Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
Thisaakhya Jayakody is confident that the next generation will be diligent
Q: What opportunities do you see for young Sri Lankans such as yourself?
A: Unlike in the past, many conventional universities have opened up in various provinces and are catering to more students. International education institutes and professional bodies have also displayed a keen interest in our country. As a result, many recognised foreign universities and professional institutes are located here in Sri Lanka.
Moreover, the opening of vocational centres in most districts has paved the way for the less studious to excel in any field they choose and become professionals. And institutes offering special programmes to develop self-esteem and leadership qualities enable youth to voice their opinions fearlessly. All of this adds to the opportunities for youth to further their abilities and talents.
Q: What changes do you observe in the spheres of women’s empowerment and health?
A: It is definitely encouraging to see more women professionals in the fields of engineering and aviation in Sri Lanka, while there’s a noticeable growth in female writers who bravely discuss complex topics, including domestic violence and sexual harassment. Outstanding young female politicians who have stood their ground in a male-dominated parliament are also evident.
In healthcare, both prenatal and postnatal care is great. Meanwhile, the healthcare sector maintains high standards. Sri Lanka has the good fortune of a low level of communicable diseases and long life expectancy. Being pronounced a malaria-free country is also a great achievement.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: As an independent professional serving my country – and most importantly, being happy.
Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day?
A: Yes, but only to some extent as not everyone respects other religions and races.
However, at the school level, there are efforts being made to achieving unity. For instance, my school – being a Christian Missionary Society school – offers equal priority to all religions. Most students participate in others’ religious activities with much enthusiasm, respecting diverse cultures. When schools inculcate such values in students, it promotes unity among the younger generation.
Q: Do we have young leaders who can take the country forward?
A: Most definitely. Today’s younger generation is well-focussed, diligent and passionate about what it does. The youth strive towards a particular goal, while motivating others to follow suit. So they are absolute assets and possess traits such as professionalism. Good public relations and being independent are added advantages.
Q: How do you view gender equality and the prevalence of AIDS?
A: Gone are the days when a particular profession was dominated by a certain gender. Today, many women head companies, institutes and states. There are laws to protect them from violence. At the same time, I believe that women should not disregard the privileges they’ve gained, as equality is about respecting all genders.
As for AIDS, it is imperative that every student is educated on venereal diseases at a suitable age, to avoid lifelong repercussions. It is heartening to see many people going the extra mile to make AIDS victims comfortable and the latter coming forward to warn youth against this disease.
Q: What challenges do young people face in a global context?
A: Many youth now possess a basic degree and becoming more qualified is the norm. Yet, employment opportunities are not increasing at the same pace. With such severe competition, multitasking and fine-tuning one’s talents have become compulsory – and this is certainly a challenge. An extra effort must be made to establish individual identities to create a niche in one’s chosen field.
Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?
A: Social media is an excellent communication platform to voice opinions and understand different cultures – and learn to respect them – while also providing the most current information. Therefore, social media is helpful to mankind and unavoidably becoming a communication tool of increasing importance.
However, if this growth is left unchecked, the consequences could be extremely harmful. Besides the authorities, parents too must make an effort to communicate frankly with their children about the society in which they live, and discuss their fears and issues so as to avoid being negatively affected by social media.