Is education on the priority list for Sri Lanka now?

With no food on the table, few hours of electricity per day, curfews and social media bans, lack of medicine and other necessities while money continues to lose value, what exactly is the future of education in Sri Lanka in this moment?

Sri Lanka popped up on everyone’s social media when it became known that the country didn’t have enough money to import paper and ink for millions of its students.

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Years of government mismanagement and corruption, compounded by poor policy making, an unforeseen terrorist attack, and the pandemic have led to this tragedy in which the poorest are predicted to soon face starvation. People struggle to obtain the basic elements necessary to survive. There is an endless list of issues to address right now and the number of those affected is increasing. The country will take time to recover but, as in any conflict, the most vulnerable and significant sector of the population, its young citizens, are the most affected.

The simple reality is that when basic human needs like hunger, sleep and medicine become hard to come by, anger rises in every member of a community and suddenly sending children to school becomes the Last on the priority list.

Although Sri Lanka has one of the highest literacy rates in all of South Asia, circumstances have led to education being one of the most affected sectors in the country at the moment. University students are in the streets protesting.

Amid the crisis, the government has cut funding for school meals, leaving millions of schoolchildren hungry. With almost half of the population living in poverty before this situation, they needed school meals to meet their daily nutritional needs. As a result, millions are predicted to stop going to school or even drop out now. The vast majority of the 28,000 Sri Lankan students abroad struggle even to pay for their education due to lack of funds from their parents in Sri Lanka.

The mentality of the general population to try to go to education abroad and stop attending school at home is increasing, as in any conflict. Thousands of schools closed on May 6 as workers went on strike demanding the government resign.

Academics are being criticized for not coming forward, because they have a greater obligation in politics as their decisions influence others and are being accused of intellectual dishonesty, for turning a blind eye to past events. that brought them here.

Principals who wanted to call students and teachers back into the classroom to reap the “real” benefits of education have also seen their tunnel vision of education challenged. This narrow perspective of learning within the four walls of a “school”, while a grim reality that endangers human lives, has been severely undervalued. This perspective itself has been blamed for causing this catastrophe that exists today, producing so-called professionals who fit into the draconian concepts of the current world order that seek the gain of the few over the many.

The demonstrations will surely become more intense as there are many realities at the moment after the resignation of the previous Prime Minister. The importance of the contribution of youth in the construction of a new iron framework for a change in national politics and in the political sphere of the country is evident. Normalcy is not expected to return anytime soon with the country in a war-like condition. And therefore, the ordinary flow of education is far from being a priority in the current socioeconomic condition of the country.

A virtuoso procrastinator by day and a discursive perfectionist by night, Eahsan isn’t sure if his experiences generated his personality or the other way around. Send help to eahsanabedin@gmail.com

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