Compiled by Nicola Jayasundera


Meth Abeysinghe moots climate education in Sri Lanka’s school curriculum

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

A: Sri Lanka is known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ and ‘Wonder of Asia.’ It’s one of the few countries that treasures and safeguards its long history, unique heritage and richly diverse culture.

We have many attributes that other countries envy. Yet, I feel that Sri Lankans are trying too hard to adhere to outdated traditions and blindly follow what was done in the past without questioning what we do.

Traditional views on social stigma, discriminatory practices, popular views and so on – whether these are political or social – should be looked at again with an open mind.

Q: And what are some of the many other challenges facing the nation today?

A: To state the obvious, Sri Lanka faces numerous unprecedented challenges today!

However, I feel that we have a collective responsibility in this regard – especially with regard to present outcomes and what would happen in the future.

Through all of these challenges, I see my generation’s newfound unity with the older generation shining through, as well as the possibility of working together like never before to rebuild our nation.

Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day – and if so, how and why?

A: Complete unity in any country on the face of the Earth is an impossible feat – there will always be diverse points of view and attendant disagreements.

On the other hand, the direction that our young people are taking is reassuring. Our youth are more open to and accepting of changes and differences, and this gives us hope for what’s to come over the next few years.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

A: Ten years can bring about some unpredictable developments, and I look forward to seeing and experiencing them all.

While nothing in life is guaranteed, my abiding hope is to pursue a career in the healthcare sector – and to continue engaging with communities that lack access to good healthcare and education.

Q: And where do you see Sri Lanka in a decade or so from today?

A: While Sri Lanka is undergoing tremendous economic hardships at the present time, I strongly believe that we are a nation with many resources.

Strategically managing these resources will pave the way for us to return to being a resilient middle-income country.

I say this because Sri Lanka’s literacy rate is on a par with those of developed nations and we have little or no gender disparity in our education system. So if everyone works better together, we can achieve a lot.

Q: Who is responsible for climate change and global warming – and what must be done about them?

A: At first, you may think of MNCs and transnational corporations as being culpable; but in reality, we all contribute to climate change as a result of global warming.

Through – the children’s environmental club that I founded – I’ve realised that individual responsibility is as important as joint action.

We should strive to incorporate climate education in the school curriculum, and work towards raising awareness among children and youth. By sharing the relevant knowledge, we can progress to the next step of mitigating the damage caused to the environment.

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

A: Social media is like yin and yang – it has at least two complementary aspects. It’s also a modern-day necessity that offers a plethora of opportunities for employment, as well as a platform for voices to be heard.

At the same time, it can be weaponised in the form or shape of cyberbullying, creating body image issues and detaching us from reality.

Q: And finally, where do you see the world in 10 years’ time?

A: The future is unpredictable. Ten years may not be enough to experience a reduction in racial, sexual and other forms of discrimination. But there’s sufficient time to see developments in the medical sector and technology – especially AI.

If an effort is made, we can start to reverse the damage caused by climate change and global warming. I also hope renewable energy sources will soon become the dominant provider of power.