Sri Lanka needs knowledgeable citizens | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka needs knowledgeable citizens

Children in the pursuit of knowledge and information
Children in the pursuit of knowledge and information

Informed and knowledgeable are two terms that complement each other, but do not mean the same in several ways. One can be a well informed person yet lack knowledge in his own conscience. A person may learn about everything new and get updated about everything in the world yet lack a viewpoint. An informed person may not be justifiable or understanding. The reason for creating a well informed child with knowledge is not only one of the most important decisions made by the new government but also an important factor for the country.

Knowledge is the information along with one’s own analysis and his or her own perspective. An informative person must be made to use or reproduce that information at the appropriate time. When a person is capable of sharing the information he has gathered at the right time and place for utilisation, he or she becomes a knowledgeable person.

President Rajapaksa’s vision emphasises this futuristic foresight. The country needs well informed and knowledgeable citizens to be on par with the modern world and position the country at the next level. The manifesto clearly states that the Government’s vision is to prepare a child from pre-school to reach higher education in a systematic and pragmatic process.

The Government’s policy of making knowledge centered education eliminating the existing examination centered education is hailed by society. Also the priority given to produce globally recognised ‘smart technocrats’ with internationally acclaimed qualifications is a distinct message to the youth.

The factual situation and the ground reality today is that even the graduates, who are not in the category of medicine, engineering or other specialised segments, lack knowledge to make a significant contribution to the economy. Private sector employers often reject them due to their inadequate compatibility to the market requirement.

Added to that is the understandable disapproval of the private sector employers towards the agitation created by a small segment of undergraduates by way of demonstrations throughout the year on various issues. Therefore, instead, the private sector usually prefers city based candidates who are more exposed, even if they do not posses high qualifications.

At present, the education system is operating consistent with the antediluvian, examination based education system. In order to circumvent the continuation of the gap, the Government should take the steps discussed in the manifesto immediately before this disparity widens.

At present, the subject knowledge the student derives from the curriculum does not suit the market demand of employment; thus making them trivial to the economy in general. The average student who concludes formal education after O/L, A/L or as a graduate is unable to attract a suitable employer due to the lack of applicable knowledge.

Irrespective of race, caste or religion, the safety, health and happiness of the child are non-negotiable elements of child care and education. Hence, expanding children’s opportunities to engage themselves with teachers, peers and the world around them are necessary strategies for promoting physical, emotional and cognitive development. To put these strategies to action, the relevant government authorities must support the education workforce.

It is a consolation to note that the new government’s policy lays emphasis on providing a quality workforce from pre-school to higher education. The manifesto has laid down their action plans covering the entire education system in Chapter 4 of the document, Vistas of Prosperity.

Regardless of the quality of formal education that children receive in schools and universities, there are other important criteria to create a knowledgeable citizen. Reading is a key factor among these criteria. In our education system, reading is simply a subject in the early primary syllabus.

However, I believe reading is currently done only to improve the speech capability of the young student. This practice should be changed to teach the student at this early age to understand and enjoy the story in the book rather than merely reading the tutorial. If a child can be guided to read at an early age, it is a fact that they will become knowledge hungry later.

When a child gets used to reading and learns to admire and appreciate the contents, he or she would attempt to venture into different areas to gain more knowledge. Children who read stories initially, would impulsively gather knowledge later by engaging the media, the internet and networking. Eventually, they become more intelligent and more informed. We have seen such intelligent, informed and knowledgeable children participating in various quiz and informative television programs. By demonstrating knowledge, they not only inspire children but also adults.

However, regrettably this is a tiny segment of the student population in Sri Lanka. The country is hungry for such youngsters and is in need of a well planned process and a proper system with a strong and genuinely committed leadership.

As Uma Shnkar Joshi, the great Indian Poet and scholar says, “Knowledge is like the sky - limitless. It depends on whether you want to learn how to acquire wings and fly or get on a plane and soar. The faster you rise to pick up knowledge, the quicker your success”. Children are the future of a nation. Informed and knowledgeable adults created through childhood improvement would create happy and prosperous citizens in the country..

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