I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with the participation of industry representatives and faculty academic staff with the aim of updating the curriculum of the Faculty of Agriculture, Mapalana, University of Ruhuna. The day-long workshop was attended by delegates representing various stakeholders in the field.
The workshop provided valuable suggestions from all quarters and explored the extent to which existing university education contributes to the development of the country. It was demonstrated that the academic methods of world universities were well studied by the faculty academic staff and that positive trends are well identified in them.
It is possible that such workshops are being conducted with the objective of modernizing the curriculum within the entire university system of Sri Lanka. But can it be seen that this university education is effectively directed towards the development of the country ?
Politicians do not participate in the modernization of these university curriculam.
Under such circumstances, can politicians be accused for not effectively influencing
development of university education system in the country ?
Whether the authority on this curriculum update to be discussed in the workshop would be decided by other parties. It was also not clear during the workshop whether the conclusions drawn from the workshop discourse would change due to the influence of the seniority of the academic staff. However, it is a matter of debate whether the entire university system in Sri Lanka will produce real professionals who will make a proper contribution for the development of the country.
Curriculum developers should be held accountable if the university building professionals are not truly competent in a situation where politicians have no direct influence on the introduction or modernization of university curriculam. An outdated curriculum will not be upgraded tomorrow, if it does not allow seniors to expand their authority in the tug-of-war of senior university professors and non-senior university professors who are not up to date globally.
Only then will it be important for the intervention of an intelligent politician who can level the authority of those outdated people and make real assessments. But there is a discourse in the society that the majority of politicians in our country are not like that. However, the attitude of the university student should be developed to create jobs but not to seek jobs. Has the focus been on modernizing the curriculum to create a mechanism to change the perception that it is the responsibility of the government to provide employment after graduation ?
The methodology that develops the above attitudes in university education does not seem to be included in the curriculum in the context of the massive campaigns for employments. The job requirement of the graduate graduating from the university should be freed from the illusion expected of the public sector. It is a matter of debate whether the public sector will provide a job suitable for the rigorous theoretical education obtained at the university as it is now.
I can't say for sure about other fields, but the theoretical education I received at the university, where I graduated with a degree in engineering, is innumerable being used in the public sector. As an engineering student we acquire so much theoretical knowledge that we do not even remember the names of many of those subjects today.
In the public sector, where the vast theoretical knowledge gained at the university is not utilized in the slightest, even if it is more than 20 years after graduation, we are just engineering idiots, let alone the occasional private consultation we provide. Even that private consultation has to be done secretly. The reason for this is that if a consultancy service is to be legal, it must obtain the approval by the relevant authorities in the public service.
There is no doubt that man becomes proficient through constant experience. In our country, business is prohibited for public service professionals and the consulting service is restricted by various obligations. The experience gained from overwork is thus limited and indirectly impedes the competence of the public service professional. But I have heard that in many developed countries, engaging in other businesses is an additional qualification for public service.
Due to the strict job security created in the public service in our country, the public service is becoming more and more popular. Performance is not a measure of actual competence and a public servant is fortunate to be paid on the due date, regardless of performance in the public service. But it must be understood that the situation is not a blessing for the country. Strengthening the public sector to increase employment in that sector is a political rhetoric, but not a reality.
It is very important for a developing country like ours to compare the situation in developed countries and replace them. The majority of people in our country are accustomed to treating employment in the private sector as a temporary appointment until they get a job in the public service. Isn't that the reality of our country being a poor country .....?
The university curriculum should include brainwashing to eradicate the myth that one should get a job in the public service. It is not impossible. Many lecturers at the Mapalana Faculty of Agriculture were of the opinion that it was difficult to change the attitudes of students. But if someone like Saharan could change the attitudes of young people who can be accepted as educated for the sake of extreme illusion, would they not be able to develop the attitudes of university students towards science ?
It is easy to create entrepreneurs in the field of agriculture, especially in the field of engineering, as it can produce value added products with less investment than in the field of engineering. When we talk about agriculture in our country, we are reminded of a traditional farmer who used a hoe with a betel nut in his mouth and his upper body exposed. But agriculture cannot be developed without it as the modern youth loves to pursue jobs with posh qualities.
Therefore, we must develop the agriculture of our country towards Smart Agriculture. At the workshop, the Faculty of Agriculture presented a wonderful presentation that distinguishes between the traditional farmer of our country and the entrepreneur engaged in agriculture in developed countries. An agricultural entrepreneur who dressed neatly in developed countries is smart and attractive. They are even more interesting than the white colour jobs with the beautiful features that the youth of our country dream of.
The most important thing here is to create a business attitude in the students in the university education and to develop the curriculum to create job makers instead of job seekers. Attitude development should be given priority. Today, all university education is based on job seekers but not for job creators.