Educational psychologists emphasize that strategies such as the deployment of military personnel as school teachers and the implementation of various military tribute programs in schools, and then the proposal to make military training compulsory for young people over the age of 18, are aimed at developing a child as well as a youth with a military mentality.
As a solution to the shortage of teachers in several difficult schools in Vavuniya, the Air Force had planned to deploy Air Force officers to the relevant schools to fill the gap. When inquired about this in Parliament, the Minister of Education G.L. Peiris said that he was not aware of such a thing. However, the teachers’ unions pointed out that such a plan was being implemented, despite the Minister’s claims.
The plan has been suspended due to strong opposition from teachers’ unions and educators. Also, in some schools where retired Army officers serve as principals, the implementation of programs to pay homage to the Army during various ceremonies has been notable in the recent past. Past Pupils’ Associations in some schools have been organizing annual marches with the participation of school children.
Military training for those over 18
Meanwhile, as the most recent addition to this process, the Minister of State for Public Security, Sarath Weerasekara has stated that he will submit a proposal to make military training compulsory for all youth over 18 years of age.
“We must provide military training to young people over the age of 18. So, I will present that proposal to the Parliament. It is not for any other reason, but only for the betterment of the country. No one needs to be afraid of military training. Because military training is the only way a man can stand up straight.
That’s only when an individual will be able to talk straight looking in the eyes. Personality improves. The qualities of leadership come from the army. It is also about respecting the law, being disciplined, and taking responsibility. These are the things that training does. “
From a professional army to a war-hero mentality!
When we inquired about this process, Charles Dayananda, a leading scholar in Sri Lanka on educational psychology, commented,
“The ‘war-heroes’ mentality was formed with the end of the war. Prior to that, a professional army was maintained for security and other matters in our country. Their consecration emerged with the military defeat of the LTTE. It was a deliberate move by the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa government. This war was created and this concept was maintained even after the war for the narrow purposes of politicians.
“As soon as a war is over, peace must be established in the country, without preserving a war mentality in the minds of the people anymore. Even the word war should be erased from the minds of children in particular. At the global level, educational psychologists emphasize that special projects need to be activated to instill love and human compassion in the minds of children, especially after a war.”
A war with India?
“Why try to intensify the military mentality through tactics such as military training instead of reconciliation? We will not have to face a war with America or India or China. Such military training is often made mandatory in countries where there are wars with the neighbouring countries or a civil war is raging. If there is no such situation in Sri Lanka, why try to maintain this military mentality?
“Attempts have even been made to use the image of a soldier holding a gun as the official logo of the T-shirts during marches at some schools. But they were altered because of social opposition. What does such attempts carve into the minds of school children, 18-year-olds coming out of school? The war mentality. Cruelty. It gives them a twisted message to hate another race, another race within one country.”
Knowledge of the decision makers!
“Some argue that such training is essential for discipline. It is sad to say that this is the extent of their knowledge. What we need is to create a change in attitudes of the people. It is to take the country forward through it. To build the Sri Lankan nation. Otherwise a country cannot be developed. It is possible to achieve temporary physical development, but it never produces an advanced man.
“It is a crime to instill a war mentality in the minds of children at a time when it is time to step towards development. A gun is wielded to harm someone. For thirty years, people in this country died in the name of war. It is common to both the North and the South. Intervening to nurture that murderous mentality is a reversal of the country’s progress.”
“No matter how much we talk, peace has not yet been established in this country. There are still plenty of doubts. Racists and religious extremists are feeding those suspicions. Politicians are giving those contracts too. It is up to the children to take the country forward against this. The 18-year-olds coming out of school. This racism and war mentality has been digested in the minds of the elders.
The children are not so spoiled yet. So they have to keep the concept of one nation in their head. We must give the impression that conflicts between us must be resolved peacefully and intelligently. The primary place where it can be taught in school.”
An example from Syria
“It is the school that decides where to direct the child. The best example of this is from Syria. ISIS militants have been working to change the curriculum of school children. They have included in the children’s curriculum that everyone except the Islamic extremist communities of the world, should be killed. Or that they should embrace their religion.
“They had started spreading this idea through schools. The most serious issue that has yet to be resolved after the liberation of the Syrian capital, Pyongyang, is the removal of the germs that had inflicted the minds of those children. The United Nations has said that despite the large amount of money that can be spent on physical development, the mental development of these children remains critical.”
Adults remaining silent is a blessing
“Parents, especially the older generation, need to be more aware of this. After the war mentality is forcibly injected, the child, the young man begins to live on it. The majority of the country today continues to stimulate the child through the media as well as through various films. Then there is no point in accusing him or her of being a child who does not love his parents and is involved in various crimes in the society.
“That is because parents and adults are silent, even though they are aware that this crime is happening. Because the teachers are silent. Because the scholars of the country maintain silence.”