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

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Friday, January 1, 2010

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.”
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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.

8 comments:

jan said...

SL has had qualified people running the country. We have had no intellectuals with a vission running the country in the recent past.

Frank said...

Dr Johnpulle, we all know the education qualifications of politicians. Although it is essential there is no need to harp on it.

I wish Sri Lanka will have a qualified president, qualified from a reputed educational instituion not just A/L or O/L.

USA's president is a lawyer.

Daya said...

Mahinda R. got into Law College in some strange way -special provisions were made.

The Most Qualified candidate by far - Dr Wickremabahu Karunaratne

Vaniasingham said...

The article is interesting. Politics is not only for the intellectuals and educated people. Politics should touch base with the common man. Some are saying Obama is a lawyer, yes he is from Harvard. So is Iranian President who has a PhD in Chemistry. So is Indian Prime Minister who has a PhD in Economics. The education it self does not make a politician. If you read the qualifications of some of the Members of Parliament in the US one cannot stop laughing on the issue of Academic Qualifications. India is even better with over 500 of their legislature are convicts????
However, the writer is trying to fan the idea only this privileged few should rule the country. We know most of us could not complete academic work due to different circumstances. It is not due to a defect of intellect of these people. When you read people like Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton, they developed their brilliance only at latter stage of their life. We know how misfits the universities have produced in the ultimate academic achievements. Some of them had miserable family life and eccentric behaviour more than the averages of normal population base.
We know the current constitution was drafted by people like JRJ, Gamini, Lalith and RW if you want to say that they were educated people. You also know the craftiness of JRJ to obtain undated resignation letters from MPs to keep them line on his command. The very people who created the constitution and governed the country for 17 long years now keep on talking about abolishing the very child they created when the power is not in their hands. Do you attribute this behaviour to education?
The UNP strategy with JVP to grab power through back door is interesting too. What does UNP and JVP has in common except to overthrow the present government? Some one had commented to say the rule books were changed to Rajapaksa to enter law school?? Rajapaksa during his younger days was an ordinary citizen not belonging to the elite ruling class. It was Ranil who got the rules bent to enter the Colombo Law Faculty through his infamous father Esmond Wickramasinghe of Lake House fame. The Professor at Law faculty during his tenor was none other than G.L. Pieris who could not refuse entry of Ranil though he had a poor score. Ranil’s class mates at Royal knew from the early days what an influential life he had even as a child but with a poor academic record.
Academic qualification nothing to do with running a good administration. When we see some of the brilliant companies in the world are not run by intellectual persons. Some of them in Sri Lanka who are holding the mantle of their businesses are just ordinary Joes. What matters for a good politician is to be living a simple life within the ordinary people, ability to withstand corrupt influences, and empathy on its citizen to deliver the best within the available resources. Such person is privy to seek the best advice available in different disciplines. But these intellectual should stop dabbling in politics with their screwed up mind set. Mr Thomas may be writing this article to discredit the current government.

dutugamunu said...

This is absolutely right. As far as I concern, most of our political leaders lack formal education (never mind well educated). This is a very serious issue. I noticed in many occasions how badly our politicians answer to the questions posed by foreign media. Most of our political leaders don’t know or pay no attention to how other nations engage in issues such as human rights and war crime issues. This is a very big problem because when foreign media, especially BBC (terrorist sympathizers) blame us for our poor human rights and war crimes, our political leaders have no guts to ask them how they conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do our political leaders know anything about how so called peace keepers of the world (I mean UK, USA, Canada, and some western countries) treat Iraqi and Afghan prisoners? Do our politicians know that CIA, FBI, and other law enforcement officials even broke the Geneva Convention? Do our political leaders know that most of the western nations want countries like ours to have problems so that they can thrive? Do our political leaders know that in countries like Canada and UK LTTE supporters’ vote can make a big difference? I can go on and on, but I hope I made my point.

dutugamunu said...

This is absolutely right. As far as I concern, most of our political leaders lack formal education (never mind well educated). This is a very serious issue. I noticed in many occasions how badly our politicians answer to the questions posed by foreign media. Most of our political leaders don’t know or pay no attention to how other nations engage in issues such as human rights and war crime issues. This is a very big problem because when foreign media, especially BBC (terrorist sympathizers) blame us for our poor human rights and war crimes, our political leaders have no guts to ask them how they conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do our political leaders know anything about how so called peace keepers of the world (I mean UK, USA, Canada, and some western countries) treat Iraqi and Afghan prisoners? Do our politicians know that CIA, FBI, and other law enforcement officials even broke the Geneva Convention? Do our political leaders know that most of the western nations want countries like ours to have problems so that they can thrive? Do our political leaders know that in countries like Canada and UK LTTE supporters’ vote can make a big difference? I can go on and on, but I hope I made my point.

Frank said...

We don't need the most qualified person to the president. But we certainly need a qualified person to be the president.

I don't think SF has any tertiary qualification. MR has. He has also practiced as a lawyer. It is true. Not anyone can do that.

iemerald said...

my dear thomas. america and britain had so called well educated political leaders at the time. look at the total mess they created and the consequences that we are all facing now. not all educated people make good leaders.
i am sure hitler mussolini amin to name a few were well educatec even to tyertiary levels.