How far is the Sri Lankan Education authorities contributing to the decline of Education in Sri Lanka?
Posted on October 24th, 2014

Shenali D Waduge

From the day a child is born parents rich or poor think of how to bring up their bundle of joy and how to educate him/her. Time, effort and lots of money is spent to educate one’s children at every level upto higher education. Children are thus expected to study and take their potential to greater heights. Education authorities on their part are expected to ensure that the education of the country at every level takes place in a seamless, uncorrupt and strategic way in order to mould the future assets of Sri Lanka. None of this is possible when children do not engage in what they are supposed to be doing and authorities turn a blind eye or add to the malady.

Allegations of corruption in school admission

  • Includes bribery from principal downwards in admitting students to school and takes place islandwide. Apart from a few arrests it is known news that government schools and semi-government schools all indulge in this practice and to cover up illegal donations the old girls/boys are now issuing receipts for ‘donations’ to admit children to schools. So we are experiencing corruption right from the start and it is no wonder that children with years find corruption part and parcel of daily life in Sri Lanka. The question is does the education authorities have a solution or have they thought of ways to address this?

Allegations against international schools

  • Allowed to function as private companies, what has the State authorities done to curtail or control the lack of power for Education authorities over international schools? If it is a question of legislative measures only required to bring all schools functioning as private companies under the State education, the question is why are legislative measures not been taken?
  • When it was recently reported in the newspapers that an international school has introduced a subject taught to grade 4 students called ‘what if your mother brought a boyfriend home’ what is the response or is the Sri Lankan education authorities able to respond to such anti-social scenarios?

Allegations of content correctness in textbooks

  • Is there a competent Government body that looks into the text books taught at every grade in every type of school – Government, Semi-Government, Private, International and does the education authorities have a ‘MUST’ list for all subjects so that in looking through every textbook the authorities have a checklist on what needs to be included under every subject for every grade – this is to ensure that the fundamentals and theory of a subject do not get drowned in whims and fancies and ideologies of those writing the texts. Does this competent Government, if it does exist regularly evaluate school text books at every grade and across Government-Private-International school level?
  • How far have the Education authorities looked at scenarios where education is subtly used to brainwash the minds of school children and remove them from establishing their identity with the nation? There have been allegations of how NGOs and UN officials have tried to coerce education in Third World developing nations to include subject matter where the education texts are framed to create multicultural children minus any pride in the country’s history, heritage or indigenous cultures and values which long term enables the destabalizing operators the ability to penetrate these individuals who will not feel any love for the country in order to defend it. Only those that take pride in the history and heritage of a country desires to protect it against those wanting to take over the country. Children taught not to feel part of Sri Lanka will not mind whoever takes over the country and rules it so long as they can live comfortably.

Tuition

  • The tuition menace is nothing that is likely to stop. Even a 5year old is now sent for tuition. The fees range from Rs.500 per month for a group class to Rs.3000 an hour individual – tax free. Tuition classes are held in homes, in rented areas while there are massive tuition classes where children can see the teacher only through a massive screen and hear the lesson over speakers. Calculate how much parents spend on a daily, weekly, monthly basis towards tuition!
  • Why have parents turned to tuition? It is because the parents are not satisfied with what the education authorities offer? With poor quality teachers, substandard textbooks and content that is faulty it is natural for parents who want to give the best of education to seek alternate measures. Whether tuition meets this requirement is a separate question because tuition itself is simply a commercial gain for the teachers who end up making an additional tax free profit. Shouldn’t the authorities have addressed this strategically and upgraded their systems, introduced novel ways to challenge the tuition. All is not lost still. All teachers are not bad, there are some very good teachers still but their inputs are never taken to evaluate how schools could upgrade their teaching styles. A child does not need tuition. If the lesson is taught well and the child is engaged and his curious mind is kept fed with proper information and he is guided properly the school hours is ample for his education. Parents can then spend the money they currently spend on tuition to indulge their children in vocational courses for a child taught to do something creative will benefit much

The pervert Principal and Teachers

  • Why is the education authorities slow in taking action against principals and teachers caught sexually abusing school children?
  • Does the authorities feel they owe any special treatment towards principals and teachers found guilty? Do we need such people to continue in service knowing that they are likely to cause misery to the lives of more children not to mention the agony to parents and families of abused children?

Ragging – will it ever be solved?

  • The question of ragging has been going on for far too long. What have authorities done about it? Why not suspend or cancel the admission of the king raggers and that will send a big message to all others.
    Parents do not send their children to be subject to bodily harm, no parent would want their child to end up taking his/her life because she/he cannot tolerate the humiliations they have to face. True university education means education not just in books …however the type of ragging students are subject to is not what anyone can learn lessons from unless it is discontinued on the ground that it does not teach any lessons if continued.

University politics – kick out the trouble makers and political parties operating inside universities

  • Students do not enter universities to do politics. There is time for that. Politics as a subject does not mean causing a menace to society and disrupting their own education as well as that of others.
  • What have the authorities done about throwing out all political parties that are indulging in ruining in the lives of university students by using them as scapegoats and guinea pigs for their election propaganda.
  • Students must study the fundamentals of subjects, they must conceptualize the subjects taught – they do not enter universities to make demands upon politicians or take to the streets and destroy public property because their political demands on behalf of political parties are not met.
  • If students are indulging in politics without concentrating on what they should be doing, all such students need to be given ultimatums and chucked out of university or allowed to continue their studies as external students. Students that are disruptive and are cause for creating mayhem should be given a suspension and ultimatums. Warnings given and punitive actions taken by university authorities will reduce to a great extent the problems that prevail in universities.
  • Students themselves must be made to understand that they owe to their parents to study and make a name for themselves instead of allowing themselves to be roped in by political parties who do not wish to see them educated because when students are not educated it is a bonus for them. The slogans against English education, private education etc are nothing but slogans for the survival of political parties. What harm is there in learning English when students should know that English is required.

What about the lecturers?

  • There are allegations that lecturers are poor quality, they do not update themselves, they favour students, they expect special attention in order to raise grades, they are always on education scholarships, some are retired but still drawing state salaries, some don’t come to teach but still draw salaries… the list of complaints by students against university lecturers are many and this contributes in large measure to the poor quality of students that eventually graduate. Poor quality teachers + poor quality teaching methods + no evaluation and monitoring of systems = Poor quality graduates. The logic is very simple. The same formula applies to primary and secondary education as well. Politicians with little education to back their decisions think that handing over appointment letters to anyone and everyone during election campaigns can win the elections but eventually the country suffers. The teachers cant teach, the children hate their teachers and the quality of educated children drop while the tuition teachers have a field day charging upto Rs.3000 an hour tax free too.

In most countries a special place is given to education because countries realize that the assets of the country are its children and for children to become future leaders they need the right education backed with good upbringing taught by parents through the values and ethical habits taught at home. We hesitate to even imagine that segments of politicians in Sri Lanka be they in opposition or government prefer an uneducated lot of children and youth solely because it benefits their political parties in using them as slogans and guinea pigs.

Nevertheless what is needed is not armchair advisors enjoying all the perks and privileges from the State but people who are genuinely concerned with a vision and a passion to create a system that would enhance the education of our youth, bring up the infrastructure of schools and universities using funds wisely, upgrade facilities and provide a valuable education that would rejuvenate the country’s assets. We need to completely restructure the education system and it should start with an analysis of the current problems that prevail, the immediate and long term plans that can be proposed for change and a proper plan on what exactly we want to achieve. What it essentially means is that no group of people can incorporate their own political ideologies or the agendas of other countries or parties that fund them. Therefore, the State needs to pick a competent, uncorrupt and nationalist set of people to steer the evaluation of Sri Lanka’s education system.

Shenali D Waduge

4 Responses to “How far is the Sri Lankan Education authorities contributing to the decline of Education in Sri Lanka?”

  1. Christie Says:

    The country has two systems of education. One System that the writer is talking about and another for the Indian colonial parasites.

  2. douglas Says:

    The education policy and system since of late has fallen into very low levels and no one is able to envisage what the future of the country would be. This is purely because the people who are entrusted with responsibility are more thinking of “Political Glorification” rather than “Building the Future of the country”. The situation is so bad, all types of “corruption”, “mismanagement” have crept in and we see it growing day in and day out. The parents, the Children, the teachers are all in a very confused state and we can all of them drifting in various directions trying each one’s best to get the best out of a collapsing system. How do we correct this situation and give credence to a good system of educating our younger generation who are to take over as our “Guardians”.

    1. We all know and would admit this “Menace” of the “TUITION SYSTEM” must go. The children from Grade 5 to A Level spent more time in these Tuition Shops than in their respective schools. Why, because the schools and the teaching staff are not doing their part WELL. If the teachings in school are done PROPERLY and COMPREHENSIVELY, is there a need to attend to these “Tuition Shops”. Absolutely NOT. So must be done?

    2. By law these “TUITION SHOPS” must be made ILLEGAL and ABOLISHED. Then how are we to get the school teachers to work towards “Complete” and “comprehensive” performance of their “duty” and the “job”?

    3. The teachers must be “EVALUATED” and “ASSESSED” on their PERFORMANCE measured in terms of “Student Performance” at examinations. Their gradings, promotions, salary increments etc. must be geared to well planed and measured PERFORMANCE EVALUATION SYSTEM. To do perform their duty and the job well what “tools” and “facilities” must be made available?

    4. All the schools must be categorized as “Preliminary”; “Middle” and “Higher” based on the age of admissions and promotions from grade to grade. These three categories must be appropriately, staffed, equipped and facilitated as per the requirement of each category. All such categories of schools in all parts of the country must be equally treated. This will get rid of this very damaging concept of “POPULAR SCHOOLS” and one more added viz: “MAHINDODAYA”. These concepts that have been embedded in the minds of the parents and children have led to all corruption in the society. If all schools are made EQUAL and PERFORMANCES are monitored to DELIVER the BEST RESULTS; why should there be a STRUGGLE to get the children to a POPULAR or MAHINDYODAYA admitted?There ends the corruption and brought in the performance that are result oriented.

    Next comes the SUBJECTS to be taught. At Preliminary and Secondary levels, every student must be made competent in, Maths, Languages (both national Snhala & Tamil AND most preferably English), Civics, History, Geography, Health & Hygiene and at the Higher Level, get them to spread to appropriately visible and identified talented streams.

    Next important subject dealt by the writer is the “University Education”. This MENACE of “POLITICAL STUDENT AFFILIATIONS must be STOPPED. Each university must permit ONLY ONE STUDENT SOCIETY and that should not be allowed to be controlled by political parties, whether of Government or opposition. The student society must be made an integral part of the administration of the university and the representatives must be tasked with responsibilities of “welcoming the new comers”, “inducting the new comers to the main stream”, “helping and assisting the students in their studies, welfare, and other activities such as sports, arts and drama etc. The Student Society must be a “RECOGNIZED INSTITUTION” in the day to day “ADMINISTRATION” of the University and such representations must be DULY RECOGNIZED and APPRECIATED.

    I have “SEEN” and “EXPERIENCED” the above process and possibly in a relevant moment it will be stated in detail.

  3. callistus Says:

    Douglas good comment . It is happening. May not be in my time though. Be patient. Also students must be taught to develop the skill of thinking. They must read Edward de Bono, the inventor of ‘lateral thinking, and the rest.

  4. AnuD Says:

    IMF and world bank are all American institutions.

    they wanted education to be privatized where ever they lend money.

    Politicians may be silent as their children are attending foreign universities.

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