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Buddhism and education in contemporary Sri Lanka

Prof. Oliver Abeynayake

Convocation Address by Prof. Oliver Abeynayake on Buddhism and Education in Contemporary Sri Lanka held at the BMICH on Dec. 31, 2007.

The origin of all problems in contemporary Sri Lanka is due to the disorganized system of education. Some of the problems to be recalled here are unemployment, poverty, violence, underdevelopment and ethnic disharmony. Even though sixty years have elapsed from our independence, these problems have taken an alarming position day by day without any hope for a solution in the near future. The reason for this is the patching up of each problem in isolation instead of delving into the root cause of all ills.

I believe that there is no way to solve the problems that Sri Lanka faces today, except by introducing an enormous change to the education system. Therefore, the time has come to introduce a new vision to the teaching and learning process. Any further postponement of it is a gross disregard of the duty that history has imposed on us at this juncture.

Education is a well developed and complex process. It has become a universal trend spreading beyond the societal and national divisions. Our duty is to identify this process properly and apply it to suit our country. The whole world is coming under a common curriculum of studies and a system of examinations.

The problems of this county cannot be solved by going against this world trend. Our duty is to conform to the education system that has emerged worldwide. We still follow the education system that the colonial rulers introduced to Sri Lanka. It is doubtful whether a structural or qualitative change has taken place in our country. Instead of following the endeavours that the United Kingdom implements to put the education on the correct track on the basis of the experience of the developed countries, we still continue with the old system with minimal change.

It is accepted by many that our educational system, carried out without any innovation in the curriculum, system of examinations and evaluation, has become a burden on this country.

I would like to mention here two nation states. One of them is South Korea and the other is Singapore. It is to be recalled that these two countries are located in Asia like Sri Lanka and their religious and cultural environment was very much akin to that of Sri Lanka. It is also accepted by many that these two countries were not as developed as Sri Lanka when we regained our independence in the middle of the last century.

However, both south Korea and Singapore have overtaken Sri Lanka to become two powerful and well developed nation States in the modern world. The dream of most of the under developed countries now is to become either like South Korea or Singapore. Both South Korea and Singapore reached the present position due to their educational reforms.

The Korean leaders of the era of renaissance introduced a massive educational process with the understanding that it was the sole method of developing the country. It is known as the Korean System of Education. The result thereof, was the instant forward march of the country. When Leel Kuan Yew was once questioned as to how he transformed Singapore as a topmost state of scientific and technological development, he answered that he achieved it by appropriate organisation and management of education in the country.

Sri Lanka can be transformed into a developed country devoid of all ills only by massive educational reform as in South Korea and Singapore. It should be an urgent and accelerated programme. It should also be a combination between modern knowledge as well as experience and traditional values. In this regard, Buddhism can be of immense help. I would like to devote this convocation address to highlight a segment of the contribution of Buddhism to streamline our educational system.

Buddhism as well as the modern world emphasises that education is a collective effort. It is not a concern of a particular group of individuals or an institution. Unfortunately, the belief in the developing countries like Sri Lanka is that the State should take the sole responsibility of education.

As Buddhism teaches us, education builds up only when the parents, teachers, clergy and the State suitably carry out the duties assigned to each of them. Buddhism earmarks a special task to be adopted by all four parties collectively. It is solely the instilling of discipline into the relevant social stratum as parents into children, teachers into pupils, clergy into laity and the State into society.

I would like to say a few words about an important phenomenon that exists in education in Sri Lanka. It is competition that prevails in all spheres of education. The students in Sri Lanka compete with one another in three public examinations. They are the Grade Five Scholarship Examination, General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) and General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level). The sole or most important task of the parents is to prepare their children for these examinations.

The children too have devoted their entire childhood to face these examinations. There is no life either for the parents or for the children except this. The children who go to school early in the morning come back home late in the evening only after spending their time in the tuition classes. The parents of these children who have become victims of this vicious circle not only think but also declare that their children would become disciplined citizens, after learning at the suitable age.

To be continued

දුරුතු අමාවක 

 පෝය පෙබරවාරි 06 වනදා බදාදා පූර්ව භාග 09.27 ට ලබයි.
7 වනදා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දා පූර්වභාග 09.14 දක්වා පෝය පවතී.
සිල් සමාදන්වීම පෙබරවාරි 06 වනදා බදාදාය.

මීළඟ පෝය
පෙබරවාරි 14 වනදා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දාය

පොහෝ දින දර්ශනය

New Moonඅමාවක

පෙබරවාරි 06

First Quarterපුර අටවක

පෙබරවාරි 14

Full Moonපසෙලාස්වක

පෙබරවාර 20

Second Quarterඅව අටවක

පෙබරවාර 29

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