Posted on August 15th, 2023


The economic development of Sri Lanka is negatively afflicted by attitudes of policymakers and planners and the behaviour of them concerned with many practical aspects in the policy planning process. Negative attitudes of policy planners have a direct relationship with countrywide economic problems, and neither the government policy development process nor the political direction for changing attitude problems have not been successfully addressed by the political direction in the country since independence in 1948.

Attitudes mean the way people are thinking, which is disciplined and sophisticated by education. People gain education on various subject areas from schools and high education from universities and TVET institutions. Education in a variety of subject areas trains people to look at many subjective matters with different perspectives. Education could change a person’s thinking pattern by providing more accurate knowledge on various matters and learning process on diversified matters needs to be properly coordinated and provide to citizens. This means the knowledge gained from education, irrespective of the place it gained, would be useful to shape the attitudes, and support to advance the understanding of many issues in subject areas. Basic knowledge gaining process could not be fluctuated according to the place where the knowledge has been gained and from a person or institution from where did anyone gained education as the quality of education in Sri Lanka differs from rural to urban not because the government policy but because of the personnel associated with offering education. Despite this situation the ethical behaviour is that if the knowledge gained considers accurate, it should be recognised as standard disregarding the place of knowledge was gained.

However, in Sri Lanka, those who gained education from Colombo Schools and other major private schools in regional areas attempt to show that the knowledge gained from urban schools and private schools was superior to the knowledge gained from village schools. This is the mythical attitude of Sri Lankan. This should be decided by educational experts, but not by personnel who have no expertise on the matter. The view may have been a considerably debatable opinion. A teacher who recently retired from a school in Sri Lanka told me that schools are informally divided by people as excellent and not good. And this classification may not be based on the available supportive statistics, it is an allegorical classification by certain people in the country. I told her this type of classification has no justice for education, which is the basic right of all citizens.

When considering education, it relates to various subject areas, the basic education of kids is equal to whichever schools they attended to and the knowledge given by the school is equal compared to any other schools.  Many people who gained education from urban schools attempt to insult poor people who gained education from rural schools, insulting the knowledge is not an acceptable judgement. Poor people also like to gain education from comprehensive schools in towns if they are admitted by the administration. There is no justice in this type of classification. If anyone investigates the background of tertiary students, it could be revealed that the bulk of students are from rural schools, but many policymakers are not ready to accept this point and they want promoting urban schools.  

It is a divisive attitude that had been purposely fabricated and spread by Christian churches with dishonest motives. The quality of education is divided by the name of the school that has been expanded by vicious people. This was the reason to keep school name using the names of saints and attempt at education is better than other schools.  It was to keep people supportive of imperialists and to spread Christianity in Sri Lanka using education as a strategic way. Neither St. Augustine nor Thomas Aquinas advised such a dismemberment and an abusive education policy, the Christian decrepitude attitudes should be removed from the minds of kids to make an equal society by directing them to progressive and productive education. Therefore, attitude problems of people have become the major constraint for economic development is essential. The gaining the participation of rural communities in development projects reflects the justice of education quality and for recognition. A positive contribution from rural people to development tasks will be a vital area and the way the country needs approaching throughout of current economic and social problems.  

Policymakers and planners require developing economic programs to attract the support and participation of rural people who represent an enormous volume and a higher rate of the population. Rural people are the spirit of the country as they had been contributed a higher share to the economy since the beginning of humans in the country, however, the contribution of rural people has not been valued by the government authority since the independence because of the attitude problems of the government administrators. The contribution of rural people has undermined many instances and highlighted the small contribution of urban people as valuable to the country.

Rural people, to make a higher contribution to the economy, need the positive motivation of them and value the knowledge and skills they have acknowledging the contribution to the economy. The government authority in Sri Lanka seems to be silent on the contributions of rural people and sometimes rejects the contribution of rural people when they associate with development programs. This type of negative attitude does not appear in many other countries, where the obvious nature is appreciating the contribution without separating participants as rural educated and urban educated in development projects. When kings and Queens managed the country in history, the labour for development was not divided as rural and urban.  

When I was working in Sri Lanka, I observed this situation as a significant constraint to development, policymakers did not consider removing this negative aspect in the past, and they are willing continuing to negative attitudes to the future. It seems the problem is continuing, irrespective of the political party in power, the problem is continuing negative attitudes in society, and the modern nature of the problem is using rural poor women sending the Middle East to make dollars and use such earned exchange for urban wealthy people and politicians to spend for selfish purposes.

Rural people have a strong association with the agricultural sector that is needed a higher participative contribution, which means about 40% of the contribution of the Gross National Product should be from agriculture that generates higher productivity. The historical information further confirms that since the era of early humans, the best nature of the rural population was hardworking in various tasks given to them with achieving goals and to see the outcomes of the plans. This aspect of the contribution of the rural community has revealed from the writing of foreign visitors, and the policymakers who gained education and training from so-called high schools in urban areas have been jealous towards rural educated people and attempt to dis-motivate rural community by various ways such as coverup and other type of negative responses.    

When implementing policy plans aimed at balanced growth, the focus and objectives of policy plans should be stressed on gaining the support of rural people. They can contribute a lofty share of the production and give justice to the entire community without discrimination. The capitalist class was a major constraint for rapid development since the Kandyan Kingdom of history and aristocrats used rural labour, exploiting them for the construction of large houses called noble houses (Walaus) that display the patriciate picture now in Sri Lanka.

The major negative picture of the aristocrats themselves was disunity and jealousy for each other and some historians expressed that the major reason to under the country the western imperial power was the disunity of aristocrats and the king. Houses of aristocratic nobles clearly showed how they lived as well as their attitude towards society. Another significant point ignored was all these large houses were built using the labour of rural poor people without making a reasonable payment for them and nobody gave appreciation to the rural poor.  

Policymakers of Sri Lanka, after the political independence in 1948, were lack of understanding the social fabric which has been developed in the past and were not interested in contributory value when they were setting objectives of the plans. They wanted to let down rural people. Before the European invasion, society could not see such a negative behaviour in the society because ancient kings and queens were against the division of society and understood the value of the contribution of rural people. The lack of support from the rural community could be considered as a cardinal reason for the economic backwardness and betraying the rural community. Caste dictions were brought into society to discredit rural people in villages for exploitation of rural people.

However, in many Asian countries, policy planners are concerned with the rural community that contributes a positive support to the economy. In the Japanese environment since the Tokugawa period, rural participation was vital and Meiji restoration gained the contribution of the rural community. If it investigates the economic history of other Asian countries such as China, Korea and India, this point could be proven. Attitudes of Sri Lankan have not comparatively deviated from the practical experience of other Asian countries, but aristocrats in Si Lanka purposely created divisive practices.

The consequences of Christian education in Sri Lanka, which was supposed to be based on the philosophy of Jesus Christ, had a negative conduct and dis-motivated attitudes, letting down rural people insulting Christianity. Christian churches supported rural people who contributed to churches through assets and building. Rural people were poor and had difficulty contributing to the church. This was a reason to disregard rural people for development activities, but the outcome of Christian leaders in development work was attempting to deviate persons educated in Christian schools from cooperative work. Education administrators in Christian schools are preferred to train kids to deviate from rural communities. Why this type of negative choice when the country needs unity and cooperative development? I feel it is a secret strategy of Christian education in Sri Lanka. The Christian education policies were against the teaching of Jesus Christ, and when the then government nationalise the schools which were gaining government support for developing a national education policy, the policymakers of Christian education encouraged to agitate violently against the government policy. It is seen that Christian schools in Sri Lanka do not admit poor Christians to their schools and charges, adding to the government support, such as payments for teachers and other capital tasks.  

Many development plans from the four-year development program introduced by then prime minister, Sir John Kotelawala in 1954, and other programs such as the ten-year plan, six-year plan, five-year plan and four-year plan, have been implemented in Sri Lanka without attracting the support of rural people and such programs were not monitored and activated remedial management process by the planners who educated in so-called big schools in urban areas. When critically evaluating such plans, they seemed like desk plans, like writing the thesis for higher degree programs, and they were designed by bureaucrats, developing a mental picture to mislead ruling governments. There was a famous story that certain bureaucrats misled Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, showing water-filled a small land area expressing the success of the rural cultivation program begun by the 1965 government.    

The four-year development program in 1954 aimed at the successful engagement of rural people in regional areas, giving new meaning to the privatization concept appropriate to Sri Lanka. The investment direction given by the plan was the right way to go forward, but political misbeliefs were directed to go imprudent way and rural people were misguided to follow an unknown philosophy and collective march using rural people for political advantages.

Political independence in 1948 was gained without letting the blood of radical political supporters. The traditional literature books explain the strategic policy of kings and queens to gain the support of rural people. For example, The Sthupavamsa detailed how the king, Dutugamunu, used the countenance of modern management theories to defeat invaders and increase the productivity of the agriculture sector.    

However, the policy attitude of Sri Lanka has been radically changed to give priority to the metro-centred population despite the views of SWRD Bandaranaike, the political independence because the education in independent Sri Lanka attempted to neglect rural people promoting misguided attitudes among the urban population who gained educated from Christian schools. It aligned to give a message that English medium education for metro people and Sinhala and Tamil medium education for rural kids. When Buddhist base education attempted to provide facilities for the participation of rural people without a religious difference, urban-based Christian education providers attempted to push English-based education to rich people while insulting the teaching of Jesus Christ.  Christianity is based on the concern of the poor. Jesus Christ explained how it is difficult for a rich person to enter heaven.

Although Sri Lanka needed a participative democratic style in development projects without contrast between rural areas and metro people, development activities purposely were distanced the attracting the participation of rural people. The major reason was key figures in rural planning were from educated figures in based on non-Christian schools in many districts in Lanka.  They attempted to reject poor rural people and forced rural people out of development activities since the 1960s. Anti-Christian attitude was considered as a fundamental mistake of Christian education. Despite the attempt of the government officers to disregard rural people, the SLFP government in the early 1960s decided to taking over schools which were receiving government funds. The Christian education policy was a significant barrier to get participation of rural Non-Christians in the balance growth.

The outcomes of government investments should distribute among all citizens of the country and such a balance growth policy is needed to be implemented by all governments that were ruled the country after the political independence in 1948. After the independence, the development policies of Sri Lanka have changed, aiming at the balance growth concept, and it was in the first place in the Asian region.

However, during the colonial administration and independent control after the 1948, investment distributed in urban areas and during the colonial administration a considerable volume of investment distributed in upcountry regions. The direct results of investment distribution limiting to certain area, prevented rural people gaining education, health, highways, electricity, and water facilities which were distributed to investment zones. 

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