“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” These memorable words of Eleanor Roosevelt – the diplomat and activist who served as the first lady of the US from 1933 to 1945 during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office – may sound hollow to so many of our youngsters today…

In these globally troubled times, Sri Lanka faces its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, and a belief in the beauty of one’s dreams just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.

So what do they say of the future that undeniably belongs to them – the youth? What do they make of the bequest of rising debt and soaring inflation? Do they dream of a beautiful future as they sit and stare into the darkness of a blackout? And is there beauty in their daydream as they languish alongside their parents in interminable queues?

Perhaps this is not the time to dream; not until we have all awoken from the nightmare that has come to define our daily existence. For surely a nightmare it is – for why else would the youth cry out with such despair?

They have raised their voices and called on a nation to join them. The beautiful dreams of their future have all but dissipated and harsh realities have lent a sense of urgency to their cries. Once more, our youth have stepped into the breach to make a valiant effort to hold on to the remnants of the promise of a future as beautiful as their dreams.

Indeed, they are demanding that changes be made now so that life may go on and allow them – our children – to make something of the ashes of this nightmare.

So we wondered…

Do Sri Lanka’s youth still believe in the beauty of their dreams? Do they still believe there is a future to lay claim to here, in the land of their birth?

Who best to ask but the youth themselves?

LMD reached out to students in leadership from schools throughout the island, to ask them for their thoughts, opinions and perspectives on the aragalaya, the education system and migration – and what they see as a future in our precious island nation.

Here’s what they have to say – in their very own words.


In these globally troubled times, Sri Lanka faces its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, and a belief in the beauty of one’s dreams just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore


Royal College

Never let anyone or anything stop you from achieving your goals – always believe in yourself.

Political instability
Excessive foreign debt and lack of foreign reserves
Lack of essential food items and drop in food production
Lack of medical equipment and medicine
Lack of fuel disrupting transportation and power generation

My father – Because of his amazing work ethic and constant focus on caring for everyone, and for always doing what’s right.

Be yourself and always fight for what you believe in. Always help one another – together, we can make this nation and the world a better place.

Q: In your view, has the aragalaya led to a united Sri Lanka – and if so, is this unity sustainable?

MAZIYYA ANAS: It definitely has. This struggle goes beyond the boundaries of race and religion, and is one that most Sri Lankans relate to. There have been beautiful displays of unity among people of different communities at the protest sites, queues and elsewhere in the country.Although there is a possibility that the positive changes brought forth by the aragalaya may dissipate when we no longer have the burning issue of survival at hand, I certainly think the impact of the conversations the aragalaya started will be lasting.
This unity we’ve managed to accomplish would be sustainable only if we work towards maintaining it and identify divisive political agendas in the process.
LIANA CORERA: Yes, the aragalaya brought together people from all walks of life. We have seen professionals, religious leaders and influencers come together with a common vision.
I think that this is a step toward sustainable peace and unity; but we are still in a vulnerable position, and should work towards mutual trust and brotherhood.
SHANSHIKA DORARAJA: The aragalaya has led to one united nation. Various strategies were used to terminate the protests but the aragalaya has united different struggles and given hope to our country.
Therefore, I’d say this is a sustainable unity because the next generation will be aware of all the circumstances faced in this time and how it led to unity despite political agendas. Unless they are influenced and diverted to useless options, there is no chance for racism to raise its head in the generations to come.
ANYA FERNANDO: Yes, because it has brought together a diverse group of people from different ethnicities, religions, social backgrounds and varying ages in pursuit of a common struggle.
However, I think it is unlikely that this unity will be sustainable in the long term, unless concrete steps are taken to address the fundamental issues that underlie the socioeconomic, racial, religious and other divisions that exist in our country.


Ilma International Girls’ School

The voice of the youth can force change; use your voice, question your biases and be the change you wish to see.

Corrupt politicians
Lack of accountability for the influential
Not optimising available resources
Education system requiring reform
Digital divide

No specific individual – I admire a number of people for their various traits.

The current crisis has highlighted our responsibility as citizens to demand system changes, hold authorities accountable and go beyond divisive boundaries, to make both individual and collective efforts toward ensuring this nation’s prosperity.

ABINAYA GOBYSHANGER: Yes, it was united… by a problem but not by a solution. It has brought people of various identities, abilities, backgrounds and beliefs together, which is essential to understanding the people around us.
But sustainability is the big question.
MINUKI GOONASEKERA: Every single person out there shouts for the rights that we all are entitled to as citizens. We all stand as one body and soul to overcome our daily struggles, regardless of our religion, race or social standing.
This time, it’s not just a few voices but the voices of all – the unity is sustainable because we’re now aware that we are all victims and in this together.
THEMIYA GURUSINGHE: I think that through common understanding, there was a single overbearing issue – the government. And people have united in ways so rarely seen before. People from different backgrounds and unique problems to overcome have banded together to champion the ousting of the common enemy.
Be it the Tamils in the north who have always had their demonstrations met with state violence, the crackdown on Muslims who faced unfair condemnation in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks or even the rampant homophobia and transphobia, people are now championing these issues together as opposed to individually.
The burden of problems that were considered unique to a few is now shared among all of us.
UMAAMA HUSSAIN: Yes. Initially, I was sceptical of the movement’s longevity. Would the aragalaya have occurred at all if the middle class and the rich had not been affected by shortages of medicines, fuel and food, and power outages?
But now I have hope when I see GotaGoGama with its focus on including people of all religions, ethnicities and classes. However, this unity will only be sustainable if the racially privileged continue amplifying minority voices so we can work towards repairing the systemic divisions in Sri Lanka.


Musaeus College

Try to be a dreamer who does and a doer who dreams. That’s what the world needs now more than ever.

Political instability
Poverty and unemployment
Economic mismanagement
Abuse of children and women
Children not having access to a proper education

My mother – For being my biggest pillar of strength and the most selfless person I know.

It’s no secret that Sri Lanka is in the midst of a grave crisis, which you and I are also a part of. And there’s no doubt that what led to this moment are years of corruption and mismanagement. So in order to liberate Sri Lanka from this crisis, a major change has to be made to the whole system and with regard to education.
For this change to happen, it is you and I who need to start by changing – for what makes Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka, are the 22 million hearts that beat in it.

JANIDU JAYASEKERA: On the face of it, it does seem as if there is a unity unseen before because if anything can bring people closer, it would be adversity and suffering.
Whether or not it is sustainable, only time will tell. Right now, the lower income class must consider the opportunity cost of participating in protests as a day of protesting means that their daily means of subsistence is lost.
The middle and upper classes however, have a fall back of capital they can rely on, no matter how tight things may be. So sustainability is really a question at present.
MINDUPA JAYAWARDANA: In the face of recent adversities, the people of Sri Lanka have united under one common objective to shape a better future. Race, religion and ethnicity have been cast aside as they struggle for a ‘change in the system.’
Sustaining this unity beyond the crisis is important. The country doesn’t belong to any one race or religion but to the people of Sri Lanka. Unity among people is sustainable if people choose to live and let live, learning from their past mishaps.
No race or religion was ever the enemy. Unity is strength.
EKMI KAVEESHA: Although we have had the aragalaya and protests, I cannot see that the problem has been solved.
This aragalaya has put our country into an abyss and not led to a united Sri Lanka.
SHAHEED KHAN: The aragalaya has truly opened our hearts and minds, bringing each and every ethnic group and religion together, motivating us towards a common objective.
A leader needs to be chosen not by considering and being loyal to a political party but by having a clear view of the leader. Therefore, the aragalaya has indeed united us and this unity will definitely be sustainable.


Methodist College

Your imperfections make you human and most importantly, approachable. Always strive to give your best.

Highly competitive A-Level examination
Small-scale businesses are not prioritised
Insufficient attention to developing public transport
Inefficient management and unproductivity in the public sector
Manipulation and vulnerability of the justice system

Mother Teresa – Because her actions were motivated by compassion, sacrifice and humility.

A change in society begins with you and your simple actions, which either promote good morals or spread fear and suspicion – and ultimately affects the life of fellow Sri Lankans.

PAWANI KIRINDE: People, irrespective of their ethnicity and religion, have joined the aragalaya and protested against a common threat – and stood together as Sri Lankans. The protestors have celebrated religious and cultural festivals together, and it’s been amazing to see this in the midst of the aragalaya.
Everyone has had to face difficulties in the current situation, regardless of their background and in many instances, people have cooperated and helped each other. But even though we’ve made a lot of progress I think there’s still a long way to go.
PAWARA KODAGODA: It’s a historical moment that the youth have united in this aragalaya to fight injustice in the face of adversity, and to overcome this crisis. This unity will last for many years.
ISURI MAPA: From what I’ve witnessed during the past few months, it has engendered the much needed solidarity among citizens.
The reason why everyone who stepped out onto the streets was able to work as one force towards a common objective is because they realised that despite their racial or religious differences, there is a resonance in their needs and opinions.
Indeed, the protests have been an eye-opener to most who were blinded by their inability to look past the discriminatory ways that were more often than not fed to them by those in power.
I believe that this unity is sustainable as long as we are able to avoid falling prey to the traps of corrupt politics and stay committed.
NETHULIE PERERA: The aragalaya has been a great unifying initiative; but its sustainability depends on whether external forces will succeed in creating issues among the people involved – and whether this unity might be forgotten once solutions are found for the burning issues.
This unity may not be sustainable in the long run since people tend to forget things easily when they are back to their usual lifestyles.


Convent of Our Lady of Victories

Our nation is bruised and we can’t undo the damage that has already been done. Therefore, let’s excel in what we do and be ready to make sacrifices for the sake of our country.

Rupee depreciation
Economic deflation
Political instability
Energy crisis
Failed sustainable development

Greta Thunberg – For her advocacy, bravery as an environmental activist and having the audacity to criticise world leaders for failing to create a better world.

During a trying time of crisis, our main purpose and intention as responsible citizens should be to save our valuable and beloved country from careless deeds. Therefore, let’s be a voice for the unheard and stand firmly in solidarity to build a better nation – starting with ourselves.

THARSANA PERINPANAYAGAM: The light of unity is so powerful that it can illuminate the whole Earth. This event gathered everyone regardless of religion, age, ethnicity and locality.
This unity has the makings of a revolution in politics but at the same time, it led to a chaotic eruption of violence.
KELLEN RANATHUNGA: The aragalaya has united the people without a care as to their cast or creed.
But it has not yet reached the point where all Sri Lankans have handed over their future to the aragalaya, and united as one true voice.
RANDEEV SENANAYAKE: The aragalaya has led to a united Sri Lanka. The unity displayed – people protesting harmoniously, eating together, celebrating religious occasions – is something the world can learn from.
In my opinion, the unity of all Sri Lankans will be maintained.
LAHAN WELGAMA: I strongly believe that the aragalaya has led to a united Sri Lanka. The youth involved in the aragalaya withstood the ruling family’s machinations due to their steadfast belief in and commitment to the pursuit of a better Sri Lanka.
People have ignored their gender differences and cultural backgrounds, and taken a step as the people of one nation. These are the Sri Lankan people I dream of – united as a family.
I think this unity would be sustainable if people continue to respect each other’s ways. The aragalaya has made us realise the true power we possess as united Sri Lankans.


Mowbray College – Kandy

Raise your head high and leave all the fear of mind behind. Never step back when storms arise – instead, face them with courage.

Lack of basic necessities
Inflation and near depletion of foreign exchange reserves
Domestic expenditure exceeds national income
Uneducated politicians in parliament and mismanagement of government
Inefficient education system

Dhammika Perera – For his entrepreneurial mind, leadership skills, substantial investments in different sectors and implementation of new strategies.

We live in an era of uncertainty in which we cannot predict what will happen in a few days. The economic crisis has burdened us in many ways. To overcome this turmoil, new short-term strategies should be taken and implemented as soon as possible to avoid a huge disaster.
The voices of the youngsters of this country should be heard and responded to, and a real solution provided. A real system change is demanded by all citizens of Sri Lanka.

Q: How do you view the aragalaya – and how do you think the voices of the youth should be heard?

LIANA CORERA: The aragalaya has achieved two main objectives. It has created a spirit of patriotism and hope that a change in the country is achievable; it has also provided an opportunity for the youth to take leadership and express their opinions creatively.
Therefore, I view the aragalaya as the voice of Sri Lankans who have joined together, setting their differences aside to work for the collective good.
ROSHAINE DE ALMEIDA: As citizens of a democracy, it is our right to demonstrate. Therefore, I view the aragalaya as a form of expression and as a struggle.
The involvement of youth in this moment of crisis is crucial. The voice of the youth should be heard solemnly, and not be taken for granted as they protest and demand a system change.
If responsible leaders engage with the aragalaya and seek solutions, there could be an end to the struggle and that would be the first step towards a sustainable future.
SHANSHIKA DORARAJA: Aragalaya means struggle .The country is struggling to meet its fuel, food and financial commitments. People were on the streets in a struggle against a government that has failed them, demanding the resignation of the president and all 225 members of parliament.
The protest is carried out mostly by the middle class population who are incensed by the rising prices of fuel and spiralling inflation. The protests erupted spontaneously with no political affiliations and it is evident that the youth are spurred on by the anger against the country being looted.
Many assume that children and youth lack the competence or experience to participate in a struggle, as traditional beliefs and sociocultural attitudes prevent children and young people from speaking up in front of adults, and engaging in political processes affecting them.
However, they have the capacity to understand and experience the issues affecting them. The aragalaya acknowledges the rights of youth to express their views and opinions, and values their suggestions of policies and regulations.
ABINAYA GOBYSHANGER: A few hundred kilometres away in the middle of a palmyrah grove where the wounds of war haven’t still healed, the aragalaya waves that rose from the beach of Galle Face gave hope to a naive girl.
In my short life, I have never seen such a democratic uprising in which differences are celebrated wholeheartedly. In the history of Sri Lanka, for the very first time, a space is provided for youngsters to be progressive and liberal.
I think the youth are society’s key agents of change and progress. This will lead the way to a promising future for the youth to represent themselves in politics and policy making decisions.


Ladies’ College

We are Sri Lanka’s future so we must participate actively in the social and political fabric of our country.

Need for political stability
Rebuilding the economy to attract foreign investments
Growing social disparity
Shortage of medicines and equipment
Retention of talent

I find it difficult to name only one because I have great admiration for people who value honesty, integrity and humility, and those who work hard with dedication.

Sri Lanka is currently facing an unprecedented financial, economic and political crisis. This crisis did not happen overnight. We need to understand and address the structural issues that have led our country to this situation.
While people from all walks of life have laid their ethnic, religious and socioeconomic differences aside to participate in the aragalaya, this unity between the people cannot last unless the underlying issues are addressed.

MINUKI GOONASEKERA: The aragalaya is not just a protest or riot; it’s the voice of the nation. It’s a revolutionary step taken by the youth to build a new life and claim their stolen rights back.
The faces of young people are the faces of our past, present and future.
THEMIYA GURUSINGHE: In difficult times, when the country rejects the conventional paradigm of governance, voices of the youth become ever so important. The new perspectives and constant evolution of social norms are something the government of Sri Lanka has not, and likely will not, adapt to unless a path is provided for the next generation to evince these realities.
The cabinet has been looking at these issues with worn out and outdated lenses. The aragalaya is a movement, a struggle, to develop Sri Lanka sociologically as much as politically.
MINDU HAPANGAMA: The aragalaya symbolises unity, and the eradication of racism, corruption and oppression. Our country has suffered from corrupt politics for decades. Yet, it was always easy for people in power to control the voices that spoke out against injustice as we were a nation divided by race, religion and political parties.
For the first time, we are one voice that demands to be heard. I believe that if the aragalaya can remain impartial and continues to fight corruption, the country will have hope for prosperity.
The voices of the youth must be given a platform from which they can channel their zeal and attention to problems and creative solutions.
JANIDU JAYASEKERA: The aragalaya was a long time coming – all it really needed was a tipping point. But in reality, this present is the past for many people below the poverty line. It’s just that now, the middle class that has not had to face adversity so severe finds itself taking to the streets. This is when the aragalaya really found its main support system.
I think the youth need a much more valid platform, apart from protests – an actual way to voice their concerns and ideas without being shut out by the media.


Chundikuli Girls’ College

Do small things in a great way and the reward will be huge.

No leaders with a vision and mission
Executive presidency
Incapable policy makers
Sustainable unity

Kumar Sangakkara – I’ve always thought of myself as a minority until I listened to his speech where he said: “There is nothing such as minorities in our country but people of Sri Lanka who have different beliefs.” This gave me a new and inspiring vision of life.

It’s all about having a positive mindset and fostering influence through my words. Patriotism isn’t something we realise and exhibit – it’s a lifestyle.

EKMI KAVEESHA: I feel that the aragalaya is unnecessary. Before the aragalaya, our country was very peaceful; but now we have people waiting in long queues for fuel, gas and essential items.
I want a peaceful country.
SHAHEED KHAN: The aragalaya is a result of the collapse of diverse aspects of the nation’s structure, which created social insecurity and naturally led to unrest in citizens’ minds – and the youth in particular.
The future holds no promise for the youth. They should be heard as they are the future.
PAWANI KIRINDE: Following the COVID-19 pandemic and being unable to afford basic necessities, I think the aragalaya has been the people’s way of saying ‘we’ve had enough, we’re no longer turning a blind eye to corruption and we are going to fight for our rights.’
As more people joined the cause and the protests grew more effective, a key aspect of it was the youth. Many young boys and girls have taken the initiative to take a stand against government corruption and this is a main reason for the success of the protests.
The voices of the youth should be heard as they are the future of this country.
PAWARA KODAGODA: Today, 22 million Sri Lankans are facing daily power cuts, steep price hikes, a scarcity of fuel, food and essential items, and diminished medical facilities. The worst affected by the prevailing situation are the poor and daily wage earners.
So the people have united in a struggle, the aragalaya, against the corrupt politicians and system of government to compel change. Though the voice of the youth should be heard, they should not waste their entire time and energy on the aragalaya.


Holy Family Convent

Success in life depends on the decisions you make – and it’s never too late to reevaluate your decisions and make new ones.

Environmental pollution
Narrow mindedness of some people in society
Lack of understanding the needs of daily life
Hierarchical structure and bureaucratic red tape

Mother Mary – I admire the simplicity, humbleness, modesty, patience and kindness she has shown throughout her life, and for the fear she had for God.

As a young citizen, I strongly believe that I should make an impact by example and by promoting mutual understanding. We should not be discouraged by the unpredictable future but do our best to uplift this country’s standards.

ISURI MAPA: The aragalaya is a turning point in our history – it is a full stop to years of citizen apathy and the first step towards making better decisions in the future.
As the youth are the main stakeholders of today’s decisions, their voices and concerns must be paid attention to – and their innovative suggestions should be heeded.
KELLEN RANATHUNGA: The young and powerful voices heard day and night at Galle Face, demanding the basic human needs and justice, are the very definition of the aragalaya. Already, their impact has rocked the government to its core but in the future, their voices can only be heard if they also continue their studies.
The greatest long-term impact the youth can have is by achieving their goals and becoming the professionals our country desperately needs and will need in the future, to restore and develop it.
RANDEEV SENANAYAKE: The aragalaya is a great initiative of peaceful protests never seen before in Sri Lanka. It is the first time the country has taken a united stance as one nation demanding good governance and justice. It is great to see people of all religions, races and ages coming together to stand for one cause.
The aragalaya has been very successful; and in my view, it is needed to make sure our country gets back on track for a brighter future. The aragalaya is one opportunity for the youth to voice their opinions and they should be heard as they’re the future.
LAHAN WELGAMA: World Protests identifies “mass middle-class involvement in protests” as a “new dynamic” that has ruptured “a pre-existing solidarity of the middle classes with elites,” mainly as a result of economic failures. Theoretically, the aragalaya can be described in this way.
Yet, in my opinion, it is much more than a common stand against corruption in our country. I believe that it is a revolution that has brought together the people of this nation despite racial and cultural differences.
This is a moment of change – to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace – and for those who told us that we can’t, we responded as a nation with that timeless scream that sums up the spirit of our people: ‘Yes, we can!’


Gateway College – Colombo

Always stay informed. It adds a lot to character to have your own nuanced and genuine opinions on heated issues.

National debt
Poor job market
Political myopia
Questionable alliances
Misallocation of our indigenous resources

My father – It was he whom I wanted to be like the most. Throughout his long journey to success, his character and values never wavered.

This is the time for humanity and compassion. A long and gruelling road is ahead, and the only way to weather it is together. The only way to solve these issues is to introduce new and fresh ideas, and hold accountable those responsible for derailing the future of our country.

Q: How will you be the change you want to see?

DINAL ALUTHGAMA: By being the best version of myself, by working in unity with others, and by helping to lead the change to make the world a more developed and better place for all!
IMAYA BOGODA: I will start with simple things. If I want to see a world that’s full of love and kindness, I will start by spreading love and showing kindness. If I want people to be truthful to me, I will start by being truthful to them. It’s as simple as that.
But as the saying goes, the simplest is the most difficult. It’s all about never hesitating to initiate good things.
LIANA CORERA: ‘It starts with you’ is a saying that challenges me to be the change I want to see.
People may fail to recognise this change; but working towards it, is worth it, for the satisfaction it brings. ‘Working towards it’ means that this goal of being the change you want to see should be incorporated into your everyday activities instead of allocating additional time and effort.
If I wished that people were more sensitive, it’s up to me to initiate this value because ‘what goes around comes around.’
ROSHAINE DE ALMEIDA: Change could be tough and unexpected but we are living in a world that needs a change, for despite the hardships it could lead to a better future. Change should start within and I would begin by doing the simplest acceptable actions.
For example, if I need to see a society without political instability, economic recession, gender discrimination or class distinction, I should be the force to address that by being sensitive to others, changing my attitudes of narrow thought and engaging in uplifting our society even through small acts.


Vidura College

Even cow dung can be an opportunity with a little imagination.

Facing the worst economic crisis in its history
Inconsistent and hindered education due to school and university closures
Scarcity of food, fuel, medicine, gas and electricity
Staggering downfall of the mental health of citizens
Brain drain with many educated citizens migrating

The future me – because I hope that one day,I’d be contented enough to genuinely say ‘yes’ to the question: ‘Are you happy?’

The aragalaya has been a seed for a revolution that is yet to come if as a nation we implement a radical policy change.

MINUKI GOONASEKERA: If I want to see a change in society, I should start by changing myself. Let’s not wait for the other person to do this.
Be the change you want to see!
THEMIYA GURUSINGHE: By leading by example. I have always been influenced by my seniors and other people in my life. I don’t think that looking up to a person who doesn’t share your opinions and ideas is a bad thing.
Character defines a person; therefore, my objective is to improve myself, and to be a role model to my peers and juniors.
MINDU HAPANGAMA: By striving to be a person with integrity, compassion, courage and enthusiasm, and by being accountable and self-aware.
UMAAMA HUSSAIN: When I was 12, I wanted to be the president. I was going to power buses with solar panels, start schools at 10.30 a.m. and improve women’s lives. I told my mother this – and she told me I had to become a Sinhalese-Buddhist man first. She wasn’t wrong.
At 17, I don’t want to be the president anymore; but I do want to help improve this country. Politics has always been considered ‘dirty work’ – but I know now that politics is personal.
I would like to address government policies that add to ethnic and language divisions, and contribute to institutionalised racism. I would also help develop reforms for safer public transportation, poverty reduction, better access to birth control and sex education.


Elizabeth Moir School

Start small and close to home – don’t feel overwhelmed by the crisis’ immensity and need to ‘fix’ everything.

Education system
Brain drain
Institutionalised racism and sexism
Freedom and safety of the press
Government transparency

Vraie Balthazaar – Being a feminist and political activist, she taught me that the ability to say politics is not important to you (as a citizen) is a privilege. Because that means you are of a class or race where government policies do not directly affect your life through for example, educational or agricultural policies. And she deepened my knowledge of how women are affected by the political and education systems.

Politics is personal – don’t shy away from discussions and involvement in it – and if you have the privilege of being able to protest and use your voice, do so.

MINDUPA JAYAWARDANA: A ‘change of the system’ doesn’t come from changing the people in power alone but by taking a stand against corruption by common people too. Unethically benefitting from the system should be despised.
A real change to the system can be brought about if we work on improving ourselves from the simplest point up. If we’re to challenge the politicians for their misconduct and go on to break the law ourselves, we would end up being nothing but hypocrites.
Acknowledging that we too are accustomed to this corrupted system will be the first step towards changing the whole system. It is only then that we can hope for a better future.
ISURI MAPA: Nation building and reconciliation should ideally develop from one’s most immediate surroundings. It is very fortunate that at Hillwood College – with its colourful diversity in student population – I was able to learn to look past differences and accept people for who they are.
I would empathise with and respect others, which will eventually enable the change I want to see.
HARAIN MURALIETHARAN: ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ Unity is key to the progress of a nation. I can see that we are polarised as a nation in ethnicity and religion. I will act as an agent to bridge the communities by organising unity camps and exchange programmes among students from all parts of Sri Lanka.
To address rising unemployment, I will encourage them to believe in their own talents and embark on self-employment schemes instead of being dependent on jobs. I will also train youngsters to move with nature, and to reduce, recycle, reuse and restore.
NETHULIE PERERA: The best way is by starting today – avoid procrastination and take the initial step. This step is always the hardest. Change begins with the first move.
In addition, organising yourself and planning your day will make a big difference to self-confidence and believing in yourself – qualities that are key to being the change you want to see.
THARSANA PERINPANAYAGAM: Complaining never makes anything better. Instead, we should find a solution. We have been hit by terrible food shortages and it’s difficult to implement a long-term solution for food security. But changes can be made by urging people to grow their food at home to stave off hunger.
It will be beneficial for all, in particular for low income groups, who are vulnerable to the skyrocketing cost of living and inflation. Growing our own food started in my grandparent’s generation and is still carried on by my family. Ultimately, it’s one of the best methods of guaranteeing a stable supply of food.
It may not be a complete solution to the food crisis; but it can reduce its impact.


Trinity College

It’s our time. Generations of corruption have led to our state of being. It’s time for a new Sri Lanka.

Corruption and theft of finances
Lack of proper planning of future investments
Food, fuel and gas crises
Need for a new group of leaders with proper educational qualifications
Proper plan to restructure the job market and appropriate education

Currently, I do not have one but if any qualities were to be valued, they would be the ability to plan ahead, think critically and being able to understand the
plight of all citizens.

The youth need a proper gateway to take charge in a country that has failed historically due to corrupt leaders without proper educational qualifications. The job market needs to expand in a way that people won’t be incentivised to migrate in search of better pay and quality of life.
A proper action plan needs to be established urgently with an emphasis on investments and a steady inflow of revenue to the country.

Q: How will you be the change you want to see?

KELLEN RANATHUNGA: Since the country will be unable to find an uncorrupted regime, it is my duty to make an effort to change the system in such a way that it will no longer accommodate any corrupt movements within it.
HUMAID SALEEM: The best way to influence the world is to impact the lives of others around you. I love teaching and mentoring my peers and juniors – it’s extremely gratifying to see people be themselves and do what they love.
Being a teacher-professor is how I intend to bring about that change.
LAHAN WELGAMA: I believe that anyone – every single person in Sri Lanka – can contribute to change. Change requires very small acts and they include picking up litter or planting a tree.
With the ongoing situation, our country needs its citizens to recover but unfortunately, people are leaving the country. Our country needs a strong and educated generation of citizens to contribute to its economic recovery. My vision is to contribute to my country by being a noble citizen.
How will I be the change? My vision is to educate myself first, build a successful business empire and contribute to my country with every action I make. My interest is to stay and help my motherland to recover from its harshest time. That is the change I want myself to be.


Leeds International School

Better days will come… and we will be the ones to steer our country towards those better days.

Disposing of and overcoming the corrupt system and administration
Economic crisis with no solid recovery plan
Violation of fundamental and human rights – and a lack of justice for victims
Lack of action from authorities to protect fauna and flora
Lack of basic facilities and funding for public schools

My brother – For not letting anything keep him from working his way up in life and standing up for himself.

Sri Lanka has a long way to go before it can overcome the challenges it’s facing right now; but with unity among the people, a will to overcome all adversities and create a better future, this beautiful island nation will recover.

Q: As far as our education system goes, what are the pros and cons?

DINAL ALUTHGAMA: The pros of Sri Lanka’s education system are that it’s comprehensive and challenging; it provides in-depth knowledge and understanding to students, and challenges them to continuously improve.
However, a major con of the system is that it doesn’t provide students with any hands-on practical experience of how the real world works.
MAZIYYA ANAS: Free primary to tertiary education in this country is a massive blessing, which contributes to the high literacy rate. However, the education system simply focusses on academics with examinations promoting rote learning and fewer opportunities to develop other skills.
We are also yet to adapt to digitalisation and the use of technology optimally for learning. Further, the higher education system could benefit from a greater focus on courses of study that cater to the latest job demands in the local and global market.
IMAYA BOGODA: Even though Sri Lanka is notable for its high literacy rate and free education, I think what the system needs now is nothing but a big change.
It’s high time we stop trying to mould each and every student into individuals who get the perfect score at exams, and put a lot of pressure and stress on them. Instead, we could focus on encouraging creative and out of the box thinking.
LIANA CORERA: The pros would be the availability of free education and it being compulsory for children of 14 and younger, and gender parity.
The cons are a lack of focus on life skills and experience, competitiveness of the A-Level examination and many being deprived of the opportunity of receiving free higher education.


Dr. Reijntjes School for the Deaf

You have the freedom to have the aragalaya but please don’t block roads, shoplift or burn homes… As a student, please spend your time to learn.

Lack of public transport due to lack of fuel
Increase in the cost of school stationery
Rising price of vegetables
Power cuts
Increase in cost of living

My parents – My father especially as he is always behind me and helping me.

Because of the aragalaya, our day-to-day work and life has changed. Most importantly, our education has been disrupted because of this. We need tobuild a united Sri Lanka and make way for a prosperous country.

SHANSHIKA DORARAJA: Sri Lanka’s education system has produced many world class scholars and professionals. The literacy rate is higher than in most of the developing South Asian countries. Students are allowed to learn various aesthetic subjects, technology and vocational studies other than the traditional lineup of subjects.
However, the evaluation method is questionable. Students are unable to follow their dreams due to the cut off marks and university entrance evaluation system. I suggest that opportunities for higher studies are made available to students who are talented differently.
ANYA FERNANDO: Our country has a remarkably high literacy rate so we’re doing some things right. That said, things can be improved.
When looking at the pros, primary, secondary and tertiary education is free; education is compulsory for students up to the age of 16; the literacy rate is high for both males and females; and now there are more opportunities for private education especially at the tertiary level.
As for the negatives, the education system is very rigid and exams are highly competitive; and as a result, many students are forced to seek private tuition, which is very costly. There is also a shortage of trained teachers so the quality of education is a concern. The availability of private education opportunities widens the economic divide between the rich and poor.
THEMIYA GURUSINGHE: I think the issues manifest mainly in the poor job market and lack of adequate measures to fill gaps in labour. Educated individuals must have the scope for career development and underemployment should be reduced. The biggest advantage is that it’s free and available to the vast majority; but without understanding its value, even free education is meaningless.
The drawback is the lack of entrepreneurial spirit as the system does not encourage start-ups and risk taking. This lacklustre attitude will not help grow the economy.


St. Thomas’ College – Gurutalawa

Wherever you go overseas, love and remember your motherland, for it was she who gave us birth and life.

Improper political structure
Unstable constitution
Lack of basic facilities
Food crisis

Mahatma Gandhi – He lived and died for his country.

Sri Lanka needs to function according to a plan in a proper political structure.

MINDU HAPANGAMA: Free education is a national treasure. It has allowed people from any background to have an opportunity to succeed in life and a way out from the circumstances of their birth.
But the system itself is very outdated and inefficient, and is more concerned with ‘passing’ instead of ‘learning.’ It lacks instruction in creativity, individuality and collaboration. This has created excessive competition, and resulted in mental health issues and a mentality of selfishness.
UMAAMA HUSSAIN: Sri Lanka has free education, increasing accessibility and improving literacy rates – but educational reform is long overdue.
Any household income saved on schooling is spent on private tuition so students can pass exams (a system that deliberately sets the odds against students for the sake of determining a Z score that mimics fairness rather than perpetuating it) while government spending on education has greatly diminished.
Additionally, the separation of schools based on race, religion and gender hinders the freedom to express these identities, and creates divisions, contributing to institutionalised racism and sexism.
JANIDU JAYASEKERA: The free education system is an undoubted pro but the fact that it can be crippled due to many external factors means that there isn’t a steady output from it.
The problem isn’t with the education itself; but rather, with the fact that there aren’t enough job opportunities and areas in which certain types of education can be explored, and put to good use. These structural issues force people to seek privatised education and ultimately, migrate.
MINDUPA JAYAWARDANA: Our education system has always been applauded for being free and having high standards. It has produced many talented students who have gone on to make a mark in the world.
The availability of free education has seen the literacy rate become one of the best in Asia, and largely benefitted low income families who would otherwise not have been able to afford education. But the tough syllabus and competition engendered by the current system have taken a toll on students’ mental health.


Sussex College – Kandy

Focus on educating yourself and work for your improvement to become successful citizens in the future.

Economic instability
Political corruption
Weak education system
Inequality among different ethnicities and religions
Environmental pollution

Jagath de Silva (the Principal of my school) – He was the person who saw my potential and helped me develop my public speaking skills. He is also a great leader.

We are facing a very difficult time right now and the future of the country is very uncertain. But we have also witnessed the strength and resilience of everyone during this crisis – especially the youth, who haven’t been afraid to voice their opinions and stand up against corruption.

SHAHEED KHAN: The system grooms students for competition and in the end, it only brings about a professional devoid of values.
Our present system has burdened children with a load of books, which gives them the appearance of porters and undoubtedly leads to distaste for learning – and furthermore, it fails to address the needs of slow learners.
Even three ‘A’ passes fail to guarantee higher studies at a national university. This destroys many dreams. The world holds many examples of better education systems and we need to pay attention to them.
PAWANI KIRINDE: Education is not just about learning what is in our books. Obtaining a good education is about being armed with knowledge, skills and proper virtues. A good education system should nurture all three.
Our system focusses on the knowledge aspect of education and not much on skills and virtues; and as only theoretical subjects are taught, there isn’t much practical knowledge.
There’s a lack of career opportunities and the choices are always centred on conventional jobs. I believe this is the reason why so many people are migrating and continuing their higher education in other countries.
PAWARA KODAGODA: All students from primary to university level have the opportunity and benefit of free education. But the issues of a dearth of trained teachers and lack of government funding remain. Plans should be made to boost education standards immediately.
HARAIN MURALIETHARAN: Sri Lanka has the best education system in Asia – our medical and engineering degrees are among the best in Asia and recognised in the West. But we also have a competitive environment due to limited universities.
Students are unaware of the next steps after their A-Levels. The pupil to teacher ratio is very low (26:1 in 2021). The system is mostly based on theoretical rather than practical knowledge.


Leeds International School – Matara

Try to spread humanity and unity. Don’t lose hope, be smart and patient, and always believe in yourself.

Bribery and corruption
Children’s education

My father – Because he always supports me to follow my dreams and pursue what interests me while knowing the risks.

Achieve your targets, love your nation and be an exemplary character.

NETHULIE PERERA: Providing free education is one of the significant pros as this ensures that every child has an opportunity. Education is available in all three languages and government examinations are free.
The tough competitiveness is something that lessens the desire for education and if a more practical based system could be introduced, students would enjoy what they learn.
THARSANA PERINPANAYAGAM: Our education history dates back 2,300 years, and the country has one of the highest literacy rates in the world (93%). Other benefits include free education and school meals for all.
But the major downfall of the system is that it focusses on grades rather than learning, and doesn’t encourage practical and innovative thinking. Our system needs to look beyond grades and place more value on teaching skills to ensure that students understand what they’re being taught.
HUMAID SALEEM: Access and opportunity tend to be one of the pros; and given that most government schools provide affordable and subsidised education, it is easier for children to obtain primary and secondary education.
However, rural areas lack the infrastructure and means to provide the said education – and the transition to education online during the pandemic massively impacted accessibility due to the additional requirements.
The approach we take to education is a con because of the prioritisation of grades and academics – ‘A’s and ‘A-stars’ are the be all and end all, and we write off children who don’t achieve these standards. Whereas in the real world, it’s often your people skills and ability to apply knowledge that bring success. Therefore, a fine balance between grades and soft skills is needed.
What’s more, the system does not deal with the mental health concerns of children such as bullying and depression. It is often seen as a symbol of weakness to talk about these issues and those who do are shunned. The world is changing and we need a better approach to the emotional wellbeing of students in the future.


Hillwood College

Allow yourself to be disappointed but not discouraged.

Economic crisis
Discrimination against minorities
Brain drain
Environmental pollution
Politicisation of many fields

Malala Yousafzai – Because she is a courageous woman who fights for equality.

When the youth are equipped with a good vision and stand together in solidarity, we will be able to begin a new and better chapter in our motherland’s history.

RANDEEV SENANAYAKE: The pros are the high rate of literacy, the present emphasis on education in the English language and free education to students in government schools.
The cons are the lack of opportunities for higher education, low degree of results and limited streams of study for higher education.
LAHAN WELGAMA: Sri Lanka’s literacy rate is very high. The youth literacy rate stands at 98 percent. Sri Lanka has achieved universal primary education parity. However, the literacy rate cannot completely reflect its true state.
The lack of creativity and over competitiveness is the result of our system. We should make changes by completely restructuring it and making it similar to the Japanese education system, which promotes creativity and discipline.
Further, there is inequality in our higher education system. Students who are unable to get into a national university after completing their A-Levels are left with limited opportunities if they’re from low income families – as they are unable to enrol themselves to study at private universities. A solution must be found for these problems.


St. John’s College – Jaffna

We’re proud to be Sri Lankan, and we should unite together and utilise our strength and enthusiasm to revive the economy and take the country forward.

Corruption due to inefficient political management
Inadequate export earnings
Brain drain due to instability

Elon musk – He is a good motivator, a successful man and a lead to my ambition.

Unity is strength – and the power of ‘me’ as an individual in society can help solve the burning issues and boost the economy.

Q: Do you see yourself remaining in Sri Lanka – or returning to Sri Lanka – or do you think it’s best to migrate?

DINAL ALUTHGAMA: Sri Lanka is a country with a lot of potential and opportunities for advancement and development. If the country is developed properly, and there is an acceptable level of political and economic stability in the country, we – as the future generation – can do a lot here in Sri Lanka.
However, other options may have to be looked at if these imperatives don’t exist.
MAZIYYA ANAS: The civil war in the past and the economic crisis in the present have resulted in brain drain, and the loss of valuable human resources, as people chose and continue to choose greener pastures abroad.
While it is up to each individual, we definitely need people who remain here and benefit the country. But that’s not to say that those who have left are not capable of doing their part from afar. Personally, I’ve never intended to migrate and have always had hopes of acquiring sufficient education, wealth and influence to serve the people of this country someday.
IMAYA BOGODA: Though I may venture overseas at some point for my studies or career, I have yet to decide whether I’m going to migrate or remain in Sri Lanka.
But what I know is that wherever I am, my heart will always be in Sri Lanka and I’ll do whatever it takes in my capacity to resolve the issues facing the country – and make it a better place for future generations to live in.
ROSHAINE DE ALMEIDA: These days, we see many people going abroad and leaving our country, and that leads me to a question: Will there be anybody left to save our nation? I think that as true patriots, we should remain in our precious motherland and be willing to make sacrifices for a better future.
But people’s situations are different. So if migrating is preferable, we should do what’s right for us. If we’re planning on migrating, we should not forget our country and be ready to do our part to help the nation in every possible way.
SHANSHIKA DORARAJA: Today, we are battered by the ongoing economic crisis and lack of basic necessities. I feel it is better to migrate for a short time in search of a better standard of living. In recent days and weeks, more than 200,000 passports have been issued by the immigration department. This reflects an urge to get away from the crisis.
The economic turmoil has affected millions of youngsters who are the future of this country. All the schools and universities have been closed; and due to a lack of paper, even exams have been postponed. This situation will not provide us with an effective education system.
We must make a path for our own lives; no one else will do it for us. Therefore, migrating for a short time (10-15 years) will benefit our family in many ways. I hope to apply for scholarships after my A-Levels to obtain a higher education and professional certifications so that I’ll be able to serve my country in a proper way when I return.


Alethea International School

Work hard, chase your goals and be the change that you and the country require.

High inflation
Lack of food and increasing malnutrition

Cristiano Ronaldo – He proved that hard work, believing in yourself and following your passion are the keys to success.

Unity, hard work, good education and having goals in life will help you to be the change you want to see – and become a productive citizen.

ANYA FERNANDO: It’s currently not up for consideration but I will always remember what my school, Ladies’ College, has instilled in me – and I hope to serve my country someday.
ABINAYA GOBYSHANGER: The position I’m in today isn’t purely through my effort but that of every citizen in this country who has helped me… knowingly or unknowingly.
The only way I could repay this is by reaching great heights and serving the country for the betterment of others like myself. So I hope to remain in Sri Lanka.
MINUKI GOONASEKERA: Our forefathers strove to build a good future for us on this soil. As the future of this country, I’m determined to be the change everyone desires and to be remembered as a great Sri Lankan…
UMAAMA HUSSAIN: Growing up, it was never a consideration that I would remain in Sri Lanka. But as one who wishes to pursue astrophysics, the country lacks the opportunities and facilities to thrive in such a field.
So the conversation around youth remaining to improve the country wasn’t something I ever thought I’d have to worry about. Given the volatility of the prevailing situation, I cannot honestly say whether I would return to Sri Lanka after my higher education, although some part of me will always want to – because if not I, then who?


Holy Family Convent – Jaffna

Try to accept and face challenges. Enjoy the taste of life.

Economic crisis
Political ineptitude
Human trafficking
Drug addiction
Social media addiction

President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam – He is a legend for the youngsters; a great example of hard work, simplicity and humbleness.

Ultimately, to free ourselves from these situations, we need to think, plan and implement better strategies for a brighter future.

JANIDU JAYASEKERA: Anyone would want to live in their country of birth and give back to it; but with a future that looks immensely bleak, not everyone would be willing to do so.
If migration is a possibility, then I think that option should be taken as anyone should have the freedom to live wherever and however they want to. Right now, with each day looking bleaker than the last, and with no solution in sight, it really would be unfair to ask anyone to stay.
MINDUPA JAYAWARDANA: Leaving the country was never on my checklist but the economic crisis has pushed me into opting to migrate for my higher education.
I’d be able to make my mark in the world – and make my country proud one day, if I migrate.
SHAHEED KHAN: Presently, each and every citizen has a feeling of being carried towards a horrible nightmare that no one wishes to be a part of – of pain, suffering, starvation, lack of opportunities and basic needs, leading to death.
Remaining in or returning to Sri Lanka will never be an option for any sensible individual, for it holds nothing but suffering and death.
PAWARA KODAGODA: I’ll stay in my country because this is the place where I was born. But I may go abroad to complete my higher education – and after that, I’ll return.
ISURI MAPA: Currently, I do have plans of going overseas for higher studies but wish to return once they’re completed.
While I respect the decision of many who wish to migrate permanently given the current situation, it would be better to contribute to the country’s progression to make sure that it is able to retain its talent. After all, that’s the best way to facilitate the development we dream of.
HARAIN MURALIETHARAN: I can confidently say that I’ll remain in my country perpetually. We’re Sri Lankans and we have all the resources to overcome today’s critical situation together. We have to work hard to revive our motherland.


Horizon College International

Whether the expectations of the aragalaya are met completely or not, you must focus on empowering yourselves with the right education and technology to ensure there is no dearth of professionals in the future.

Power crisis
Economic crisis
Desperation of people
Political turmoil
Rising unemployment

Tiger Woods (and his words): “In the game of golf, you may not always reach your intended target but you still have the chance to adapt and adjust accordingly.” I like his philosophy to play the game of life.

Struggles have had an impact, creating changes within the country. Yet, the country needs a constitutional solution to be on a par with the rest of the democratic world.

NETHULIE PERERA: Sri Lanka is blessed with countless natural resources and unique beauty but it could be more developed. The lack of infrastructure, facilities and stressful living conditions are the cause of more people migrating.
Students leave the country for higher education and only a few return as most try to settle abroad because they see the difference between the countries. But I think the best we can do as the youth is to remain in Sri Lanka and work for its development.
THARSANA PERINPANAYAGAM: Sri Lanka is an island paradise on the wish list of many tourists across the globe. We are privileged to live here so migrating to another country would be a great loss.
Although Sri Lanka’s economy is suffering due to the ongoing crisis, changes to the political system to introduce opportunities for the young would definitely give us hope to survive. Our generation is constantly looking to implement better policies to achieve a sustainable future, and overcome divisions on the basis of ethnicity and religion.
HUMAID SALEEM: This is highly dependent on the socioeconomic situation in Sri Lanka a decade or two from now. I’ll be in the US for the four years of my undergraduate degree, and hope to work abroad and then pursue my masters. I’d love to reside permanently in Sri Lanka because despite its flaws, it is my home.
However, that sentiment doesn’t outweigh the practical harms of living in an environment that’s politically and economically unstable. So in summary, I think it’s best to migrate right now; but if the situation improves, I will definitely return.
RANDEEV SENANAYAKE: I hope to go abroad to pursue higher studies. After I qualify and gain experience, I’ll return to serve my motherland. In my opinion, it is the right thing to do and a thought everyone should consider.


Stafford International School

It’s okay to make yourself a priority. Take a break when you need it – and always do what makes you happy.

Lack of accountability

Naruto Uzumaki – He may be fictional but never gave up on his dreams and was motivated by his love for those closest to him.

It may sound like a cliché, but there’s nothing wrong with following your passions.

Q: Where do you see Sri Lanka in a decade from today?

DINAL ALUTHGAMA: In a decade from now, Sri Lanka could be one of the most developed countries if we handle the prevailing situation in the country tactfully – and if we optimally utilise the vast resources we possess.
MAZIYYA ANAS: Looking to the future, we could either be led into further ruin by incompetent rulers and a failing economy, or things could improve for the better due to the efforts of the people and administrative miracles.
I’m optimistic about the future and see a Sri Lanka that makes progress in every field, perhaps becoming agriculturally self-sufficient with a thriving economy and a better system of justice.
This will become a reality not only with the franchise of the people but also with the will power and dedication of every Sri Lankan to bring about positive change. The decisions we make today will build the Sri Lanka of tomorrow.
IMAYA BOGODA: Given the current events in the country, it’s really hard to predict where Sri Lanka will be in another 10 years.
I hope that in a decade from today, we see a country that is not fettered by corruption and mismanagement; where sensible and educated leaders with empathy, strong visions and creative ideas – and who are willing to see politics as a service instead of a source of income – will govern.
In addition, I wish to see a country in which its citizens are fully aware of their rights, and have a higher level of political, social and economic literacy.
ROSHAINE DE ALMEIDA: In a decade from today, I’d like to see my country in a happier situation – i.e. satisfied citizens, corruption free, politically stable and without an economic crisis.
To make this a reality, we should act now. Our actions are what matter most.


Wesley College

No matter what you achieve in life, be it the smallest of achievements or the greatest, remember to be humble, honest and a person of integrity.

Prevailing economic situation
Absence or unreasonable price of food
Increased incidents of murder, child abuse and abduction
Several postponements of the O and A-Levels and scholarship exams
Fuel crisis

My mother – She has shown me that no matter how many challenges I face in life, to believe in myself and be courageous.

The aragalaya is a peaceful protest mainly by youth never seen before in Sri Lanka and the world, for good governance and justice. It is a platform for the youth to voice their opinions and has brought about unity of all religions and races by standing for one common goal. This unity will be maintained.
With the disruptions to the education system, studying abroad is the most prudent option but I will return to serve my motherland. Free education and the emphasis given to English will create more opportunities for employment. Unfortunately, the numbers to enter universities are restricted and the streams of education available are limited.

ANYA FERNANDO: Today, Sri Lanka is facing a grave financial, economic and political crisis, and many of us are feeling discouraged and anxious about what will happen. I am optimistic however, that Sri Lanka’s fortunes can be turned around and that this country will once again be a true ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ in a decade from today.
To achieve this, we must first understand and take measures to address the underlying structural problems that exist in our country. If we don’t address these burning issues, we’ll not be able to rebuild our economy and attract the foreign investment that it so desperately needs.
ABINAYA GOBYSHANGER: If the striving of the aragalaya succeeds, we will emerge as a self-sufficient country with redefined government and administrative engines, and become a progressive, policy driven, corruption free and disciplined country.
MINDU HAPANGAMA: If we continue to stand up against political corruption, I see Sri Lanka prospering under a government that will think beyond the age-old political and economic policies.
Therefore, I boldly envision a sophistication of exports and the creation of a competitive private sector – and a time when we do not have to fly to India for medical procedures. We would be an education and software hub – and a destination for world-class Ayurveda and indigenous treatments.
I see a future in which government cannot violate the economic and social rights of the citizens.
PAWANI KIRINDE: The society that we’re living in has many difficulties. The citizens are under pressure because of the ongoing economic crisis due to political instability. People are no longer tolerant of the corrupt agendas of politicians.
Despite its issues, this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with wonderful natural resources and so much potential. People are becoming more aware of the importance of staying in the country.
I think Sri Lanka is on the right path in terms of trying to fix these problems and in another 10 years, we will see a much better Sri Lanka.


Lyceum International School – Wattala

I strongly encourage Sri Lankan youth to join the battle to end the current crisis and not leave the country.

Income inequality
Political extortion
Unhealthy rate of emigration
Lack of access to daily necessities
Unhealthy balance of payment deficit

My father – He is a self-made man who overcame poverty and helped his family to live a better life. He worked hard and educated himself. He is kind-hearted and humble, and always willing tocontribute to society and help the needy.

Sri Lanka can be brought back to its former glory. It requires the support of citizens – especially the youth. We cannot be consumed by our petty differences.
To all those who have wondered if Sri Lanka’s beacon still burns as bright, we shall prove once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or scale of our wealth but from the enduring power of our ideals, democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

HARAIN MURALIETHARAN: In a decade, I see Sri Lanka as a developed country with a high level of literacy and national income, and low inflation and unemployment levels – with all ethnicities, religions and cultures living happily and peacefully, under a good democratic government.
The country will be economically self-sufficient and more developed. We will be manufacturing and exporting, and be established in the shipping industry. We will be providing IT related solutions worldwide.
KELLEN RANATHUNGA: Any country facing a severe crisis will have the opportunity to rise under the right leadership and alliances with world organisations. Within the next 10 years, our country will find this, and be set on the right path and develop itself once more.
HUMAID SALEEM: Once again, this is highly dependent on whether structural changes regarding economic policy and the political establishment occur.
A strong enforcement of democratic norms, debt restructuring and better fiscal policy are a few of the many changes that will determine what the future will look like. So no, I cannot envision what the future will look like because there’s no sure fire way of predicting the probability that these changes will materialise. However, if they do, the future is something to look forward to.


LMD July 2013

Environment Lead (Royal Commonwealth Society)

You cannot instigate great change alone. A group of like-minded folks are needed for systemic change. The end goal must always be remembered – as in Star Wars or the Lord of the Rings.

Sanna Marin – For walking the talk including being a vegetarian.

Q: In your view, has the aragalaya led to a united Sri Lanka – and if so, is this unity sustainable?

ANOKA ABEYRATHNE: The aragalaya has united Sri Lankans across all levels of society against corruption. This is mostly because of the restrictions and economic crisis affecting every single person.
However, there is longstanding generational and systemic corruption that makes this unity unsustainable, especially given the current economic crisis resulting in folks resorting to short-term deals and gains for personal profit.
To have actual sustainability, leadership and people from across the political, corporate and other spheres need to be ethical and meritocracy oriented.


LMD August 2014

IT Consultant (Infor M3)

It is our responsibility to contribute towards peacefully rebuilding a promising future for our children and the generations to come.

Prashan De Visser – After the civil war, he voluntarily committed to work with youth from various backgrounds locally (through Sri Lanka Unites), expanding globally (through Global Unites) for youth led reconciliation transforming conflict.
His work towards peace building in Sri Lanka, breaking through ethnic conflict to heal the nation with hope, inspires me. And despite all the heights he has reached, he has constantly demonstrated humbleness and integrity.

NATASHA HARIHARAN: Yes, it has provided a common ground to stand in solidarity.
I strongly believe that this unity would be sustainable despite the different ideologies – if we all continue to support and participate in the collective goal of wanting a corruption free, transparent, accountable, educated, non-narcissist, just, non-violent and accountable political system to be put in place, to build a diverse and inclusive nation.


LMD January 2015

Legal Research Officer (and pursuing his bar examination)

It’s easy to look at the situation around us and desire to leave this country forever. But if those who could build Sri Lanka to be better than what it is today leave, how much longer will it be before Sri Lanka achieves its true potential?

Trevor Noah – He grew up with the cards stacked against him. He was literally born in apartheid South Africa. Despite all the reasons he was given that life would be hard, he made his own destiny and created a life of inspiration. Today, he is one of the most influential people in the world.

RUEL JEGASOTHY: The aragalaya is a moment that will go down in our country’s history – people from all walks of life have joined together to show their disapproval of the executive. This includes people of all castes and creeds.
In my view, Sri Lanka was awakened this year in a way that connected each other to our struggles despite our differences. It was a unity that transcended the communal acts of violence from our past. I believe this unity is sustainable, and must continue if Sri Lanka is to heal as a nation.


LMD April 2014

Musician, model and writer

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Securing our demands will take some time so being prepared to wait and continuously apply pressure is paramount.

Marguerite Richards – A mentor and boss who taught me never to take ‘no’ for an answer, and instilled the importance of working hard and being detail oriented.

FRANCESCA MUDANNAYAKE: Yes, it’s a first for Sri Lanka. It’s heartening to see people, regardless of their background, come together to voice their frustration.
Minorities have been protesting for longer so there is a danger we will lose momentum and forget what the aragalaya is about. For it to be sustainable, we must continue to protest and vote wisely when there are elections.


LMD September 2013

Manager – Management Accounting

Have a set of principles for your life and stand by them despite how others may try to influence you.

I don’t have one role model because I’m inspired daily by the people I interact with. Each of us has something extraordinary amidst the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary in others makes me want to be the best version of myself as well.

RONALI PERERA: Yes, I think the current situation in the country has led people to come together for a common purpose based on a common plight. There’s also much more empathy and sensitivity towards others.
Hardship may have brought people together but it’s important to remember the progress made and continue the same even after things improve.


LMD December 2013

Site Engineer (Access Projects)

Everyone has their own time zone to achieve things in life. So patience, hard work and belief in yourself will eventually bring you success.

Stephen Curry – For his ‘never give up’ attitude, and stable professional and personal life.

ASHAN SUGUNAKUMAR: The aragalaya has definitely strengthened unity among Sri Lankans. It is indeed pleasing to see many people from different ethnicities uniting towards a common goal.
This unity will only be sustained if people do not deviate from the initial goal, which brought them together.