Singing away to a business degree
Educationists in Sri Lanka in collaboration with Australia present a golden opportunity for school leavers to study music and business as a degree
The education authorities in Sri Lanka have presented an opportunity for school leavers to enroll for a degree programme which has music and business as the two subjects. The media was briefed about the programme at a conference held recently during which Gateway Graduate School Chairman Dr. Harsha Alles (fourth from left), Founder and Music Director of Souls Sounds Academy Soundarie David Rodrigo (Third from left) and Professor Ingrid Day, a representative of University of Adelaide (Fifth from left) spoke.
Pics by Damith Wickramasinghe
Gateway Graduate School Chairman Dr. Harsha Alles spoke at length about this unique opportunity. “This partnership is not only important to art students, but it is also something that is very special to Sri Lanka. This is because we are trying to do something new with regard to the entire syllabus. It has been designed and planned to make sure that we try our very best for Sri Lankan students to move away from traditional educational practices and rather pursue their passion through education. To make a change and do something different I believe it must start from the top, from the people who are driving education in this country,” said Dr. Alles.
Business as a major
He spoke on how the degree programme would be conducted. “The business and music degree programme is arranged as such that it will begin in Sri Lanka where students are able to do an international diploma in business at Gateway Graduate School. The music modules, which are part of the diploma, will be conducted by Soul Sounds Academy. After the students finish their modules in business and music in Sri Lanka, they would be able to join the second year of the degree programme at the university of Adelaide in Australia. They will have to do business as a major and music as a minor at Adelaide University. I sincerely hope this would be the start of such opportunities opening up in Sri Lanka, because there are so many passionate and talented students in Sri Lanka who do not have a structured and formal path to pursue their passion,” he added.
He spoke on how this initiative truly began. “It all started a few months ago with a phone call from Soundarie David and she asked if we can collaborate together . We both actually come from completely different backgrounds, I am a medic by profession, but I pursued a path in being an educationalist and Soundarie is a qualified lawyer, but she pursued her passion in music. We both share similar goals and that is to build pathways for students to follow their true passion rather than pursue what they are expected to. We both believe that education can be delivered in a way where students enjoy their learning,” he said.
He added, “Soundarie’s concern was that there is a growing number of students who are interested in pursuing music, but we can see that many of them finish their music education when they finish school. It is however, quite difficult to convince parents to allow their children to pursue a path in the humanities, because many of them believe that their children should qualify as either doctors, lawyers or engineers. This initiative was in fact a way to allow students to pursue their academics while engaging in their passions as well. When we had this discussion we believed we should contact a university in Australia”.
“I visited University of Adelaide and I have to say that I was truly taken aback from the beauty of the city and the culture of the university. It is the third oldest university in Australia and is among the top 8 universities in Australasia (G8) and it is part of the top 100 universities in the world. Hence, it is part of the top 1%,” he said.
Soundarie David Rodrigo, founder and music director of Souls Sounds Academy said, “This is the first time in Sri Lanka where there has been a collaboration in music and business. The reason why I truly wanted such an opportunity created is because of my own experience. When I finished school I was selected to the Law Faculty of Colombo. Though I wanted to be a lawyer, my passion for music was always within me. I had to work very hard at the Faculty of Law in order to enter The Royal School of Music in England to complete my education in music. It took me a long time to finish both, but I did not give up because I did not want to give up either law nor music”.
“I am happy that now through this collaboration with Gateway Graduate School and University of Adelaide that we are able to create a pathway for talented students to balance both their music and traditional academic education,”she said.
After the students finish their modules in business and music in Sri Lanka, they would be able to join the second year of the degree programme at the university of Adelaide in Australia
She also spoke about Sri Lanka’s education system and the attitude towards it. “I think it should be noted that there is much pressure coming from parents making children follow a career in either law, medicine, commerce or engineering. It has become so competitive that even my grade 5 students stop all their extra curricular activities when examinations are around the corner. This is the kind of culture and mentality that perpetuates in our country. We must change this mindset. Though this is for school leavers I believe it is an initiative in changing this mindset.” explained David.
Gateway Graduate School CEO Prashanth Chanmugam said, “The business diploma is internationally accredited. The degree and diploma programmes follow a practical framework where students can pursue their traditional academics and their passion in the humanities. The diploma will be similar to the first year of the undergraduate programme offered by the university of Adelaide,”said Chanmugam.
Professor Ingrid Day, a representative of University of Adelaide, elaborated about the university. “I believe this is an important partnership between the Gateway Graduate School, Soul Sounds Academy and Sri Lanka as a whole. It is also an important partnership between music and business, because I believe this is rather a unique degree programme. University of Adelaide is a prestigious university and the city of Adelaide is quite affordable in contrast to Melbourne and Sydney.
“We offer a range of subjects such as economics, finance, management, marketing, international business, general commerce and corporate finance. Our university also focuses on developing the soft skills of the students which is truly indispensable and lacking in the corporate world. Technology handles much of the technical work load of employees, but soft skills can never be replaced by technology. We want to mould students to be leaders, communicators, innovators and team players and I truly believe that having a humanity such as music as a minor would greatly enhance the personality and the vibrancy of the students and thereby make them more appealing to the job sector,”said Day.
Prof. A. M. Abeysekera, former Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science at Sri Jayewardenepura and Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka, said, “ I am very delighted that such an initiative is being taken by the organisations. I feel that our education system is very rigid. For instance if one wants to pursue sciences, he would be only confined to that stream. We have a very narrow perspective regarding education, which adversely affects the mindset of students. Our education has changed and certificates and qualifications are regarded as the most important,”said Abeysekera.
He also added that collaborating music and business would facilitate those who are interested in making a career in music and added that knowledge in both fields are required to be successful in the industry.