What to do With the Students?
Posted on December 20th, 2011


Sri Lanka’s university student population is a disgrace.

Through the Languages Act and affirmative action in university admissions through standardization, post-colonial governments sought to democratize the state apparatus by creating an educated class of ordinary folk (of all ethnicities) who could replace the entrenched hordes of imperial stooges. This would uplift society, protect the nation from those sympathetic to outside influences, and win votes.

Though successful in removing a usurping class of rulers from the halls of power, and in widening access to higher education, an unwanted side-effect of the policy has produced a calamity.

It turns out that the children of the common man, especially it seems the Sinhalese Buddhist ones, are not all that interested in education and personal betterment. Rather, they see university entrance as a ticket to enjoy 4, 5, or 6 years of public-funded holiday, only to emerge as battle-hardened thugs spewing vitriol, behaving like gangsters, and sporting the menancing look of a Somali pirate.

On graduation day they stand smug and self-righteous, experts at brutal ragging, clutching a worthless degree in one hand, and a blade, gun, hypodermic needle, or picture of a Marxist murderer in the other. Sadly, this defilement of a precious education is merely an extension of the previous generation’s own corrupt hypocrisy.

For, those that graduated in the middle of the last century took the skills they learned to the West, used the wonders of capitalism to reach heights of prosperity and comfort, and while standing upon a pedestal of free markets and industrialization, began to proselytize from distant shores the Marxism, statism, and overall primitiveness which they themselves refuse to live under.

Indeed, it is this same evil philosophy that failed generations of poor youth around the world in general, and lead to the deaths of thousands of Sri Lankan youth in particular. The urge to follow one’s elders still remains strong in today’s youth, and when they see the western-domiciled expatriate leftists of yesteryear now speaking ill of capitalism, they feel vindicated in their misguided beliefs about “communal good,” and the politics and economics of equal stagnation being morally superior to capitalist excellence.

Expecting and demanding a public sector job “”‚ wherein they can waste away the days shouting Marxist slogans, taking as long as possible to do even the simplest of tasks, and with a guaranteed pension despite providing no contribution to society “”‚ today’s progeny of yesterday’s Maoists riot or attack faculty, or each other, if even the slightest criticism is made.

In the past such vile behaviour was limited to the arts students whose “qualification” had no real practical value. But soon enough the medical students were also getting in on the act. Determined to rob people of as much money as possible by practicing as unethical vultures (mas kakko), they protest against a private medical college because this will allow decent people’s children to once again become doctors.

A central plank of their opposition to such a private institute being set up is that standards will slip and so patients will be harmed. But really, can a student body who entered medical school with barely a pass at O- and A-level thanks to the Area Basis concessions, make such a case for standards? And as far as patient safety, the stories we see and hear day in and day out easily shows how little concern Sri Lankan doctors have for patients. The only part of a patient they are interested in is his wallet, nothing more.

The argument about the quality of Sri Lankan medicine can be made simply: when unwell, where do businessmen and politicians seek help? The answer “”‚ anywhere but Sri Lanka “”‚ reveals all.

It is well past time for root and branch reform of the education sector.

First, alongside scores, the calibre of those applying should play a large role in deciding who gets admission to university, especially if they seek to become doctors, lawyers or other pillars of society. Second, the weighting for rural areas must be reduced, but not eliminated until educational facilities and pupil-teacher ratios in underserved areas are more equal with the cities.

Third, ethnic polarization in the universities must end by encouraging mixed populations of students in all institutions and banning race based associations, clubs and teams. Fourth, standards must be driven upwards by increasing the level of analysis and thought required and reducing the present emphasis on rote-memorization which is only useful for creating a foundation in the school years and not suited for tertiary education.

Fifth and most important, discipline must be enforced so that all feel safe and welcome in university campuses “”‚ any and all violent agitators must be expelled and banned from readmission.

Long-term stability for the country lies in a better educated, disciplined people. To that end, these changes, among others, are required now more than ever so that the proceeds of economic growth currently enjoyed can be translated into personal, intellectual, and moral development of the youth and the nation as a whole.

Sri Lanka’s students are sorely lacking in quality, and sub-standard attitudes and behaviours are tolerated to our own detriment. Time to raise the bar!

One Response to “What to do With the Students?”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    I am posting below a website showing how one man in India opened a Barefoot College. Some of his ideas may work in Sri Lanka too. Self help using plentiful natural resources is so creative leading to self respect, and that is the best way to go. It empowers people and removes feelings of bitterness & futility which is what an Arts Faculty graduate may end up feeling re jobs and future … I am not sure.


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