A noble vision of Hon. C.W.W. Kannangara, independent Sri Lanka’s first minister of education, resulted in the initiation of a free education system in this country. He is aptly known as the “father of free education”. Through this system, all students in state schools are entitled to receive 13 years of free primary and secondary education and there after tertiary education in and in such similar institutions.
Despite this massive benefit, every year thousands of children drop out of schools and the number keeps increasing. The question one would ask is why they do not use this privilege and complete their education. The answer is quite complex. For a student to complete his/her education, more supporting services to reinforce free education is necessary. Now they receive free text books and one set of uniforms but what about exercise books and other requirements, at least one additional set of uniforms, transportation, and a morning meal to sustain themselves and many more essentials? There are many researches being carried out to get to the core of this unfortunate situation and measures to resolve it.
Observations of Manusath Derana strongly suggest immediate intervention of all concern is essential to minimize the school dropout rate along with an affective mechanism to uplift the lives of those who have already dropped out of schools.
Derane Daruwo scholarship programme was introduced as a result of an eight hour in-depth discussion where experts’ artists and leading figures participated. This was telecasted on TV derana. The final outcome of this was the selection of children from families affected with chronic kidney disease as the priority benefiaries of the programme. Currently, there are more than 2500 students benefiting from this scholarship scheme and this effort of ours is much praised by our viewers. The president and the prime minister of Sri Lanka have highly commended our efforts to support the educational needs of these disadvantaged children.
With extremely high costs and inadequacy of medical services coupled with lack of social protection schemes, a kidney patient in a family means a never ending struggle, even for a middle income family. The situation of paddy farmers is even worse as most of them can be classified as belonging to one of the poorest segments society, both economically and socially. As in most instances, if the bread winner of the family is affected with a kidney disease the family income comes to a halt. Extremely high medical expenses lead them towards debt. This financial instability makes children of the family, the most vulnerable and hinders their education. We regularly come across so many sad stories of children deprived of their childhood aspirations and basic requirements due to health conditions of the family members. In some families’ school going children are compelled to go out and earn a few rupees to substitute the meagre family income. Very sadly, most of them end up as unskilled labourers, promoting the intergenerational poverty.
Taking these unfortunate consequences in to considerations, Derane Daruwo Scholarship scheme was specially designed to support children from kidney patients’ families. More than 2500 such children are currently empowered to continue their education through this scheme yet the demand for financial support keeps growing rapidly in parallel to the identification of kidney patients.
Following are the common pressing problems of these families.
- Unbearably high medical expenses
- Both parents unable to earn a living.
- Single parent families with several little kids
- Child-headed families.
“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables-
MANUSATH DERANA KOREA LANKA SCHOLARSHIPS
In the recent past, a number of natural and man-made disasters occurred in Sri Lanka. So many innocent people including children, either lost their lives or were displaced. All their worldly possessions including children’s school books were gone. Some people such as victims of landslides lost their lands and do not have place to stand on.
Manusath Derana, Through the Korea Sri Lanka sansadaya initiated a scholarship programme to assist children affected by such disasters. Under this scheme, children who lost one parent or both are provided with financial assistance to continue their studies. Manusath Derana along with the Korea Sri Lanka sansadaya Pledge to continue the collection and generation of funds to help our children who are in such unfortunate situations. This pledge to accumulate the funds is to
- Securing the education of the beneficiaries
- Being armed to face such future disaster situations
- Initiating future programmes to extend further support.
EDUCATION IS THE ONLY HOPE
Education is the only hope for most Sri Lankan children to overcome severe poverty. With very little contribution from each of us, we can provide a path for our future generation to become scientists, engineers, economists who can make worthwhile changes in the world. Even though they do not achieve such praise worthy positions, providing education will result in closing our prisons. Poverty stricken children who have no better options are driven to crime as the only solution, thereby ending in prisons. Research has proved that if every child is educated, additional two percent economic growth of the country is possible.
Please come forward to help our children to learn. They will ensure a better world for us and the future generations.