her values are superior and others inferior.  This is a cause for the origination of conflicts in society.

The ultimate reality of value is congruous although the culture or society may differ from each other due to climatic or people in various areas of civilization or stages of economic growth stated by Rostow.ww.  It was shown that some Australian politicians were dictating migrants, visitors, and citizens that they must respect Australian values, but no politician explained or initiated to educate migrants, visitors, and others about Australian values, which are not rhetoric, should respect and implement in society.  The other important point is politicians attempt to dictate values to migrants and visitors, but not for businessmen and investors.  Why do politicians think that money is more important than values? They think selling uranium to China or any other country where they do not respect Australian values to money is ok, whatever happen to values.

Politicians in Sri Lanka also behave similar way, for example, the nature of the behavior of politicians when destroying forest and trees they were either to looked for meaningless answers or blamed to private landowners thinking the destroying government forest is harmful but forest given to private investors by a leasing agreement is not harmful to the value of securing the environment.  If money comes to pocket it would not harmful when the environment is destroyed.

People should be aware of values, otherwise, they cannot obey them.  Without educating them about values mere rhetoric appears as the other side of the coin of white Australian policy.  Therefore, understanding Australian values would be supported to easily integrate into Australian society.  In Sri Lanka, there is no value structure to educate in schools, TVET institutions, and universities.  Disrespecting values and destroying values are obvious day to day experiences among students in Sri Lanka.

Education systems in many countries have integrated value education into the school curriculum. In the USA, Chile, South Africa, Vietnam, Colombia, and the Netherlands, value education is a specific part of primary and secondary curriculums.  This means school children in those countries gain a full understanding of their values in addition to general education in schools.  In Sri Lanka, value education is not a part of the school curriculum. Religious education has included school curriculums, but it is a deviation of educating students according to religions.  Value education is a common curriculum without religious differences and students in all religions study together.  In Sri Lanka, there is a value system called SARADHARMA”, they do not consist of democratic values, sometimes, SARADHARMA” demonstrates a strategy to attract respect to clergy and elders.  Respect is a value but it doesn’t mean that values limit the practical role to a limited group, it expands to a broader arena including the religion of self and others, etc.             

The National Framework of Value Education in Australian schools gives two views on values.

  • The principles and fundamental convictions, which act as general guides to behavior, and the standards, which particular actions are judged as good or desirable (Halstead &Taylor, 2000).
  • The deals that give significance to our lives that are reflected through the priorities that we choose and, that we act consistently” (Hill 2004).

Sri Lanka needs to develop a value structure to educate in schools and many Buddhist values such as Mercy, Compassion, Pity, Apprehension, and benignant could be included in the value structure. Religious values are similar in all religions.

There are nine Australian values in the framework for the school curriculum and they can adapt to value structure in Sri Lanka.

  1. Care and Compassion – caring for self and others Care and compassion are vital values in any society.
  2. Do your best – Seeking to accomplish something worthy and admirable, trying hard, and pursuing excellence.
  3. Fair Go – Pursuing and protecting the common good where all people are treated fairly for a just society.
  4. Freedom – Enjoying all the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship free from unnecessary interference or control and stand for the rights of others.
  5. Honesty and Trustworthiness – Being honest, sincere, and seeking the truth.
  6. Integrity- Acting by principles of moral, ethical conduct and ensuring consistency between words and deeds.
  7. Respect – Treating others with consideration and regard, respect another person’s point of view.
  8. Responsibility – Being accountable for one’s actions, resolving differences in constructive, non-violent, and peaceful ways, contributing to society, and civic life, and taking care of the environment.
  9. Understanding -Tolerance and Inclusion – Being aware of others and their cultures, accepting diversity within a democratic society, being included, and including others.

Australian values are recognized for education in schools and common to every in the society.

Sri Lanka needs a Building a value Education structure to educate commonly students.

(The author acknowledges the reference made to the National Framework for Values Education in Australia published by Department of Education, Science, and Training)

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