Higher Education for Future Sri Lanka
by Mahesh Hapugoda
Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka
Higher Education for Future Sri Lanka: Suggestions for Improvement Mahesh Hapugoda Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka Lot of questions in higher education is left unanswered in the post-independent Sri Lanka. The misalignment between economic models under experiment and the end product of education has historically caused unimaginable devastations. The sparks of those destructions still gleam across generations and ethnicities. After decades of negligence, rhetoric, trial and failures, again we have come to another milestone of history where there is hope for revision, reconciliation and recovery. What role does education have to play in this juncture? What is the role of academic scholars and policy makers? How far scholarly research and findings will help Sri Lanka to improve the present status quo and prepare its people for the process of transformation to a digitalized global era?
Sri Lankan society, like any other post-colonial nation, is made of complex internal contradictions. At a macro level changing agrarian economy, civil uprisings, party politics, unemployment, crisis in education, infra-structure development and corruption have gradually made Sri Lanka lives miserable over the last sixty years. Ethno-cultural contradictions, human interactions, tradition and interpretations, religion, impact of social media and digitalized realities, changing nature of human relationships and disintegration of traditional family function at a micro level to drive us to an entity of uncertainty. Both aspects are part of the social transformation that demands inevitable change. In a situation like this what is necessitated is transformative education. Since we are in a process of serious socio-cultural transformation from tradition to modern, the nature of education should facilitate the individuals to cope with the ‘fundamental shift in people’s beliefs and values’ (Miao 2000:3) while also producing a vision for the future. Theoretically speaking, in these conditions people desire for three major knowledge interests; they are, technical interest in controlling and manipulating the environment, a practical interest in understanding human behavior and social norms, and an emancipatory interest in developing people’s self-awareness (Habermas 1971). The responsibility of the scholars in creating a learning environment and subject content for such transformative education still is not fully realized by those who are actually responsible for higher education reforms. In this context, there must always be a national coordination between incentives for higher scholarly research and the policy designing for the future.
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