CURRICULUM AND TEACHING REFORMS ESSENTIAL TO SRI LANKA PART 1
Posted on January 31st, 2020

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Curriculum and Teaching reforms would be the most considerable area in the education reforms process of Sri Lanka and the quality of education will be dependent on the success of the curriculum and teaching process. This is the secrecy that the success of education in Western countries.  Parents of Sri Lanka wish to send kids for education to Western countries as the expectations of them could not be achieved in the current education system and economic opportunities in Sri Lanka too limited for educated youth the education has not organized to relate with economic plans. The curriculum and teaching have not disposed to support economic development. It needs to understand that education and economic development are variable with higher positive correlation.  

If Sri Lanka’s education system well organized to achieve the best quality and attract foreigners to education it is proved that no point sending kids overseas for education.  The current practice in Sri Lanka shows that sending kids for education in overseas generate cost to country absorbing country’s foreign exchange and finally educated and trained people sending to developed countries out of the cost of Sri Lanka. Indirectly this environment polarizes the society as foreign educated people and locally educated people.

Sometimes, kids in Western countries will come to Sri Lanka for education if the quality of education, the education system supports the expectation of foreigners, the cost of education substantially lesser than the Western countries. The truth is that Sri Lanka has not been to practically maintained all these factors as the fiscal capacity of the country is limited.

There are arguments among education experts in Western countries about their education policies. Either Sri Lankans or many people in overseas have no idea about this arena and blindly believe that the best education system exists in the West.  The major reason to this perception is the offer of education is based on research and many education philosophers such as John Dewey and Charles Sanders Pierce contributed philosophical insights to change the education practice in the West.  Education policy makers in Sri Lanka are neither highly regarded philosophers nor they are good researchers in the field but political supporters of the ruling government and they have no good experience to determine curriculum and teaching applicable to the country. What kind of education should be gained by kids is based on individual preference and ambition, which are concerned with many factors.

When it talks about education the most popular term that goes along with the word education is the curriculum. No matter which context of education talking about curriculum is a vital term to education.  It clearly seems that no education exists without organized curriculum in the modern era. When parents are selecting a school for kids, when matured students selecting a program in a TVET institution or in a university the priority is to investigate or research what sort of curriculum is being offered by the school or TVET institution or the university for educational programs.  Sometimes, it has a feeling that a curriculum is an ever-emphasized term in schools or in society.  Now workplaces also concern about the curriculum learned at schools by employees.  Therefore, it is very clear that the curriculum has a different meaning to different people or organizations and curriculum is the strongest source of knowledge and skills to learners.

The curriculum would be specialized education or training or a source of education and the way of gaining education to different people.  The traditional school system in Sri Lanka, curriculum for exams such as G.C.E. (Ordinary Level) and G.C.E. (Advance Level) had a homogeneous choice in nature and it created issues in the dynamic world as kids had not been supported by school’s curriculum to achieve life expectations such as finding a job. The school administration has not authority to develop school curriculum and the authority of tertiary institutions also very limited.

Curriculum and teaching give impression that it is over-emphasis area in education, the truth regarding education in Sri Lanka, it is less accentuated area in education and after independence many attempts made for changes, but they were not successful achieving expectations of stakeholders. The contributing factor for the failure was lack of experience in how to change curriculum and lack of understanding the strategies that should be used in a complex society for curriculum developments, presentation and teaching methods used in schools illustrating in the national curriculum documents.  In addition to policy in the destitution of knowledge and practical skills gaining from curriculum and teaching, the failure of reforms also contributed to weak curriculum and teaching in Sri Lanka.

Reformists did not educate the public on the essential changes and they haven’t had effective alternative strategies if the reform process would turn to a fiasco and what would be remedial actions to correct mistakes, were not pre-planned by policy makers.  This means that there was not a successful monitoring process to identify weaknesses in policy implementation in the education field. When I was in primary school, I can remember curriculum and teaching methods began to change and give some values to TVET curriculum in Primary education under leadership of Minister Irriagolla, but such a positive change was abandoned as the left politics attempted to use positive changes to discreet it.

Curriculum and teaching are interrelated features in education and practically working together. The success of the curriculum would be achieved on the effectiveness of teaching methods that apply to teach the curriculum in schools. Ornstein and Hunskins (1988) expressed that curriculum as a field of study is elusive and fragmentary and what it is supposed to entail is open to a good deal of debate and even misunderstanding.” Therefore, it is required to clearly understand the meaning of curriculum within the context of education level or area.  Ornstein and Hunskins (1988) further expressed that curriculum approach reflects a holistic position encompassing the foundation of curriculum (the philosophy, view of history, view of psychology, learning theories and view of social issues), domain of curriculum (Common and Important knowledge within the field) and theoretical and practical principles of curriculum.

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