EDUCATION REFORMS ESSENTIAL TO SRI LANKA (PART 2)-VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL MODELS OF DISTRIBUTION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE IN PROVIDING EDUCATION
Posted on December 16th, 2019

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Part one of this article focused on a basic requirement a Horizontal Model for Education Distribution in the country for education reforms.  The structure for the model for a million population irrespective of where the population has networked or distributed, whether in rural or urban area, the proposed model designed to apply in entire country. It is a horizontal distribution of education irrespectively whether population distributed in rural or urban areas or in wealthy suburbs or in poor people’s ghettos. Recent television programs in Sri Lanka disclosed that although the department of education has been operating in the country since State Council era, finding a school for kids has become the most difficult task to parent.  They should waste time and money for finding a school for kids despite the education considers a fundamental right of human.

The major reason for this predicament seems that distributing more resources for urban schools in the process of education distribution and neglecting rural and semi urban areas.  Current education provision is a vertical distribution which means less than one million population in certain areas, many schools have established and they are based on nationality or religion or wealth, more than the requirement of population while large volume of population in outer Colombo and suburbs have less schools with less resources. A vertical distribution can be defined as giving more schools and resources to small area distributing upward. This situation could be eliminated only if the distribution of education makes horizontally, which forces the government to distribute schools and more resources to larger areas in rural Sri Lanka. Vertical distribution of education in the country is based on colonial attitudes, which has created many issues in education provision to the community and its principle seems against social justice. However, recent statement to press by Mr. Dallas Alahapperuma and Mr. Ramesh Pathirana clearly stated that national schools will be increased to 1000 from current 374, which means the acceptance of a horizontal model of education distribution. It is the social justice expected by people.

For example, if it gets Kotahena or Bambabalapitity or Madadana or Kollupitiya or Borella area, many schools have located in such areas for more than needed to the population actually living in the area whilst it is observable that no schools for kids in rural and semi-urban areas to gain education confirming to social justice.  Locating too many schools to urban areas have also created problems such as daily movement of people in urban towns (Including Colombo), where generate motor and human traffic issues and daily movement of too many people incur cost to the government demanding more controls and facilities. The system incurs more expenses to Individuals expenses such as bus fee, pocket money for kids, accompanying persons with kids and many other expenses. It seems that people daily move from outer suburbs to Colombo metro area for schooling purpose than productive or trading purposes. Education must be a service that provides in residential area. It cannot not justify moving from far away to gain educational services and kids have additional pressure to concentrate on activities that are not related education. 

I observed that some parent daily sends kids from Dankotuwa to Bambalapitiya for schooling, when I ask why it is happening, parent replied the reason to educate English, kids send far away.  English is a communication media like other languages in the world whether it leans in Dankotuwa or in Bambalapitiya it shouldn’t reflect a difference.  There may be a difference in accent, but it cannot be changed by teachers in Colombo schools. If a person can communicate in English, he or she must be able understand the message and give messages whether communicator learn English in the UK or in the USA, or in the East European countries or the Middle Eastern countries, or India, South Africa or in China or Japan.  This is myth in Sri Lanka about English in Colombo which is different from English in other places. I observed that many kids studied in Colombo so-called superior schools cannot properly communicate in English Language and many policy makers and university educators in Sri Lanka are from regional areas. 

Parent can save lots of money if schools located close to homes.  This has been a problem for more than seventy years and the policy has not been corrected and now the education authority has a dogma as schools cannot relocate and the possible solution is opening new schools or upgrading schools in rural areas injecting more resources to them while reducing resources in schools of Colombo and suburbs.

Various allegorical acceptance have involved in searching for popular schools although the education is a qualitative substance despite where kids were educated and Sri Lanka’s environment has not changed to disregard points such as the school educated, who were teachers or any other allegorical points when selecting for jobs, for higher education and social acceptance if the person has required level of education and quality.  The government needs launching a campaign against mythical views rooted in the society and make equity and justice for the quality of education irrespective of where it was obtained. This is a discrimination related issue and the government needs considering anti-discrimination laws like in Western countries, if any citizen has quality education, he/she must not be subjected to discrimination based on a point from where education was obtained.  It is a rubbish if it considers to give priority for stupid points considering from where the education obtained, when selecting for a job. 

Current education policy of the country has not organized the way given in the proposed horizontal model and some areas of the country have many educational institutions while rural or regional Sri Lanka is not consist of education institutions to accommodate students in the area or sometimes, there is no enough education institutions and resources to provide basic education to the community. This is a major disparity of existing education policy management and the proposed model indicated in part one could be used to each one million population without differences whether population located in urban or rural area.  The model will bring equality in education distribution for people considering equity and justice equal opportunity without differences in gender, religion, regional, ethnic, language or any other such as where people networked in urban or rural areas.

After the acceptance of the proposed model for education distribution, it is necessary to address current major problems, which are associated with the past decision making in the existing system.  The issues are varied and a considerable volume of young generation consider that they have difficulties entering to job market or higher education or skill training.  The major point raised associated with issues such as wrong choice of study area, field, trade area or any other resulting unemployment. Bridging current unemployed graduates at university or higher education level or in any context of education to develop employable knowledge and skills or go to further education and training is an urgent requirement of education reforms. Kids had to encounter such problems not only because faults of them but also a problem within the education system, which has no guidance at school level to achieve ambitions and compare the ambition with economic environment. For this problem, parent, teachers as well as government policy makers are equally responsible.

Education and training could be widely used to solve the problem without creating any disadvantage to any person. However, the sensitive environment in Sri Lanka provokes attitudes of young generation pointing unrealized effects and the policy makers need to understand this sensitive environment, which is associated with politics. In the past, various steps took to reform curriculum structure in schools since 1960s, but it was failed and the major reason for the failure was politics and creating a wrong mental psychosis on the mind of people by politicians without understanding the timely needs and future requirements. 

The report of Prof Dudley Seers in late 1960s (Matching Employment Expectation and Opportunities: A Program Action for Ceylon) clearly indicated the requirement of curriculum reforms and the government effort was bog down by politics.  Therefore, when making education reforms, the government must not forget the traditional Sinhala saying if you go with knowing can reach Kataragama, travelling without knowing the way would leave you in the lurch”

The reforms in curriculum, teaching, training and flexibility in education could be used to eliminate the many problems in current environment. Looking at education in many countries Sri Lanka’s education could be expressed or firmly stated the exactly the right way, despite many opinions on educations especially curriculum reforms in schools.  It is dependent on the future economic opportunities and trend of the job market and innovative features in other countries. This situation should be worked together with a view to solve problems, which were generated as results of past and continuing decisions.

With the given structure curriculum reforms is a broader aspect that eliminate unnecessarily aligning students to specific area of education such as science, commerce and arts.  Many Western countries allow students to learn arts, science and commerce together and sometimes to select other pathways in health, engineering, agriculture, services, sports, and many other areas. In Australia, universities allow students to complete double degrees like Medicine and law or political science and arts, psychology etc. University education policy needs rapid changes and when students selected a study area, they should take the responsibility for selection and the university administration should give wider choices, however, current university management seems that they failed to give wider choices for students.     

Curriculum reforms would direct to solve current major problems and it needs including key knowledge and skills education (value, health, environment and language education).  Sri Lanka has many religions, but the behaviour of followers is not consistent with the policies of religions. It seems that religion has become a symbol and religion is not working in homes or workplaces or in the society.  In this situation curriculum reforms need focus to offer value education in all educational contexts.  In Western countries, value education is key in practical knowledge and application.  For example, care and compassion are vital values which means care for self and others.  In any education context, safety is a value, which broadly apply any subject area and when value education included, the behavioural pattern of students dramatically changed and the quality of knowledge and skills improve with a higher demand for knowledge and skills.

Value, health, environment and language education must be co area from primary education to university education and the university management has failed consider these area and next vital fact is university and TVET system in the country has no proper curriculum evaluation system, which is essential to perform once in two years. It is expensive and expert services demand for successful evaluation. When students learn a subject at school level, or technical or university level, the nature of outcomes achieved after learning neither students, nor parent not teachers nor employers have idea. 

Next part will be in curriculum and teaching reforms.

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