Sri Lanka schools not teaching children actual history: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s schools are not teaching correct history, a government minister said giving credence a growing awareness that kids are being brainwashed with cherry picked historical accounts aimed at triggering nationalist hate through a centralized syllabus.

Sri Lanka’s kings were not nationalist, Hill Country Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella said Tamils and Muslims were ‘relatives’ (nedayo) of the Sinhalese, despite false portrayal by some elements.

After long promoting hate against Tamils, teachers in Sri Lanka’s schools are now turning aggressively into promoting hate against Muslims, according to some critics.

"I am please asking you to stop promoting ethnic hatred," Kiriella told parliament addressing some members of the opposition.

"The Tamils and Muslims are our relatives. The Tamils came from India. We also came from India. We have to accept that. Some people are not willing to accept that."

"When Muslims first came to Sri Lanka in the 16th century they married Sinhalese wives.

"When the Dutch chased away Muslims they went to King Senarath. Now if they came to meet what will happen? It was King Senarath who told them to settle in the East and look after the area for him. That is how our Sinhalese kings behaved.

"It was King Senarath who gave the land to build the Church in Vavuniya, Sir."

"But we are not taught this in school."

He said several Sri Lankan kings were ‘Tamil’.

King Vijaya Rajasingha of Kandy was the brother of the wife of King Vira Narendra Sinha who was a Nayak Princess from present-day Tamil Nadu.

"There was the choice of a Sinhala and Tamil prince for the throne. One was Unambuwe Kumaraya, the son of Unambuwer Kumarihami. The other was Vijaya Rajasinha, who was King Narendrasinghe’s wives brother.

Kiriella said the Joseph Vaz, the Catholic leader who was recently beatified by the Pope was buried in Kandy.

"The Kings of Kandy has given a example to the nation about a culture without nationalist hatred.

"We had this culture in our country. But this history in not taught in school. Most people only know the victory of 1956. We also know the 71 and 89 rebellions. That is what we know."

Political philosophers have said that centralized syllabi of state schools were a key trigger of ethnic violence in newly independent European states as well.

Some of the worst ethno-linguistic and ethno-religious violence was seen in Eastern Europe after imperial and monarchical rule was replaced by the popular vote (democracy).

"Western Europe developed the system of obligatory public education," wrote Ludwig von Mises, who saw Nazism emerge out of democracy (the popular vote) in Europe after the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke down.

"It came to Eastern Europe as an achievement of Western civilization.

"But in the linguistically mixed territories it turned into a dreadful weapon in the hands of governments determined to change the linguistic allegiance of their subjects.

"The philanthropists and pedagogues of England who advocated public education did not foresee what waves of hatred and resentment would rise out of this institution." (Colombo/July11/2019)