International Schools the bane of the national education system
Posted on June 26th, 2017

Sudath Gunasekara 26.5. 2017

Last week I had an electrician at my place to do a small job. Along with him he brought a young boy of 10 years to give him a helping hand. The man said the little one is his brother’s eldest son who is going to an International school. His father, I was told has no permanent job who meets his ends through casual jobs.

Thinking of the economic difficulties of the father first I asked my friend as to why the little one is not going to a government school. Then he said his brother, though it is very expensive to upkeep the child at the International School, wanted the child to go to an International school as he wished to give him an English education. I asked the boy in Sinhala his date of birth. He said sinhalen  kiyanta danne ne. Then I asked for his date of birth. He promptly replied. Now look at the plight of the younger generation going to the so- called international schools. Today I think we have more international schools than national schools in this country. I am told in these schools they don’t teach Buddhism or Sri Lankan history.

Their dress is international. Education is international. Manners international. They are taught to think internationally, behave as Englishmen. So overall they are completely different from the children going to Government schools in all respects. They are trained to appear for international tests and examinations. Children coming out of these schools do not know their country, they do not know their history, religion, customs and manners. In other words when they come out they are complete misfits to our society. If this is the generation that is going to take over the country tomorrow, I can’t imagine as to what is going to happen to the country. How long this country will remain as Sri Lanka. It will soon become a little England, what the British could not achieve for nearly 150 years.

A country’s education, apart from character building of its people, is expected to train its posterity to take over the future responsibilities of the country. For that every country has a national system of education certainly not an international education. It is needed at higher levels firstly, to deal with the outside world. Secondly, to take over the responsibilities of different fields in future to take the country forward. But they all must know their history culture and customs to protect their identity.

I remember these International schools were originally started in early 1970s, firstly, in Colombo and then in Kandy for the children of expatriates who were working on Development Projects like Victoria, Kotmale and in  diplomatic missions.

But later with the spread of the effects of the open economy these schools mushroomed all over the country. Factors like the failure on the part of the Governments to meet the needs of increasing school going population, newly flowing in black money and fancy expectations of the newly rich were responsible for the phenomenal rise of International schools. They all charge tuition and other fees. Their levels of education are often poor and roots are exogenetic. Most of the teachers are not trained. The concept of free education also went in to wilderness

It is true that this system provided employment opportunities for many younger people who could not find employment in the public sector, retired teachers who found it difficult to meet their ends due to  meager pensions and schools for children who could not find a school to go, lucrative business for the entrepreneurs.  It became a money spinner for them. These are the positive sides of this new venture. But the damage it does to a nation is beyond comprehension and irretrievable.

Therefore it is high time for the authorities to completely review the wisdom of this system. Either close them down before they completely ruin the future generation and finally the country or bring them under a consistent policy of national education by laying down strict rules and regulations and meticulous supervision. This subject needs a thorough study before one take any action to bring about reforms. It is even worthwhile appointing a Presidential Commission to go in to this mess with a view to finding a permanent or at least a viable solution to this national problem, before it becomes intractable.

I invite the immediate attention of experts in education who love this country to focus their highest attention to this problem

3 Responses to “International Schools the bane of the national education system”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Dear Sudath,

    I share your concerns and fears about what international schools are doing to create a generation of misfits unable to relate to our customs, language, history, and religion in our country. More dangerously, we are creating people who are not proud of their own people and their own Motherland, and in the end will not be imbued with the patriotism to help defend and protect Sri Lanka in the future.

    But there is a FLIP SIDE to this story. As you know, my wife and I adopt and help educate disad vantage children in Sri Lanka. We have found that the great majority of these children schooled in outstation government schools FAIL in English at the GCE O/L and do not have a working knowledge of written and spoken English. As such, they are SEVERELY DISADVANTAGED when in comes to securing a good job in the workplace and they cannot be upwardly mobile in life.

    I believe that a working knowledge of written and spoken English is ESSENTIAL, so I am sending my children for REMEDIAL TUITION CLASSES in English (and in fact ALL Science subjects) so they can cope with the modern English-based technology-driven society that has emerged today.

    How can we create a population conversant in both Sinhala and English that is simultaneously able to cope with the modern English-speaking high-technology world, and is permanently wedded to our incomparable Sinhala culture and Buddhist faith?

  2. Nimal Says:

    It is the best that will happen to our country that removes the frog in the well mentality. Are we then advocating bullock carts for transport?
    Let our young enjoy the best of the modern world and stepping stone to future elsewhere in the world. No one could stop progress.
    I may invest on a such a school which will make affordable for poor, only some pupils will be given that turn the clock back in the is unacceptable when some enjoy privileges in the countries of the colonial types. Not cricket, I say.

  3. Christie Says:

    මේ උතුමා තෙවන චෙදයෙන් විස්තර කරන මිනිහ කව්ද දන්නවද?.

    මිනිහට මම කියන්නෙ බන්ඩ කියල. සමහරු කියනව ඇස් ඩබ්ලිව් ආර් ඩී කියල්.

    එයා අපේ බටකොල ආහ්හිගේ (aachchigei) මහ එකා.

    Thanks Sudhath for sharing the story with us.

    I am very proud of this ten year old boy and that is the type of kids we need for our future.

    In the first place he was helping his uncle. How many 10 year olds do that today.

    Secondly he stood for himself by declining to answer in Sinhala though he understood your question. That is the way to learn and be proud of one self and practice what one learns.

    What we need is our schools to follow the International schools.

    Mahinda started what was left in 1956 by opening up a schools like an International School in Panagoda, Homagama. The language of instruction English and there was a language lab to study other popular languages like French.

    We are an Indian colony and I don’t think a Little England will fit.

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