Winning Essay: “What I would do if I were President of Sri Lanka…”
The Sunday Leader together with the Sampath Bank recently held an island-wide essay competition. Hundreds of children competed in all three languages. On October 31, a prize ceremony was held to honour the lucky winners. The winning entry in the English language section, by Ruchini Abayakoon of Girl’s High School, Kandy is below.
“Look” my little sister pointed out the bus shutter. We all turned to look at what she was showing. What we saw was a whole group of army soldiers building a house with smiles playing on all of their lips. It was quite evident that they were enjoying their work; it wasn’t like what they used to do. They weren’t risking their lives any longer for the country. They were rebuilding the country that they freed from the war.
The image in front of me woke, a whole thread of thoughts. Today, our country is free from a war that prevailed and tortured us for thirty long years. With that, the only obstacle we have for development is removed. This is because Sri Lanka is relatively free of many pressing issues faced by other countries in the world. We don’t have to have programmes to remove snow. We don’t have to have programmes to protect ourselves against earthquakes. No heat waves come to kill the people in this country. We will not go hungry as we have trees that bear fruit throughout the year. So all we need is a systematic approach for development.
With these thoughts, I started to imagine myself as the president of Sri Lanka. What steps would “I” take to build up my nation?
In addition to tropical climate and hazard free atmosphere, we also have a great culture.
The first step towards development comes through our rich cultural heritage. Before embarking on our material development, it is very important to develop people from within. This is easily achievable by simply adhering to our time tested value system. Our religion, art, music, drama that have been with us for so long needs to be protected.
In addition, what we have lost since European invasions in 1505 should be restored. A good cultural foundation will definitely help all the other developmental efforts.
My thoughts then diverted to having a look at agriculture. We have had an agricultural economy for a very long time. It is said that in ancient times, we exported our produce to other countries. So what prevents us from producing our own food? Specially if we blend the latest scientific methods with our traditional approach to agriculture? We can also use the modern technologies to have a good system of post harvest production and value addition.
Value addition is important not only in agriculture, but also in other areas as well. We are still a nation that exports some of our medicinal plants and get tablets and syrups back to the country. Why should we send raw rubber out to foreign countries and get erasers and tyres for unaffordable prices? Fortunately, today we can see some Sri Lankan industrialists thinking in this direction. As the President, I will give all encouragement to such entrepreneurs.
In order to develop a useful and contributing human being, an all- around education is essential. Sons of our kings were sent to schools of “Disapamok” teachers who performed this task. As the President, I would take a leaf out of this, and develop a system of education where whole life skills are taught to our children.
Isn’t it through school education that he/she learns the basics of practically everything? In schools, they should make the child’s “attitude” first. If the child has the correct attitude, idea about life, he won’t contribute to corruption.
Another fact that schools should be able to educate children with, is ethics. Ethics means the moral principles that control or influence a person’s behaviour. As long as schools can provide the children with the correct attitude and ethics, I believe it would be easier to proceed with the rest of the educational aspects.
Moving onto the studying (learning) matters, in our country, learning is based on the study of text books. Yet, in developed countries, learning is very much gained through experience. Might that have helped their progress?
As the old saying goes, “Tell me – I will forget, show me – I will remember, let me do it – I will understand.” If the students get to experience, see, touch what they read in their texts, it will reach their brains more effectively, which will make them remember better than just studying the text given. This way, they won’t feel like learning is stressful. They will enjoy it and not think of it as a burden. If the education received at schools are effective enough, tuition classes won’t be needed, thus saving both money and time.
I remember reading in a newspaper that in Japan, they give the students small projects like making diodes. Then, they pay them according to how many they’ve made and the quality of them.
This way, they learn, experience and understand that you earn through your own hard work.
The teachers teach the children how to paint, how to build woodcraft, sew and many other things. When the children are done learning, they make their own creations and sell their hard work, earning every cent they receive. Such projects teach them so much more than just reading and memorising a test for the exams.
Moving onto higher education, students enter the university on different fields. To get into the university, they all work very hard because it is such a small percentage from those who sit for A/L’s that get selected to universities in Sri Lanka. Yet, the number of job opportunities a graduate gets varies according to each faculty.
Engineers are essential to the world. But so are journalists, musicians, accountants and even toilet cleaners. If any of them slack on their work, it effects the entire country.
The salary that a labourer receives today is simply not enough to raise his family. Though we can’t afford to pay a labourer and a doctor the same salary, does there have to be such a big gap between the wages that they get? Isn’s a labourer also very important to the country? If I were the president, I would try my very best to give equal importance to all the jobs.
“Private Universities” is a topic that has been brought into discussions and which has been argued over quite so many times in the past few years. Most students in government universities are against private universities. But why?
Sri Lanka cannot afford to take in more than a very small number to the government universities. Those who fail to get in, do all sorts of courses to get qualifications and others get employed. An educated society is one of the things that we really need to develop our country. Does it matter where they get education from as long as they are educated? If the parents are willing to pay, if the children are willing to learn, then why object? The students who enter private universities are mostly from wealthy families. If they cannot have the facility of being educated in a private university in Sri Lanka, they will go abroad. If we have private university in Sri Lanka, the money will be paid to our country and not another. While this is a financially good factor, it also increases the number of educated people in the country.
My stream of thoughts were cut short by the jerk of the bus. Our journey had come to on end. I held my sisters hand tight in mine and stepped out of the imaginative world, where I am the president.