- A Key Defence against Nation’s Challenges The World today is rapidly becoming a place of fierce competition involving economic, political, cultural, racial, religious and many other spheres more due to human activities than natural events. The situation is aggravated by increasing in numbers and expectations of the population coupled with dwindling resources. These hostile [...]


A Disciplined Education System


Professor Ranjana W. Seneviratne

- A Key Defence against Nation’s Challenges

The World today is rapidly becoming a place of fierce competition involving economic, political, cultural, racial, religious and many other spheres more due to human activities than natural events.

The situation is aggravated by increasing in numbers and expectations of the population coupled with dwindling resources. These hostile developments make lives of the citizens and survival of nations precarious. Small developing countries with significant deficiencies in system of governance, citizen quality and economy such as Sri Lanka are likely to be among the firsts to fall, becoming failed states.

Governing systems in Sri Lanka have clearly identified that citizen quality is a product of education. This has become more relevant since the dawn of the 21st century dubbed “century of information”. Intended sound economy with a plus balance is a consequence of all the above. The link between economy and quality of life of citizens as well as the sovereignty of a nation is obvious to anyone with common sense.

On the day of Independence, the former Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike stated, “today we are receiving political freedom. But it will become a reality only when we receive economic freedom”. The truth of this statement is much evident today. Many Sri Lankans fail to comprehend the golden rule in economics – “there is nothing called free lunch”. Somebody must pay for it. To be able to pay, a sizable number of citizens must be smart, intelligent, industrious, disciplined and moral. The last includes taking the responsibilities of citizenship seriously.

What is the main danger for a small nation with the majority of its citizens not possessing adequate and relevant education, and are also non-productive and non-progressive while being driven by sub-national sentiments? In the ensuing global competition, they will be among the firsts to perish. The mode of the  is arguable.

The author’s personal opinion is that the end will come through neoliberalism. This socio-economic ‘survival of the fittest’ doctrine is rapidly becoming the key concept governing global politics. This situation arose due to abuse of more humane Keynesian welfare-capitalism by individuals and groups such as trade unions or civil activists acting on self-interest and utopian ideals. Already neoliberalism is hijacked by multinational corporations that have joined with selected groups of politicians, public servants, militaries and NGOs and recognised individuals who are in their payroll.  This “military industrial complex” uses military and soft weapons such as  economic sanctions, cyber-attacks and law.

Their end game will divide populations into smart, hardworking, disciplined and society minded “haves” who will enclose themselves and their good life styles in protected areas. The rest or ”have nots”, not possessing the above qualities will degenerate into a society of disorder, disease and death. This trend is already apparent in gated communities and green bubbles in some countries including Sri Lanka. It will be a sad ending for civilization.

If the status quo  continues our crash will not be long-coming. How can we avoid this dark path leading to a tragic end?  Answers lay in disciplined and relevant education, economic development and nation building, all leading to equity among citizens. Disciplined education systems exist at secondary and tertiary levels in many developed countries. Cadet schools in India and Virginia military institute in USA are examples. In Sri Lanka this is spearheaded by KDU model (KDUM) at the tertiary level, a timely move in the right direction.

What makes KDUM special compared to the traditional UGC model? KDU has minimum interruptions to its academic programmes and date of entry and passing-out are almost timed. Process of selection looks at the candidate as a ‘whole’ than his or her mere academic performance. Special efforts are made to assess attitudes, the third pillar in education following knowledge and skills and a one totally ignored in the traditional university selection process.

This trend is continued throughout the programmes with the aid of a comprehensive curriculum, soft skill modules, sports and physical fitness modules etc.  The range of soft skills include creative thinking, critical thinking, communication skills and collaboration skills (C4s). Special emphasis is paid on installing leadership skills as well as followership skills along with flexibility, productivity and social skills. Civic mindedness, mutual respect and patriotism are other qualities ingrained during KDU education.

Above features appear in many curriculums, but KDU ensure that end-product is equipped with them. They are also capable of effecting mid-career changes if and when necessary. Operation of a mandatary teaching-learning process emphasising academic accountability distribute responsibility of education equally between students and teachers. End result is the high employment rate of KDU graduates and a group of citizens armed with capability and intension to do well in society.

Every model has drawbacks. However, KDU regularly review their processes and make prompt changes to correct them. These are exploited by two types of personnel. Those who criticize the disciplined education system from a ‘rational’ base include political groups, opportunists and ‘black operatives’ who are in the payroll of local and foreign anti-Sri Lankan elements. Humane, smart, educated, disciplined and patriotic citizen is the scourge of those who are bent on mischief against a state. Certain people who have strong views on individual freedom are against any type of discipline forgetting that it is collective discipline which allowed people to exist together that gave birth to civilizations. They can be and need to be considered ‘irrational’. Both types combined against disciplined education system much aided by irresponsible and ‘agenda’ oriented media promoting fringe issues and ‘junk ideas’. One of the most threatening ‘junk idea’ for public interest and taxpayers money is “process is as more important than the end product”. “it is not the function of university education to cater to job markets” is another. “Individual rights are more important than the survival of the state” is poisonous.

Co-existence of different education systems fosters healthy competitions than decadent monopolies.

These give the public the freedom of choice in education.  In the past, many education institutions have operated in pairs such as Takshila-Nalanda, Harward-Yale and Oxford-Cambridge. At school level, Eaton-Harrow, Royal-St. Thomas’s and Ananda-Nalanda   are among noted examples.

The establishment of the UGC brought Sri Lankan Universities under one mold. Standardization and many other good objectives were attained at the expense of variation and independence to some degree.

High unemployment rate of traditional university graduates as well as their dependent mentality and parochial outlooks does not speak well for the system. These ultimately affect freedom of public to select what is good for their education and also restrict leaders and institutions from playing “mix and match” in pursuing objectives.

Sri Lanka must survive and develop.  To do so in the ‘century of information’ the drive needs to be spearheaded by educated, skilled and patriotic youth.  It is my sincere belief that ‘reason will prevail’ and KDU model will join traditional state, vocational and private university systems in order to fill the remaining critical gap in the sphere of Sri Lankan education.

Professor Ranjana
W. Seneviratne


Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.