The schools will fully reopen on Monday. The trade unions, parents and children will certainly consider this a special day for education in Sri Lanka. It’s best not to think too much about the last two days, with very low presence of children and teachers in most of the smallest schools in the country.
What is facing the country today is the need for proper education—not about principals, teachers and students, but the education of those who are chosen by the people to lead and guide this nation.
There were opponents of the teachers’ unions who were pleased to warn both teachers and principals of having rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown at them, and even them being staked on a crowbar, in keeping with Sinhala culture. The Minister of Education, Dinesh Gunawardena may have been thinking of the Boralugoda tradition of his late father, when he was strongly opposed to the teacher/principal strikers. But the Boralugoda traditions, which we remember most, did fade away with the white national dress and ministerial portfolios in different governments.
There is a huge need for political education, not of students in schools or universities, but the people who are elected to serve the people. These are people who make huge promises of service to the people, but after election, make massive displays of total ignorance of what it means to be of service to the people and country.
President Gotabaya himself admitted to the shortcomings of his governance, as well as that of his government and MPs, at the 72nd anniversary of the Sri Lanka Army. But even such limited honesty is certainly not seen in the Cabinet and State Ministers as well as the backbench MPs of this government.
We saw the huge idiocy and ignorance when this government allowed the rice dealers to determine the prices of the staple. Those in government are either clueless or wholly uninterested in the lives of the people. They certainly don’t care about the hardships the people face in buying the essentials for living – the costs, lack of stocks, and the long waits in km long queues.
The latest display of ignorance is about fertiliser. The people are now told by the government, the agriculture-related ministers, and officials, too, of the value of the newly imported liquid fertiliser from India. They have obviously forgotten the President’s call for a ban on chemical fertiliser and demand for organic fertiliser. Ministers and MPs are making big noises about this “Nitro fertiliser” being an organic masterpiece. Has anyone of them even read the publicity about this, or what is said on the packs in which it is marketed?
What they show is a level of ignorance that is fast being established as the stuff and substance of this government. Those who were so foolishly cheerful of supporting Gotabaya thinking on the urgent need for organic fertiliser, are now even more stupidly cheerful of so-called organic, but really chemical “Nitro” stuff.
Does any of these political shouters – with parliamentary seats, huge allowances and all other facilities and costs provided by the people – know anything of how much just 4 percent of nitrogen, would be of any use to rice cultivation? What do they know about why the peasant cultivators are taking to the streets and towns, when rice is under a huge threat in the Maha Season that has just begun?
From the time this government was elected – from President Gotabaya and the new parliament – what we have seen is a continued display of ignorance in governance and honesty in service to the public. We have seen a huge ignorance of medical realities in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, with Cabinet Ministers and MPs turning down on vaccinations against it. There was even bigger ignorance when Ministers and other seniors in government took to the throwing of magically chanted clay pots into rivers, and promoting the use of a carpenter-Kali Amma vedarala syrup, making thousands line the streets to get it.
The subsequent months of true, partial, real or unreal lockdowns, have certainly shown us the rising levels of ignorance that prevails in the governance of Sri Lanka.
We are still having travel between provinces banned (but largely ignored) and an official drop in the Covid infections and deaths. Can our level of ignorance in governance prevent another sweeping rise in infections? Are we ready to learn from the UK and Russia, both facing new pandemic crises, or are we only ignorantly keen on having more tourists from such locations?
The Saubhagye Dekma is obviously certainly empowered by the Rise of Ignorance. The teacher/principal strike may be over, but the Strike of Ignorance remains. We have moved to the heights of political idiocy. With Maha Season in paddy cultivation just beginning, will we see a Maha Vipakaya – A Great Disaster – in the cultivation of the people’s meals, and a Maha Badaginna or Huge Hunger on the rise?