The Role of Youth in Sri Lanka
The one question that I have always wanted to address is, what really is the role of Sri Lankan youth? Depending on our social positions, the ideas instilled in us differ. As some of us know, if you are a member of the Colombo society, generally the trend is to receive a good education, complete our SATs and go abroad to finish our studies and start a life and job in another country. This is a type of norm since parents don’t want to see their children suffer with the rising taxes, loss of job opportunities, and the current war still raging in our beloved country.
In most rural areas however, children receive education only till they are 16 years of age maximum. This is because of several reasons, the main reason being poverty. Since most jobs available in the rural areas such as craftsmanship, farming and fishing enterprises, do not pay well, nearly all families are forced to live below the poverty line. This in turn causes children to drop out of school at an early age, regardless that primary and secondary education is sometimes provided, to help with the financing of the family.
I see the position of our youth like a cycle. It’s true that there are many upheavals, but collectively, we follow the footsteps of those before us. That’s why i asked the question what the role of Sri Lankan youth is? In other words, what do we contribute to our country? We all know that our country is in debt, and not only are we accountable, but so are the generations to come. We also know that there are still people who lost everything in the tsunami, still living in tents. The war in the east which no longer seems to be an ethnic conflict, is still active killing thousands of soldiers and children on either side. There are still people displaced from their homes due to this conflict. Children are lacking education, which might help them live a better life. Many people, including graduates are unable to find job opportunities. And democracy in our country is sometimes non-existent.
All of these problems are very real, and very current. And it is important as youth, and as members of the next generation to look after ourselves, look after others, and most of all, take notice when such problems arise. We should know when to follow in our the footsteps of our predecessors, and when to make our own path. In my personal view, the role of Sri Lankan youth is to do our best, individually and collectively, everything in our power and resources to make our country a place we all would be proud to live in. This attitude is important, because it could make all the difference. After all, we are the next generation.
– Manisha Hannan
Manisha is a Core Group Member of Beyond Borders and many other things. Her pastimes include teaching and appearing in theatre productions.