Posted on August 22nd, 2023


Education reforms started in the 1930 under the State Council and such reforms were going on like a living organism to develop sound strategies for knowledge and skills development of kids. However, it could identify reforms not focused to inserting value education in the education system that was essential for changes in behaviour of kids.  As seen in other countries, education reforms in Sri Lanka were signifying as a supportive way to develop knowledge and skills of students in the competitive world. The fundamental aim of education reforms concerned with planning a quality education for learners during the schooling period, however, additional purposes related to reforms were focused for learning concerns with broader aspects, additionally to knowledge and skills development during the past several decades. Reforms needed to expand value education, but it has not been focused by reforming policymakers, most probably they may have not understood the concept of values in education.  Many times, reforms have been concerned with the essential purposes during the reforming period, and some instances they have become a question when considering the outcomes of reforms. The weak aspect of reforms was neglecting working skills development of upper secondary students.

When compare with the reforms in developed countries, reforms in Sri Lanka should have to focus on skills development and certifying skills of students in addition providing general education. Working skills development and certifying them should have focused reforming process after 1980s changes promoted finding employment in overseas. In Sri Lanka, parents have negative thinking that children should engage in office work, and skilled work is not appropriate for their kids, however, overseas employment was based on giving opportunities for skilled workers and parents should have to spend additional expenses for skills development.     

There were conflicting views on education reforms among academics as they were lack of knowledge and experience the nature of reforms required to the country. Many parents and students had neither concern nor a broader understanding nor future outcomes that based on skills. What should have given the priority of reforming process was not concerned of the community. It is seen that reforming policymakers had a lack of understanding about reforms that should be implemented in the country.  Vital question that should have asked from the education policymakers were the expected of benefits from the reforms. The focus of this writing is to stress for finding an effective solution to language issues, ethnic problems and school ranking of the country through education reforms.

What is the language issue? Originally, language issue came to the society of Sri Lanka as a way of politics of Tamil politicians, and later the language issue has been to broaden to ethnic problems, ethnic and teaching a second language, and further educating kids using different language media in schools. The language issue could have settled in the early 20th century, many Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim community leaders had displeased on educating poor kids in English medium, it was purely in a different attitude of them. The issue continued to modern era for politicians to argue and attract votes. Why such a situation arose as responsible personnel in Sri Lanka had not understood about reforms or they were ignorance in subject area and they were concerned about the competition between rich parent kids and poor kids. As a human being, all are equal, but this truth was not accepted by wealthy people. 

The effective and profitable solution to language issue was educating kids in three media, Sinhala, Tamil and English, from Grade one, and teaching Hindi and Mandarin as second languages. However, this requirement has not been considered by policymakers because they were lack of understanding on the future changes in the society and they may have concerned on the finding educators for different languages.

Many policymakers were lacking knowledge about the education environment. In many countries, reforming policymakers had a good understanding about the education environment, however, reformers in Sri Lanka were lack of knowledge in broader education policies. If the education system has been to broaden offering education in three media, it would have positively affected to disregard language issues in the country and to remove language issues from politics.

The cost of implementing a broader language teaching in educational reforms should have avoided gaining supports such as teachers, books and other supports from India and China, despite wasting and stealing foreign aids by politicians and their associates. If education reforms focused on a broader aspect, such as offering education in three media, Sinhala, Tamil and English, the language issues in the country could have been easily avoided and more skilled population would have in the country. I observed that many school principals and supervisors in rural schools did not concern about the dishonest way doing the job by second language teaching in rural schools, and I saw an English teacher in a rural school teaching Sinhala instead of teaching English language which was his prime duty.

The elected government in 1965 and the government in 1970 after the unsuccessful JVP uprising attempted to introduce vocational education, however, left political parties strongly opposed to reforms and the focus of education reforms pushed poor people to difficulties. As I studied originally in a poor school in a rural village, I noticed while studying in the school that English teachers were supported to refraining from teaching English and teachers were advised teach Sinhala subjects.   

School administrators in rural areas had unfair attitudes toward poor kids and they wanted to stick poor kids in traditional work than they are supported to change in demanding professions. Education policymakers knew this situation, but they wanted to continue it. If students in all schools from Grade one educated in three media, Sinhala, Tamil and English, language issues would have eliminated in the country.

The government has a ranking system for schools, despite the ranking parents have a ranking as excellent schools and poor schools. If schools offer contents in same syllabus document, in formal ranking was unreasonable and the government should have taken actions to eliminate such informal ranking and lacking quality inspection of schools has promoted the informal ranking and secret charges from parents to admit kids to schools. Many members of old boys’ and girls’ associations engage in corrupt practices such taking bribe for admitting a kid to schools. This type putrid practices cannot see in other countries.

 Why education reforms do not focus on eliminating corrupt practices?

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