Attitudinal change vital for country | Sunday Observer

Attitudinal change vital for country

4 October, 2020
Children are forced to become either doctors or engineers although everyone cannot do so in reality
Children are forced to become either doctors or engineers although everyone cannot do so in reality

Sri Lanka, which is also known as the ‘pearl of Indian ocean’, is an important landmass due to two main reasons. The first thing is the natural beauty of the country. Within a short distance, there is a significant difference in the climatic conditions and in turn the biodiversity.

Sri Lanka can be considered a green hotspot which has a variety of plants and animals; most of them are native to the country. Thus, the country is popular among foreigners as a tourist destination. On the other hand, as the second factor, historical background of the country gives an attraction. There are many remnants and also scientifically proven facts to confirm the history of the country.

According to Prof Raj Somadeva, the modern human (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) has stepped into the country over 100,000 years ago. We can see evidence related to the Balangodaman (Homo sapiensbalangodensis) at least 30,000 years ago. There are many other findings and stories about the ancient people of the country and their performance.

‘Ravana’ who is the demon king of Lanka is portrayed to be a different king and a human. Although, the life story of Ravana is inspiring, there are different beliefs, ideas and opinions about this story. However, a major change in the culture of Sri Lanka is believed to have occurred after the arrival of Arahat Mahinda Thera (Mahindagamanaya) around 2300 years ago during the time of King Devanampiyathissa. Because of this immigration, Sri Lanka is renowned today as the cradle of Theravada Buddhism.

Arahat Mahinda Thera’s arrival created cultural, social, lifestyle and attitudinal changes of the people. These changes largely remain unchanged despite intermittent foreign invasions. For example, recorded history states that Sri Lanka was invaded several times by South Indians and impacts of such invasions are yet obvious both physically and culturally.

Arab traders arrived in the country since the 7th century. The most significant changes occurred during the colonisation of Europeans: Portuguese in 1505, Dutch in 1656 and British in 1796. Especially, the British effected social, religious, language and political changes and in turn made changes in attitudes of the people and their living styles.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created changes in the attitudes of the people. This is proven by the frequent reporting by the media, including social media with regard to behaviour of the people. On many occasions, people behaved irresponsibly. It is noteworthy to remind here a traditional proverb about behaviour of the people that “being example is greater than giving or receiving advice”.

Unfortunately, during the past months, the same announcement had to be made repeatedly due to poor mind-set and disciplines of some people; that represents their attitudes. Everyone wanted to adhere to the advice and guidelines given by the medical authorities; however, some people did not show their respect and responsibility. Therefore, the coronavirus taught a lesson and gave us a critical message that some investments are essential, as a country, for improving attitudes of the people,in particular the future generation, for betterment of the country.

Successful person

The future of a country depends on its younger generation and therefore, future of the younger generation should be secured and well planned. A certain change to the educational system of the country is essential for developing a successful person for the nation. Our experience during past 35 years or more is that the education system of the country has attempted basically to create a knowledge-based person. There is no argument that knowledge is essential, but having only knowledge is not sufficient for being a loyal and successful person.

The other important qualities that a successful person should have also need to be considered to obtain a better service. The authorities have to pay attention in this regard and take decisions accordingly. With past experience what we can see is our younger generation is forced to gather knowledge under competitive environment. This process has affected to lose some qualities of the students and thus to create robotic mindsets.

Especially, the tuition culture of the country focuses on knowledge accumulation. The education system forces students to go to tuition classes if they want to win the competitive examinations. The tragedy behind all this will be that the system makes our younger generation less sensitive to the human desires and qualities, animals, plants and other components of nature.

It is not a fault of the youngsters, but the targets that they have been given and the background that they have been created for doing so is worthy to consider here.

Given this change, the responsibility has to be equally borne by the whole community and the Governors.

Children are forced to become either doctors or engineers although everyone cannot do so in reality. It seems that there is no other path for succeeding which is not the truth. Those who can face the competition and also get the background support can face this situation successfully and achieve the target. The others would be either frustrated or suffocated.

During my stay for studies in Europe, I met a student who was studying at grade 8. I questioned him about his future ambition and the boy responded, “I want to be an Environmental Scientist”. How simple and comfortable this answer is. Under our conditions too, there are so many students who have ambitions and expectations different to what their parents’. However, they are reluctant to express them given the pressure put on them by the parents. Mostly we find that future of the children is decided by their parents without considering their own wishes and willingness.

Action should be taken to change these attitudes of the parents too. Overall, what we should think is provision of knowledge is not sufficient for creating a successful person, but there are some other aspects that should also be considered. Different personalities may have different ideas and thoughts on this matter and also, they may have been discussed before at different scales.

However, to enrich the quality of the education system and also to have a better outcome at the end of the day, the students should be provided with four essential components of personal development: knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.

In the modern education system, priority is given for improving attitudes of the young generation while knowledge provision, skills development and values enhancement are also considered simultaneously.

Therefore, this application should be inculcated in our education system as well aligning with a future developmental plan of the country meeting national policies. It is clear that a considerable investment is needed for achieving this task. In countries, such as Japan, a priority is given for developing attitudes of the youngsters. They have shown that by changing attitudes they could stand up on feet in Hiroshima and Nagasakivery successfully, after bomb shedding.

One important thing is that the policymakers need to pay attention here seriously to have a significant change on attitude development of the children. The best place for doing this is the kindergarten without waiting to come to the later stages of their life. If we can do so and then extend it to the schools and university level, we will be able to get a significant out put with a well-intentioned young generation. If the process is started from today, at least after another 15 years, we could see the results which will make us amazed and hopeful.

The intention of this write-up is not to complain and condemn that nobody has paid attention to this and worked but to stress that a considerable streamlining and practical implication have not yet been done up to a satisfactory level. In the process of attitude development, the children should be taught about the unique practices and culture of the country, appreciation of local assets and values, improvement of human qualities, respecting each other, loving nature and understanding its value, responsibility of improving one’s own career to contribute to the development of the country, equity of all professions and understanding the plausibility that each profession can contribute to the development of the country. By doing this, an opportunity can be created for children to understand the way that they have to spend their life meaningfully. This can be more practicable if applied to the present education methods being promoted.

Education methodology

Earlier, education was given based on the teacher-centred learning method and even at present, in most education institutes, this method is practised. But, the modern education methods focus more on the student-centric learning given the fact that the students get greater opportunities to self-develop over the former method.

In countries, such as Finland, the school education too has been adopted into this system. The focus is given to improve the skills and knowledge of the students while making activities and other co-curricular engagements for them to improve attitudes. More importantly, the student-centric teaching and learning methods can help develop team spirit, minimise competition, respect each other, develop relationship between human and environment, improve decision making ability, mould creative persons and improve logical thinking and analytical skills of students.

When such a method is practised, the need of supplementary teaching, such as tuition classes will be minimised. Then, the students will get enough time for engaging in sports and other leisure activities, and also to experience nature and spirituality. Understanding the importance of spiritual engagement in relation to attitude development is important. For example, short term Ordinations are somewhat unique to Thai Buddhism, and it is practised basically for improving attitudes and personality of the young people, prior to marriage.

It is clear that the competition in education has resulted from limited opportunities for university entrance. In general, around 12% of G.C.E. (A/L) qualified students get a chance to enter the state universities. There is a discussion to recruit 40,000-50,000 students to the state universities.

If it works, more opportunities will be available for the students. But, the real challenge is the facilities and capacities available in the universities. As per the recent experience related to coronavirus, there is a possibility that certain programs and certain parts of some programs can be delivered virtually (online). If so, it can be used as a strategy for expanding the capacity of university entrance of the country.

It is understood that attitude development should not be limited only for education, but it should also go parallel with the development of the country. The new generation should be inculcated with the thoughts, ideas and feelings that they can engage in their jobs to contribute to the development of the country. If these attitudes are not seeded in the minds of children, they will not feel their responsibility to the country. This change is seen in some other countries. For example, the people of Thailand are working for one goal which they want to be the ‘’Kitchen of the World’’. They want to enhance the status of their economy through exportation of agricultural food products. All state, non-state and other organisations of the country are working together for this need.

Under this purview, the agriculture sector has been more intensified and the purpose is to export their agricultural products with an added value to catch a high market price. It has been successful and in many of the developed countries, Thai agricultural products can be found. In the late 1960s, Americans were trying to cross the space and land to the moon; all the people of the USA had a big thought that they work for sending people to the moon. These examples provide sufficient evidence that the community of a country can be driven for a common goal, having developed their attitudes.

There is a saying in Japan that if somebody wants to be creative and productive, he needs to get his thoughts out of the body through his hands. Thus, working for a target with positive attitudes will result in an outcome which could be used for national development. It is our duty to have national policies and thereafter, the younger generation should be trained and developed for achieving goals of such policies. Therefore, those who govern the country have a great responsibility here in terms of attitudes development to take the country in the right direction focusing on economic development.

Genuine contribution

It is important to mention about mindset of the people and the politicians and political background of the country. The younger generation should be educated and enriched with positive attitudes so that they can work independently without sticking to a political agenda of a person or a party. They should be able to raise their voices for the need of the country.

The main objective of attitude development of the younger generation should be to produce those who could work without being narrow minded. If a person is poor in attitudes, his societal status, educational or family background will not be important. Rather, he will do what he feels as correct which will in fact be false or not accepted by the majority. The way he responds and behaves will be reflected by his attitudes.

The people with poor attitudes have no sense in terms of their benefits to the country. Once the attitudes are developed, the disciplines of the people will improve automatically.

It was proven during the coronavirus pandemic, that we really need people with disciplines for moving the country forward. The way other than developing attitudes for this challenge is not clear.

The writer is the Dean, Faculty of Animal Science and Export Agriculture, Uva Wellassa University