UNREST IN MAHARA PRISON AND VALUE EDUCATION IN SRI LANKA
Posted on December 6th, 2020

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

After the LTTE war, the most internationally noted incident in Sri Lanka was the unrest in Mahara Prison, and pictures of the incident have been viewed globally through social media. The factors that contributed to unrest seem to be contradicted and ordinary people are confused by a range of information provided by the authority, government, analysts, opposition politicians, media, and many others. Some people attempted to use the case to animadversion the government and to disgrace the government using the points that may use for the internationalization of the issue.  Not only in Sri Lanka but also many countries have prison management related issues, and no country is immune to the problem that should be critically looked by policymakers.

As a ratio, the involvement of people in the case in Sri Lanka is less than 0.001%, and many people who observed the incident attempted to express concern saying they were not involved in, and the morally significant question is, can people wash hands or deviate from the issue purely considering the point that they have no individual or collective involvement?  The reporting system focused to point out to give a message that prisoners involved in the unrest were narcotic dealers or consumers, and when people are associated with narcotic, good people also could become violent and involve anti-social behavior that is applied all over the world and the law and order have failed to control it. Policymakers of the country need to think about the issue and look to broader perspectives or angles to change the behavior of people. Attitudes of people contribute to make the world to construct or destroy.

When deeply analyzes the incident, it invites policymakers to open eyes on deeply rooted issues in the country that are neglected by responsible authorities.  Before the presidential election in 2019, people demanded was to take firm action to eliminate narcotic and the underworld from Sri Lanka’s soil, and Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has taken firm actions to eliminate drugs and the underworld. Illicit drug dealing and the activities of the underworld are all over the world and many governments spend trillions of dollars to control the issue, however, despite large spending illicit drug production, distribution, and underworld activities are operating in the world.  Individually, no country can deal with the issue, and changing the attitude of people may be an effective way of control.

Economically, illicit drugs and the underworld activities in Sri Lanka have created a black economy that harm, the day-to-day life of poor people, increasing inflation, shortage of essential items, misuse of foreign exchange, and many others. According disclosed evidence, drug dealers disregard foreign exchange regulations of the country and use illegal methods to transfer money for the payments of narcotic and it seems a legally acceptable way of transferring money.  The actual economic value of illicit drug dealing and underworld activities has not been estimated, and the impact of such activities on peace-loving people is unknown. Few individuals have been benefited from these drugs, underworld activities, and organized crimes, and no doubt that the liberalized economic policies and the wars of terrorists (LTTE and Islamists) have contributed to promoting anti-social and corrupt behaviours in the country. Why people engage in this anti-social behaviour when they have a simple way to go forward? Some left politicians talked about the issue in the parliament and attempted to attract public attention to the incident, however, it showed that the public has no sympathy toward anti-social behavior because people have suffered enough from drug dealers, consumers, underworld activists, and the environment created by these group of people. In Sri Lanka, many people talk about religions and the unrest of the Mahara Prison shows that religions are not working in society and sometimes, it is easier to assume that religions are working like opium that is not working to change the attitude of people in society.

During the LTTE war, many social analysts assumed that the possibility of social unrest or expanding anti-social activities in the country after ending the war because the war had strings from outside and manipulators of the war associated with anti-social behavior.  Since the early 1990s, the behavior of young people has been focused to make money by whatever strategies using and liberal rules of movements in many countries motivated young people to make money engage in whatever business. The behavior of young people pressured parents, and political and economic policymakers have not been stressed by the potential social issues that would cost a massive volume of government funds to deal with the issue.  

The major bestowal for the issue was the education policy of the country that continuously pursued isolation of young generation in society and promoting self-centred attitudes, disregarding the promoting and be responsible for issues in society. Young men who are being attended in the education system must have a good understanding to apply values in the life. It is not like religious preaching but training to apply values entire life and understand the impact of actions to society. Education policy in Sri Lanka promoted individualism, and this selfish policy got the involvement of parents in education of kids than giving an opportunity to learn about the society by kids understanding causes and effect of day-to-day practice of society. Despite the learning role giving to kids, parents are involved in education and competitive process of learning, and in this way, kids are not learning or gaining the values from education.  The major role of education is supposed to be performed by schools to create a value laden society, however, the role is pushed to private tuition providers and parents, and the significant involvement of parents than kids to really take part in education. Education in Sri Lanka has not focused students to analytically or positively think about the society.

The system of competitive examination such G.C.E. (Ordinary Level) and G.C.E (Advanced Level) and Scholarship examinations forced parents to involve more than motivating students to engage in productive education and the government spent a large sum of funds for the competitive testing ignoring reforms required in education. The education system should focus to make creative and value respected society.  The current education system is running out of the requirements. Academics involved in education reforms were products of the weak system, and had no knowledge, skills, and experience to change the system to promote a productive society, and positive thinkers and to apply social values and heavy involvement of parents has turned education to promote make money rather than to make responsible members in society.  In such a background, creating people involve in narcotic business is not strange, and it is the negative impact of current education system.

Many articles in Sunday newspapers analysed the Mahara Prison incident or unrest of prisoners, but nobody focused that the declining of value education in society supported to create the problem, and declining or ignoring value education in schools has massively contributed to the problem.  The education system in Sri Lanka promotes hate and disregard values in the efforts of making money.  Why policymakers of education think about this massive issue while promoting knowledge and skills through education?     

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