WASTING FUNDS FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP EXAMINATION AND THE REQUIREMENT OF SPENDING FUNDS FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF TEACHER QUALITY
Posted on October 19th, 2020

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

The scholarship examination has become a stressful test for parents, teachers, students, and the government.  Many people in the country say it is an examination of parents as the interest of parents is greater than students take the test. Generally, the test may be a method of determination of the competitive quality of school administrators, teachers, and students. Has the test been used to evaluate the human rights of people, and to correct the issue in the country to giving justice to poor people? When I look at the conducting of the scholarship examination various points of view come to my mind. The examination has been conducting since the 1950s, however, education policy-makers have not learned vital lessons that are related to the human rights of rural people, and the changing requirement of education distribution of the country to give justice to rural people.    

The indirect acceptance of the government that education distribution should be equal and the right of gaining good education is only to students selected for the test that is harmful to ensuring the human rights of the country.   Education distribution in a country may have inherent problems that are not the responsibility of education providers. Not any country in the world has an acceptance that good education should be provided only to learners, who are selected from a test. (the idea may be a colonial inheritance).  The education policy is set within a line that education should be provided to all learners without any differences or discrimination. For example, in developed nations such as Australia, the USA, and Canada, all students without any difference, subject content, method of teaching, and assessment of students are accommodated equally, despite many issues that exist relating to resource availability and others. The evidence in Sri Lanka shows that the government of Sri Lanka breaches human rights by providing education to chosen students from a test and transferring selected students to so-called big schools in the urban area.

Education regards as a human right and it is a right like breathing to each person. I understood from the experience in this year students that learners from privileged classes who are attending Big schools also participated in the scholarship exam to deplete the opportunity of poor students in rural and small schools in urban areas.  For example, a media person in Sri Lanka stated that he transferred the school from Panadura Sumangala College to Royal College through a tactic of the Scholarship examination. 

In Sri Lanka, the human right, the right to gain education is distributed by the government in an unreasonable way that is discriminating against the poor in the country. In this sense, it seems that the scholarship examination widely uses to give partial justice for a long period from the day of beginning the scholarship examination.  The government spent a large sum of funds for the administration of the examination. Parents spent more money on the preparation of kids for the scholarship examination attending outside tuition classes.  Such a huge volume of funds could have been channeled to give justice to all rural people if the government spent funds to improve the quality of rural schools.    

Why such a test is required to select students for better schools if education is a fundamental right of people, in other words, this test is conducted Island-wide to ensure that human rights (gaining equal education) of all students and students passed from the scholarship examination are the right people to enjoy human rights. Many developed countries use scholarship examinations in private schools to wave school fee payments for poor kids. In Australia, lower-income earning parents are given an allowance for education spending.   From this point of view on education distribution, rural people have been violated the right to gain a good education and this human right is distributed only for a particular group of people (students those who passed the examination). The serious question to be asked is those who failed from the scholarship examination have no right to enjoy human rights (right to gain quality education) that are considered as a fundamental bedrock without discriminating anyone in the world.

Before the 20th century, the scholarship exam may have contributed to the improvement of education quality of kids of lower-income earning parents, however, the situation has been changed by the shift of politics in the country as the attraction of votes to political parties became a critical factor that depending on the level of spending for rural schools. The governments elected in the 20th century understood the critical factor that was determined to spend more money on rural schools.

What is the main purpose of the scholarship examination and when direct the question to stakeholders of education many of them answer that it is supported to find a national school for poor rural kids?  The answer raises several questions. Are existing schools in the rural area not national schools or they are lower graded schools? What are the reasons to create a difference between national schools and rural schools? Did policymakers concentrate on issues and attempt to eliminate differences?  The general purpose of an examination is the classification of participants and on what criteria the participants of the scholarship examination used is not crystal clear to stakeholders, if anyone asks a question from a stakeholder, the obvious answer to finding a better school for participants of the examination.  The critical disclosure from the answer is the school currently attending is not a good school and why such a conclusion that cannot be interpreted by stakeholders.

Many apprehensions have been contributed to lower quality in rural schools in Sri Lanka since the beginning of free education. The major reason contributed is the quality of educators and the policymakers have not bothered the issue.  Many countries have attempted to improve teacher quality using various criteria and strategies. Since the 1930s the major strategy for improving teacher quality has been confirmed by training teachers from time to time.  Teaching quality means improvement of planning and organizing skills of teachers and later presentation skills also took into consideration. By the teacher training programs (Certificate programs, B.Ed programs, Diploma programs, and postgraduate programs), educating, training, and testing teacher quality were concentrated not in required level and the techniques used by teacher educators remained in a limited area because teacher education institutions (Training Colleges and universities) were in a difficult situation to afford.

The improvement of the quality of a teacher could be improved by limiting learners to 20 students in a class.  This type of class teacher can maintain a closer relationship with students and make individual attention to students according to development needs.  While this situation is obvious from the practical experience in Sri Lanka spending a large sum of money on the scholarship examination is wasting resources and discriminating against the human rights of rural students in so-called lower-grade schools.

I observed that teaching in schools is a stressful job for educators in the regional area and the stress seems negatively impacts the ability to role-playing teachers and the result too displays the lowering of the quality of service. The Minister of Education, Prof. G.L Peiris has admitted with journalists that the majority of graduates in the teaching profession do not have professional qualification in teaching (Sunday Observer, 18.10.2020). This has been a significant issue in teacher quality in schools and the government policymakers have not made bull’s eye on this matter and developed policy action to the improvement of teacher quality and training them while they are performing the work role in regional schools. The fund wasting for the scholarship examination could be diverted to the teacher quality improvement. Graduate teachers may have better content knowledge in teaching subjects, but they are lacking planning, organizing, presentation, and assessing knowledge and skills.  Many graduate teachers have no understanding of what is a lesson plan, how to organize and present a lesson to achieve outcomes of the curriculum document, and how to present a lesson in the classroom consistent with the lesson plan to achieve outcomes of the lesson. Lesson evaluation after the presentation and expressing the outcomes that should be achieved by students while learning in the classroom doesn’t write on the board by teachers at the beginning of a lesson.

The government of Sri Lanka needs to spend a large sum of funds for the improvement of teacher quality. Many parents spend a large sum of money on tuition as the role of the teacher in rural schools appear to be not playing up to the required level, and policymakers can tremendously improve the quality of education in rural schools not promoting to change the schools by the scholarship examination.

Many parents in rural schools pursue changing schools because English skills (Reading, writing, and speaking) of students in rural skills remain at a lower level. Teachers in rural schools have not trained to provide English skills to rural kids in rural schools.  If the government spends more money for this purpose the current situation could be changed.                

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