FUTA is Right on the 6%
The Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) has two main demands. One is higher salary for university teachers. The other is that government spending on education and related fields such as research should be raised to at least 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If the government agrees to the second demand it is not too difficult to accommodate the first. FUTA has a very compelling case for both demands.
Sri Lanka does not have oil or other high-valued natural resources to sell to the rest of the world. Our main resource that creates economic wealth is its working people. For example, our migrant workers alone remitted to the country almost $5,000 million in 2011, that is about five times as much as the loans that China gave Sri Lanka or private foreign investors brought in for long term investment. Many of the migrant workers who had earned that money are unskilled or semi-skilled workers. Imagine how much more productive they would be if they were to get a better education, remain at home, and do productive work in Sri Lanka. These numbers suggest that the nation's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend largely on how well we educate our younger generation.
In 2010 Government spending on education was only 2.1% of GDP. FUTA is right to point out that this is well below the international norm. The 2.1% is less than the South Asia average of 2.5%. The figure for India was 3.9%, Pakistan 2.4%, Bangladesh 2.2 and Nepal 4.7%. The average for Lower-Middle Income countries (Gross National Income per capita between $1.006 and $3,976 to which Sri Lanka belongs with a GNI per capita of $2,240) globally was 4.0%. Outside South Asia also countries that meaningfully can be compared with Sri Lanka do much better than us. For example, in 2010 the Malaysian government spent 5.8% of GDP on education and the Philippines 5.1%.
Growing Sri Lanka-China Economic Relations
Sri Lanka and China have been close friends in international diplomacy starting from 1949 when Mao Zedong came to power in that country and Sri Lanka had got independence from 150 years of British rule. Sri Lanka and China signed a rubber-rice pact in 1952 under a UNP administration. In 1957 the two countries established diplomatic relations. The friendship between the two countries grew closer under Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike (1960-65 and 1970-77).
During J R Jayewardene's pro-western administration Sri Lanka-China relations were somewhat cooler but by no means hostile. In the past twenty years the relationship has further strengthened. When Mrs. Bandaranaike was prime minister the relationship was mostly diplomatic and political. If indicators such as trade and aid are used to measure the strength of the relationship of the two countries, under the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency, Sri Lanka-China relations can be said to have reached new heights.
සුරතල් රත්නවල්ලීගෙ සිිනිඳු තොල් දිහා
හෙළුවා අසළ ධනපතියකුගෙ මල් පහා
මුහුදේ ඈත ගැඹුරේ ඇතිදු ගල් ගුහා
වෙරළට ඇදෙයි සමහරවිටදි තල් මහා
අද වටපිටාව කවියකින් පටන් ගත්තේ මේ සාහිත්යය මාසය නිසා සාහිත්ය ගැන යමක් කීමට නොවේ. සමාජයේ පවත්නා වෙනත් දෙයක් ගැන කීමටය.
මේ කවියෙන් කියැවෙන්නේ ඈත ගැඹුරු මුහුදේ ඕනෑ තරම් ලස්සන ගල් ගුහා තිබුණත් තල් මහා ඉඳහිට වෙරළටද ඇදී එන බවය. සියලූ සැප සම්පත් ඇති රූමත් ළදුන් තම නිවසේ ඇතත් මේ ධනවත් මිනිසාට අසල් වැසි කුල හීන දුප්පත් ළදකගෙන් රසවිඳීමටද ඇතැම් විට සිත්දෙයි. (ධනපතියකුගෙ මල් පහ කීවේ අනංගයාගේ හී සර විදින මල් පහටය. මෙයින් ගම්ය වන්නේ රාගී හැගීමක් පහළවීම ගැනය.) මෙය අමුතු දෙයක් නොවේ. සාමාන්ය මිනිස් සිත ක්රියාකරන ආකාරයයි. මිනිසා හැම විටම කුණු රසට කැමතිය. කොතරම් රස මසවුලෙන් යුත් ආහාර පාන ඇතත් උම්බලකඩ කෑල්ලක් හැපීමටත් ජාඩි හොඳි ටිකක් කටේ ගා ගැනීමටත් ස්වභාවයෙන්ම මිනිසා තුළ කැමැත්තක් ඇත.