Sri Lanka President expresses dissatisfaction with country’s current education system

Ranil Wickremesinghe - President of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe. (REUTERS / Adnan Abidi)

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for a fresh analysis of the life and character of King Sitawaka Rajasingha, a courageous and patriotic king of historical significance.

He stated this while speaking at the “Sitawaka – Sisu Arunalu” program held at Rajasinghe Central College Hanwella yesterday morning (September 25), to distribute school equipment and uniforms to 12,000 schoolchildren, which was made possible through the support of the Chinese government.

The President emphasized that King Rajasinghe has been overshadowed by history due to a reference in Chulavansa made two centuries after his reign. President Wickremesinghe urged a reconsideration of the historical approach that has favoured victorious figures while neglecting those who faced defeat.

Symbolizing the distribution of school equipment and uniforms, the President presented school equipment to several students during the event. It is worth mentioning that this assistance is a direct outcome of the Prime Minister’s visit to China. Hanwella, Avissawella, situated in the Western Province, boasts an advanced education system. The Prime Minister is making a substantial commitment towards its further development.

Highlighting the significance of preserving historical and cultural heritage, President Wickremesinghe revealed that he has instructed the Department of Archaeology to explore the archaeological treasures of Sitawaka Kingdom. This effort aims to shed light on the historical significance of the region and pave the way for the construction of a museum dedicated to Sitawaka’s history.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized the need for the country’s children to receive both modern education and knowledge about Sri Lanka’s rich cultural history. He expressed his commitment to ensuring that Sri Lankan youth are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to shape the nation’s future.

Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe called for a re-evaluation of the character and history of King Sitawaka Rajasingha, suggesting that the narrative surrounding those who lost battles in history should be reconsidered. In an effort to encourage knowledge-sharing, President Wickremesinghe invited local school students to submit facts about the Kingdom of Sitawaka and King Sitawaka Rajasingha. He pledged to reward the school that submits the most compelling information.

Despite recent economic challenges, President Wickremesinghe assured that the government remains committed to allocating more resources for free education and healthcare. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the current education system and his determination to transform Sri Lanka into a vocational training centre while providing children with an education system that empowers them for the future.

Regarding the General Certificate of Education (GCE) at both Ordinary and Advanced Levels, there is a coexistence of the public school education system and private tuition services. This situation entails significant parental investment in education. The government is actively seeking input from educators and students to develop a new education system that addresses these aspects.

Additionally, efforts are underway to create an environment conducive to providing professional education to children. The government aims to transform Sri Lanka into a hub for vocational training through the reorganization of vocational education programs. This initiative aims to equip citizens with the necessary professional knowledge for the nation’s future development, following models adopted by countries like Australia.

During the event, a poem was recited in honour of King Rajasingha, highlighting his historic significance. King Rajasingha’s actions are recognized for preventing Sri Lanka from facing a fate similar to Mozambique or Angola and for being the only South Asian king to successfully defeat the Portuguese.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed the importance of preserving the historical legacy of the kingdom of Sitawaka, emphasizing its role in safeguarding Sri Lanka’s independence. To ensure this heritage is passed down to future generations, he announced plans to establish a museum in the Sitawaka area.

Furthermore, the President instructed Chief of Defence Staff Mr. Shavendra Silva to oversee the construction of memorials at key historical battle sites, such as Mulleriyawa and Danthurei. These efforts aim to commemorate the bravery and sacrifices of those who contributed to Sri Lanka’s history.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized the need to revisit the legacy of King Sitawaka Rajasingha, a courageous and patriotic leader who has been overlooked by history. He pointed out that historical accounts, like Chulavansa, have often favoured winners over losers, neglecting those who lost battles. As a result, he called for a re-evaluation of King Sitawaka Rajasingha’s character and contributions.

In addition, President Wickremesinghe instructed the Department of Archaeology to commence work on preserving the archaeological significance of the Sitawaka region, which is expected to undergo rapid urbanization in the coming years. This proactive approach aims to safeguard the historical heritage of Sitawaka from potential loss, similar to what occurred in the city of Kotte.

President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of understanding the past while building the future. To encourage this, he invited students from Sitawaka schools to submit essays detailing the history of the kingdom of Sitawaka. A prize will be awarded to the school with the most outstanding submission, promoting a deeper appreciation of Sri Lanka’s historical heritage among the youth.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena underscored the significance of education as a vital investment in the country’s future. He emphasized the government’s unwavering commitment to the educational sector and acknowledged the importance of providing essential school equipment, generously provided by the Chinese government, to students.

The Prime Minister also paid tribute to the historical role of Rajasinghe Central College Hanwella as the first Central College in the Kelani Valley, which has educated numerous students who have gone on to contribute significantly to the nation’s development. He emphasized the collective efforts of various governments that have made substantial contributions to the growth and advancement of Rajasinghe Central College, Hanwella.

Mr. Qi Zhenhong, the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka also highlighted the strong and friendly partnership between China and Sri Lanka, characterized by mutual respect and trust. He emphasized the collaborative nature of the relationship, where both nations consistently support and assist each other.

Acknowledging the temporary difficulties faced by the Sri Lankan people, Ambassador Qi expressed confidence that, under the leadership of President Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Mr. Dinesh Gunawardena, the country would overcome these challenges and pave the way for a brighter future.

Ambassador Qi reiterated China’s commitment to supporting Sri Lanka in achieving sustainable development and addressing prevailing economic issues.

The event was attended by Justice Minister Dr. Wijayadasa Rajapaksa, Public Security Minister Tiran Alas, Members of Parliament Jagath Kumara and Yadamini Gunawardena, Western Province Governor Marshal of the Air Force Roshan Gunathilake, Jagath Surasena Principal, Rajasinghe Central College as well as teachers, parents, students and other dignitaries.

(President’s Media)