“Today the world lives by faith and runs by science”.
Why you may wonder. Science is not just the mere encircling of some atoms, as everyone stereotypes, instead it reaches far deep. As deep as the basis of human existence and the governance of the universe. This world may be diverged because of race, religion, economic status, or skin color yet undivided by the laws of Science. From the age of Neanderthals to the age of Artificial Intelligence, this sphere we all live in has transitioned by a considerably huge quantum with the progress of Science. In this day and age so much has become possible thanks to this branch of knowledge and it has shaped our lives in many ways we could not even imagine back then. All this may sound rhetoric to someone, but nonetheless, Science is the universal truth that binds everything. This vastness and importance of Science lead us to the concept of “wise advice”.
Science has opened up many career options and future pathways to youngsters all over the world. This discipline has uncovered many unexplored aspects of nature and its basics, which can be utilized for the evolution of the world’s tomorrow. For graduates who are following Science, there are an unlimited number of higher study materials and pathways and a vast amount of career opportunities as well. In developed countries, Science has advanced and surpassed many milestones but where do the developing or less developed countries stand? Sri Lanka is still a developing country, and the citizens of this country are still unaware of the very many advantages that one can gain by following the Sciences. Hence, RACFOSUOC took the initiative to conduct the project “WiseAdvice”, for the enlightenment of our youth.
In Sri Lanka, an individual’s future is determined by his or her Advanced Level results. Therefore, a significant amount of pressure is put on us, by our families and peers to perform well in our studies. It is densely imprinted to our cores since our childhood that, if we did not do well in Advanced Levels we would not have a future. By “having a future” what they interpret is that you have to become either a Medical Doctor or an Engineer because these two occupations are the most sought after careers in the minds of our citizens. Thus, many kids end up choosing the Science stream over what they are good at just for the sake of what they have been taught; to become a Doctor or an Engineer. There is a handful who do choose this stream because of their passion for the Sciences, but truth be told the majority take this decision irrationally with no idea whatsoever of what lies ahead for them.
After facing the unimaginable, the most dreaded results for the A/L examinations release and some are selected to Medical and Engineering faculties whereas some are not. As a result, many repeat the exam a second time, a third time with the hopes of entering the above faculties.
The majority do not glance at the many other studies they could follow with the results they already have. Even if they are willing to consider the thought, most tend to back away from it due to the stereotypical thinking of our country and owing to the uncertainty of the career options they can take up after graduation. Along with this timely topic, the project’s focal objective was to find answers to these myriad queries of clueless students.
The targeted audience for “WiseAdvice” was A/L students, after A/L students and undergraduates who follow Science or wish to follow Science. Thereupon, as the initial step, a survey was conducted anonymously to get a rough idea of where the students and undergraduates ideas were. Based on the survey results, the project was outlined and followed. Analyzing the data collected from the survey, it was crystal clear that students are still shielded in the box of oblivion. As university undergraduates we all have that doubt tugging at us from time to time; “If this is to be continued, where will our future head?”.
Therefore, we at RACFOSUOC wanted to get out from this stagnated abyss of ignorance. We needed to speak out that not only a good education but a good education in Sciences specifically could craft a better future for our country.
“WiseAdvice” was conducted as a Panel Discussion with the hopes of providing guidance and insight to all the students in need. For the Discussion, we contacted four knowledgeable personalities who are alumni of the Faculty of Science, University of Colombo itself. Namely, they were Dr. Charith Peris, Dr. Nuwanthika Fernando, Dr. Anurika De Silva, and Ms. Roshini Randeniya who are all based abroad, studying further into the Sciences and had already achieved so much by following their dreams.
Project WiseAdvice marked its ending on a successful note on the 21st of November 2020, amidst many praises and cheers. Even though piled up with academics, many undergraduates and students took part in the discussion surpassing our expectations. The webinar session unrolled smoothly with no disturbances and it was reassuring to see so many who were keen on following Sciences in their future. Undoubtedly, the discussion was really informative, enjoyable, and worthwhile as all the professionals who joined us addressed many doubts that a Science graduate could have regarding what lies ahead for them, regardless of the mediocre thinking pattern in our country.
On that account, I must add it was a very intuitive discussion for all the participants because we all got a much distinct and clearer picture of what a Science graduate could do in the future along with the career pathways that we could take up. Moreover, they discussed balancing studies together with extracurricular work and how all the extra work they did as past Rotaractors of the Faculty specifically helped shape their lives for the better. Their tips on time and stress management were indeed much needed in these difficult times.
I think everyone will agree with me if I say that it was one of the most informative and educational yet enjoyable sessions we all have attended so far. Given the ongoing pandemic situation in the world, amidst pressured life conditions, it was indeed a thrill to have been a part of the team behind all the action.
On an ending note, with the COVID-19 peril, many have understood and have learned to respect Science because it is what saves us. When everything has become uncertain today, Science is the only thing that has remained a constant, unfazed by all. Through COVID-19, nature has punished humans for going against the Laws of Science. Therefore, let us all keep in mind that Science is the key to the future and it is in our hands to decipher the truth from lies and set our minds to achieve our goals despite social pressure and criticism.
By Rtr. Nishakya Liyanarachchi