It was a morning in Royal College, Colombo and I had the privilege of witnessing one of Mr. Upali Gunasekara’s speeches. It was the day when the school was admitting the Grade one students – so the parents and family members gathered in the Nawarangahala with the new batch of Royalists.
He was talking about how lucky they are to be here and the tremendous sacrifices made by his staff to maintain this school and to provide the best services for everyone in it. My cousins are really lucky for that opportunity after all Free Education is a gift which comes with endless rewards. I was thinking about the current status of our state universities and I realized how ungrateful a vast majority of the population is towards it. Countless numbers of protests on reasons such as ‘not being granted a job after the degree’ or ‘not being provided enough facilities’ etc. and not to mention the fact that going to a local university is a waste of time. What we fail to understand is a child who enters a government school from Grade one and goes up to A/Ls and gets selected to a university, then finds a career in the field he desires is not burdened with tuition fees, examination fees, expenses for maintaining the buildings, expenses involved in paying the staff and so on.
Even the food in the canteen is cheaper than outside places. If you analyze the cost that a private university takes, or a private school takes you wouldn’t have the funds to even go near it. The child owes a huge debt to the country and to its people, his school and his parents for everything that they have done to ensure a bright future for him. You can’t blame the university for not giving you a job because that’s not the purpose of a university. It’s made to give you a decent education – to empower you knowledge and to build your character. It gives you the tools you need to build a better life.
And so far the youth haven’t made the best out of it as far as the protests are concerned. Towards the end of his speech, Mr. Upali asks the audience (the children), “How many of you like to become doctors, engineers, lawyers, artists?” and I saw hundreds of tiny hands being raised. Then he asks,”How many of you want to become teachers and principals?” – Then the audience was silent and not a single hand was raised. He smiled and said, “I was expecting this answer from you because I know none of you want to undertake this job. My teachers make a lot of sacrifices everyday in their lives for the small salary the school provides. But they do it for the love of this school and for the love they have for its children. So dear parents, please help me and my teachers in our work”. If you can substitute the words ‘Principal’ and ‘teachers’ with the terminology you refer to the same type of people in campus, then you’ll realize the tremendous amount of work they give in – for a small salary.