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Lanka needs an educated national leader like all other South Asian countries

“Sri Lanka will end up as the laughing stock of the world not to have an educated national leader in line with all other South Asian nations.”

By Thomas Johnpulle

(January 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) South Asia houses more than 32% of the world population and is making vast economic strides. The region was known to be poverty stricken, chaotic and lacking economic and political direction. However, amidst all the adversities South Asia is making progress today. If the economic growth rates pattern of the past decade continues, in less than a decade, India will be among the top ten economies of the world. Not to be outdone, the other countries too are trying their best to overcome their backwardness and progress as much as they can. Sri Lanka must not be the exception.

Unfortunately during election time a strange hysteria takes over a section of the society. Discounting everything unfavourable to own political group and invariably asserting own blind political followings are not the right things to do. These theories suggest that experience is unimportant and education is not at all important. In these theories what is important is the ability to promise anything and everything. Truth cannot be further away from these assertions. In reality it is critically important for Sri Lanka to have an educated national leader at the helm.

It should not be confused with exceptional cases where supposedly educated persons are indulging in anti social activities. Also the other extreme must also be avoided. Although the world has produced some exceptional political leaders with little educational qualifications, they still are the exception in the twenty first century.

Examples from other South Asian countries and Sri Lanka

In summary the following national leaders rule South Asian countries today.

India - Dr Manmohan Singh. He is a graduate in economics and holds a master’s degree too. The University of Alberta presented him with an Honorary Doctor of Laws. His educational qualifications are relevant to the role he plays as the national leader of India.

Pakistan - Yousaf Raza Gilani. He has obtained his BA and MA in Journalism from the University of Punjab.

Bangladesh - Sheikh Hasina Wazed. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Dhaka.

Nepal - Madhav Kumar Nepal. He graduated in Commerce from Tribhuvan University. His education has kept him in good stead in his difficult task especially in the political and economic transition of Nepal that took centre stage a few years ago.

Maldives - Mohamed Nasheed. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Maritime Studies at Liverpool's John Moores University. His studies are quite relevant to the multiple roles he play.

Bhutan - Jigme Yoser Thinley. He was the first student from Bhutan to select to Penn State University. He completed his degree work, and earned his Master's of Public Administration (1976) from the College of the Liberal Arts.

Sri Lanka - Mahinda Rajapaksa. He studied law at the Sri Lanka Law College and took oaths as an attorney-at-law. He continued his law practice since 1977 until 1994 and from 2001 to 2004.

It is also important to note that most of them were successful in doing a very relevant job to the political office they hold today. This means they are accomplished professionals, not mere graduates.

Importance of tertiary education

Importance of tertiary education cannot be underestimated when it comes to national decision making. Although a ruler may have hundreds of advisers, ultimately it is his/her decision. It is often the case that there is no consensus between various advisors on the same matter. To complicate matters further, various schools of thought exist on most important matters. To assign the right importance and priority to these differing theories and usher the country forward needs own educational qualifications and professionalism.

Engaging in a profession requiring tertiary qualifications develops abilities including high level team work, containing impulsive behaviour and long term thinking. Those who lack tertiary education, especially in a subject area that complements governance, lack a vast resource that is essential for governance.

No amount of election promises with no certainty of implementation, can replace the skills and abilities gained through formal tertiary education and professional disposition.

Sri Lanka will end up as the laughing stock of the world not to have an educated national leader in line with all other South Asian nations.

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