Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo


Tatiana Dirckze highlights the importance of education to counter evil

Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly here in Sri Lanka?

A: Despite the political situation that never fails to deliver a new twist every day, our country is underrated. Most would surmise that on a scale of ‘good’ to ‘ugly,’ Sri Lanka should be placed in the centre.

Amid the chaos that followed the 21 April attacks, it’s noteworthy that millennials are speaking with one voice – they’re using social media and other platforms to express the need to remain united, despite cultural and ethnic differences.

Q: And what changes do you observe in women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability?

A: In terms of women’s empowerment, many females in the country are taking on leadership roles. This is a historic occurrence for Sri Lanka, which has produced the world’s first female prime minister, highly recognised women entrepreneurs and philanthropists such as Otara Gunewardene.

When it comes to environmental sustainability too, Sri Lanka has progressed with numerous reforestation programmes being fuelled by the increased use of social media and widespread media coverage.

Q: How can Sri Lanka retain the talent that it has and thereby curtail the brain drain?

A: The brain drain is a pressing issue and is perhaps due to the lack of attention paid to the education system – not only by government but also the private sector. The lack of avenues to showcase talent holds back extraordinary youth.

Our education system requires more resources. It is increasingly clear that compared to the rest of the world, Sri Lanka has limited space for new talent to emerge as it’s predominately driven by the older generation. And while their work must be respected, there must be more space for young Sri Lankans too.

Q: Will Sri Lanka be united one day?

A: Is our country united at present? It seems as though we’re reverting to an ‘ethnic conflict.’ Groups of young people who are misled by politicians, as well as religious leaders, shouldn’t represent the peace and harmony that we have as a whole. We’re united to some extent even now.

If the question were to be rephrased (to ‘Would Sri Lanka be more united one day?), the answer then is ‘yes.’ As time passes, political instability and ethnic violence will be resolved; and by learning from mistakes, we can live in peace as we did for almost 10 years following the end of the war.

Q: What are the challenges facing the country today?

A: The government must be dealt with expeditiously as the largest barrier holding society back in a state that lacks values and morals. Also, while drug offenders have been arrested, we are unable to fully enjoy the absence of the narcotics trade.

I blame this on the education system, which lacks provisions and resources, as well as government irresponsibility and unaccountability.

Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?

A: In the past, older generations were against social media and technology, due to ignorance and fear. But today, they use social media and technology to a much greater extent.

Children should be on social media in a controlled and monitored environment, which enables everyone to stay connected and spread the good. The speedy response to the Easter Sunday attacks – where people used social media to urge others not to spread violence and hate messages – is a positive example.

Social media should be permitted to grow with more platforms created to voice opinions and spread the truth.

Q: What are your thoughts on gender equality and global poverty?

A: Gender equality has gained greater traction in today’s world. Women assume senior positions globally and the stereotypical comparison between genders is reducing.

However, the battle to end poverty prevails. Lack of employment opportunities and family planning in underdeveloped areas continue to fuel an endless poverty trap. Once again, proper education is the clear solution to create improved career opportunities and income equality. Alas, governments fail to realise this.

Q: Who is responsible for climate change and global warming?

A: The US is the largest polluter and contributor to global warming. However, blaming one country would be counterproductive. Instead, we must all take responsibility as human beings.

Reversing global warming is a long journey but with effort and a bit of soul, it can be done. We must correct mistakes and take responsibility for our actions.