Inadequacies Of Sri Lankan Education System
This column dedicated to the fulfillment of the aspirations of Sri Lankan society, turns its spotlight on some inadequacies in the Sri Lankan education system as Sri Lankan society would aspire for an efficient education system in Sri Lanka.
The media reported last week that The Supreme Court refused a motion filed by the Higher Education Ministry seeking the appointment of a commission to formulate a new Z score system in respect of selecting students to universities based on the GCE (A- L) examination results.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice Dr Shirani A. Bandaranayake and Justices K. Sri Pavan and Nimal Gamini Ameratunge.
The petition filed by 17 petitioners including the Ceylon Teachers’ Union said the common formula applied to calculate the Z score is irrational, unjustifiable, arbitrary and discriminatory as two entirely different classes of candidates have been treated equally.
Furthermore the first, second and third respondents have failed to apply the statistical method of Z score in a scientifically and mathematically acceptable manner to select students to universities.
The petition will be called again on June 30. Due to this action the students who were to commence their leadership training program had to face a further delay before they could be admitted to the Universities.
It was Crestoper William Wijeyekoon Kannangara or C. W. W. Kananagara, as he was popularly known, a lawyer, politician and the first Minister of Education in the State Council of Ceylon who was instrumental in introducing extensive reforms to the country’s education system that opened up education to children from all levels of society.
As Minister of Education in the State Council, Kannangara introduced extensive reforms to the education system of Sri Lanka throughout the 1940s.
Those reforms benefitted thousands of underprivileged students in rural parts of the country by making education free for all students. He also began a central schools scheme, which established high quality secondary schools in rural areas of the country.
Kannangara’s significant achievements in areas of education have led him to being commonly referred to as the Father of Free Education in Sri Lanka.
In the 1960s the then Senior School Certificate (SSC) Examination was renamed the Ceylon General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (Cey. GCE O/L)and the Higher School Certificate (HSC)Examination was renamed the Ceylon General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (Cey. GCE A/L) and the contents of the syllabuses were revised.
In those days there was no necessity for students sitting for these examinations to seek the help of tutors as the teachers managed to complete the syllabuses assigned to the subjects during normal school hours in their class rooms.
As time passed with the advancement of knowledge especially in the science stream in subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology the areas usually covered in the Universities were gradually pushed down into the syllabuses at the Advanced Level and the areas formerly covered at the Advanced Level were pushed back in to the Ordinary Level syllabus thereby making the content unwieldy and the class teachers were unable to cover the entire syllabus satisfactorily during normal school hours. As the Examinations became extremely competitive with increasing numbers sitting for these examinations large numbers of tutors were able to find lucrative avenues of income by conducting tuition classes.
The rates were anything from Rs.1,500 to Rs. 500 per hour for home visits. One of the Cabinet Ministers and the Member of Parliament supervising the Ministry of Education are persons who have amassed immense wealth from this practice. They may not wish to change the system that has served them handsomely. The students have no time for recreational activities with the load of material they are required to retain in their memories and these examinations have become a terrible burden on these youngsters. In addition the incompetence and/or negligence of duty by the Ministers in charge and the high officials of the Ministry of Education as evidenced by the recent blunder on the Z scores have made life a veritable hell for our children.
While concentrating on introducing private universities and making profits the Government disregards the urgent need to re-formulate the syllabuses particularly in the science stream making it manageable for the suffering student population of Sri Lanka .
The education system must introduce subject content more oriented towards producing graduates who are employable in various fields such as information technology, computer science and other areas where there is a need for qualified persons rather than producing hordes of graduates who have no demand in the job market.
These frustrated disgruntled unemployed graduates are easily used by the disruptive elements who wish to destabilize the state. The leadership programme further helps such elements as such graduates who pass out of universities have obtained a preliminary military training as well.
It is time that honurable respectable efficient statesmen of the calibre of that great selfless gentleman C. W. W. Kananagara are appointed as Cabinet Ministers in charge of education who are not interested in making profits for themselves to serve the student population of our land. But alas do such gentlemen exist today? It is to be noted that our universities such as the University of Colombo are maintaining high standards of education as it has been ranked the 8th best among the Universities in the World.
There was an article on peer group based self learning concept published in the Daily News of 29th May 2012 written by the Additional Director of the Technical College, Galle which introduced a new concept in self learning techniques which appear to be very useful to the student population of our land which if properly practiced would give rise to the reduction of the necessity to obtain tuition which has become a burden on the purses of the wage earning parents. As usual let me conclude with an amusing anecdote. Two young men who had just graduated from a university climbed into a taxi wearing their graduation gowns. “Are you graduates from the city university?” asked the driver.
”Yes,” they announced proudly ”Class of 2012”. The taxi driver extended his hand “Class of ’69.”