|Abolition of English a major cause of our problems BoI
by Brian Tissera
He was addressing a group of 44 academies from the Institute of Development Policy and Management of Manchester University who were visiting the BOI and Free Trade Zones on a study tour.
Although Sri Lanka boasts of a literary rate of nearly 93 per cent of its population, the decision to abolish English as a medium of instruction by the government of the time in the 1960s has resulted in that generation being precluded from exposure to developments the world over. We have for most part become inward looking and are unable to accept the realities of international trade or the creation of employment opportunities by foreign investors.
This has resulted in some large foreign funded projects being vigorously objected to and even physically threatened by the villagers in areas where they are located. A case in point is the fertilizer project in the North Central Province of the country.
Yet another cause of the unpleasant happenings at our universities which has resulted in the deaths and permanent disability to a few students is the jealousy shown towards students who are proficient in the English language. They are picked out for acts of so-called freshers ragging which border on the extremes of perversion. This issue has to be added as a matter of national priority if university violence is to be dealt with effectively, Mahendran added.
Even though our level of unemployment at present is around 10 per cent the number of the underemployed is very much more. If the situation is analysed it is seen that English is the great divide between the chances to obtain employment or remains unemployed or under employed, he said.
In addition to English being re-introduced, it is also necessary that the university syllabuses must undergo a drastic change to ensure that the graduates who pass out are employable. At present there is a total mismatch of the output of universities and the requirements of industry and commerce.
The private sector finds it more profitable to invest in training school leavers rather than recruit graduates who are not suitable for absorption in the management as trainees in the short term in most instances.
With the peace process gaining momentum and a large input of foreign investment expected both in the spheres of infrastructure development as well as export based industries, the need for suitable people will increase many-fold and we must be prepared for the opportunities which are now closer at hand than ever before, he concluded.
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