31 October, 2020

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Do We Really Enjoy Free Education In Sri Lanka ? 

By Sarath Wijesinghe

Sarath Wijesinghe

Sarath Wijesinghe

Education is a process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values to the other generation. Education is a fundamental Right expected to be enjoyed by every citizen guaranteed in the Sri Lankan Constitution and many parts of the world. Absolute freedom of education is not found anywhere in the world including Sri Lanka. Parents give preference and priority to educate their children as an investment and for the future of their children, family, and the country. Education process in Sri Lanka is aimed and geared at the University education which is a process inherited from the colonial past, replacing the traditional “Pirivana” Education with a history of 2300 years. University Education in many countries has transformed to be the Centre of Excellence in the Nation linking education, employment generation, and development in all sectors. Privinana” education was linked to culture with international links with the Buddhist world, primarily around the village. There were world renewed Universities in India and Sri Lanka thousands of years ago with links with Educational Institutions in Far East and West. Current Education system consists of primary, secondary, tertiary, University, Private, and Fee Levying, education channels including private universities.

Unfortunately the Education system is not given due place in Si Lanka, despite our nation being a country of Agriculture and Technology requires technology and technical education for the prosperity and development. World has changed and fast changing in the education sector except Sri Lanka, still holding on to the colonial traditions and practices. Underemployment and unemployment is rising drastically – especially among the young and the village expecting white collar jobs in the public sector in any capacity to work less and seek more privileges with future/job security, While 10% of the population consist of lazy and inefficient government servants demanding more and more perks and enhanced salaries. Graduate youth including monks demand teaching appointments or any other jobs in the government sector. Arts graduates are in a miserable situation without competency of a foreign language/English and Information Technology which is a passport for employment in the private sector. Sri Lankan Gradates in universities are of the view that it is the duty of the Government to provide them with employment, which never happens anywhere in the world. Students are given free education from the kindergarten and it is their responsibility to find employment or transforms to be independent entrepreneurs, innovators or engaged in business and trade. Recent trend of parents with some means is to educate children in mushroom private schools spared countrywide with no standards and supervision from the Ministry of Education.

Rate of literacy in Sri Lanka is around 94%, and English is spoken could be around 4% with lot of potential and demand from all sectors to learn and practice out of sheer necessity to keep pace with the modern trends in business and trade. General IT literacy is improving with 30% population with the basic knowledge with of mobile phone users exceeding the population increasing the use rapidly despite vat and increases of prices by multimillion mobile companies thriving. A substantial portion of the income of an average family is spent on the mobile phone and tuition despite the increase of prices of food and other general expenditure giving priority mobile/tuition protesting vehemently on the increase of the price of bread by five rupees and keeping Mum on increase of mobile and tuition. International schools though only few are of some standing, helping young to improve English skills helps to find employment in the private sector. Young is not trained and geared to Innovations, novel thinking, and individual and collective planning which a necessity is for a start-up nation. Sri Lanka is the only country in the world providing free education from the kindergarten to the University though not properly utilized by the citizen due to Tuition Culture and lack of confidence on the free education system. India education is not absolutely free. In the United Kingdom from where the Education and social benefit system was inherited, the University Education is funded by Loans to be recovered on employment. In Sri Lanka University students agitate on the street for employment which is not happening anywhere in the world. It is the duty of the graduates to be innovative and find employment for their future and that of their country.

Education – Unemployment – Universities – and Technology in the development process

World University system is connected to productivity, employment, technology, and economy as those in the forward front line with a vision to the nation giving guidance and direction in all aspects. State and the Private sector always looks forward and upon towards the Universities for research and assistance in productivity and development as a practice. Government and the Private sector are directly linked with the universities and educational institutions and the SMEs which is the cradle of economy. USA, USSR, UK, Israel and any other Country University is in the forefront on all aspects of development process. How many Universities in Sri Lanka have links with the State Private sector on technology, experiments, research work and in the development process is a moot issue to be found out? It is to the credit to the “Moratuwa” University to have attempted to initiate links with public, private and international sector in a limited way in research and development, Whilst the Arts Graduates go on procession for government jobs of any capacity, – mainly teaching appointments when “Moratuwa” science graduates are headhunted by the private sector. Arts Gradates should learn English and Information Technology as a life line and skill for their good. Unemployment and underemployment is high in Sri Lanka with less or no productivity in industry, plantation and agriculture. 51% of the population in on “Samurdi” and 1.8 million of the population are in Middle East on unproductive work consisting of large number of ladies needed to look after children families and the villages. Other workforce on trishaw drivers, Security Services, helpers, retired and that in security forces and engaged in unproductive work. University students are the most unproductive and misdirected to fight for any government job. Training centres are not properly organized and interconnected to make use of them for the country. IT and Technology training and teaching is neglected and abandoned. They are not bothered to learn the language and IT skills freely offered by Universities and other groups and organizations. They ridicule “Kaduwa” English Language as unwanted as it is not needed in the government service. There should be complete regeneration of the attitude of the student and working population. It is a sad state of affairs in Sri Lanka when Universities worldwide are considered to be centres of excellence for research, development programs, utilized by the state and private sector.

Tuition culture

Tuition is the fashion encouraged by class teachers in schools is busy with conducting private tuition classes during weekends and evenings. Sometimes tuition classes are conducted by 3.00 early in the morning where students are expected to attend school after the tuition classes. Charges are exorbitant and tuition masters lead a comfortable luxury life with brand new cars and mansions to live at the cost of students. We are told some teachers having worked weekends take a rest and sleep at classrooms on following Monday. Televisions and walls on the road are full of advertisements on tuition. Poor parents compete to find better masters for better results for the child by spending savings and the salary at the cost of other expenses of the family budget. Government is expected to provide mid-day meal, clothes, and education up to the University level and beyond. In the circumstances it is doubtful whether there is infect true free education system available in Sri Lanka. It is high time to control tuition culture which is fast spreading and damaging the discipline and confidence of the student depending on tuition masters on the street.

Medical /Technical/ Technology/ and English Education

These are the areas of priority in the field of education for the development and prosperity. Our Medical practitioners are/ able competent and recognized worldwide. In the United Kingdom many hospitals and public sector is manned by Sri Lankan doctors. We need more and more medical schools and students to serve in Sri Lanka and outside. It is sad that some students and Doctors challenge the private medical College established to cater the needs of the country led by a competent and dedicated doctors and a group of lecturers. Parents spend millions of rupees for medical education in underdeveloped countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and even in the East European countries and easily get official recognition to practice back in Sri Lanka while the medical council is blocking the recognition of Malabe Medical faculty. Recognition of Kotelawala Medical Faculty is a correct decision, but we do not understand why different treatment to Malabe medical faculty maintaining world standards. It is unfair and strange that the Sri Lankan Medical Council is blocking the registration of our students seeking permission to practice in Sri Lanka with the potential for overseas employment. Technical and Technology education is another area that needs complete overhaul. Hardy/German School of technology and Agricultural Schools produced engineering and agriculture experts during a different era but not anymore, despite modern developments on technology and modern equipment. English is taught in the most primitive colonial methods, by teaching grammar instead of English as a life skill with spoken English. Students from International Schools are able to get jobs in Banks and Private sector with English when Arts Graduates in Universities are on the street demanding government jobs –especially teaching appointments and office work.

Way forward

Whether we enjoy free education is a moot issue despite enormous amounts spent on children for tuition and extracurricular activates and education in private institutions in Sri Lanka with branches of many Universities worldwide thriving in Sri Lanka. We need a full transformation and overhaul on the system of education in line with the developments and needs of the country and world trends. Development and prosperity of a country depends on education and how the young generation is taking part in the development process. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka there is no innovative culture or encouragement of directions to new ideas and products for self-development and the development of the country. Israel is what it is today as a result of direct participation of the Human resource with no natural resources including water in short supply. On the contrary what haven’t we got on the earth compared to other countries?. We have not exploited the strategic situation of the country on a main sea route, as an aviation and port hub, beauty of the country with favourable climatic conditions, for tourism, Water in abundance for agriculture, extreme developed infrastructure, and Ancient History and Archaeological monuments, in addition to untapped human resources which is most powerful of all. Our development and prosperity depends on taking education on the correct tract as has been taken by other countries exploiting the most valuable human and other resources available in abundance but untapped resources linked and using education and technology as the roadway to prosperity and development.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    Free education is a myth in govt schools in Colombo.

    Take for instance Royal or Visaka.

    Visaka has 5,000 students. Each parent spends atleast Rs 8,000 per month on tuition etc.That is Rs 40 million per month or almost Rs 500 million per year.

    GOSL allocation for 250 teachers at Rs 30,000 per month is Rs 7.5 million which is approx Rs 100 million per month.
    Expenses funded by GOSL is another Rs 100 million per year giving a total of Rs 200 million budget allocation.

    Free education is a myth!!!

    • 2
      0

      Free education is a myth, BAD and useless education is the norm throughout Sri Lanka where education sector like every other sector in the country is politicized and full of uneducated regime cronies and DEADWOOD of Sira-Ranil- CKB- MR.

      The political cronies and deadwood in Govt. sector are destroying all institutions in the country.

      • 5
        0

        So called Minister of Education Akila, Ranil’s pet, is a complete clown and moron – another political insult to the people of the Miracle of Modayas!

        First he insults children with HIV and then denies endemic racism in the education system!

    • 1
      0

      Sarath Wijesinghe

      RE: Do We Really Enjoy Free Education In Sri Lanka ?

      “Education is a process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values to the other generation. Education is a fundamental Right expected to be enjoyed by every citizen guaranteed in the Sri Lankan Constitution and many parts of the world. Absolute freedom of education is not found anywhere in the world including Sri Lanka. Parents give preference and priority to educate their children as an investment and for the future of their children, family, and the country. “

      There have been many studies that have shown Literacy and Education does pay for the population and the country. What differentiates Sri Lanka from the other South Asian countries is Education and the Literacy rate.

      However, there is an economic efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of Education issue, currently prevailing in the Sri Lankan Education System. Why is it that the Student have to go to Tuition classes again the learn the materials taught at school by the teachers? Many of you know the answer.

      What the State in Sri Lanka (and may other states) is providing is BASIC free education.

      The ability of the students and the populace to absorb that Free Education provided by the state depends on a number of factors, such as:

      1. The IQ of the students and the general population.( Sri Lanka Average IQ =79)

      2. The Quality and Effectiveness of the Teachers.

      3. The perception of the students, teachers, parents and the general population towards education.

      4. The economic, societal and religious value proposition as perceived by the students, parents, teachers and the general population.

      Given below are 15 reasons why education, however ineffective or basic, is important for a society. Remember, Malalas almost died for it.

      Top 15 Reasons Why Education is Extremely Important.

      You may be knowing your A’s and B’s and C’s, but are you educated or just literate? No rolling your eyeballs please, there is a difference. Literacy is knowing how to read and write. Education is to be able to reason, to use your ability to read and write to your benefit and to be able to gain your spectrum of knowledge by trying to surge deeper into the literate knowledge imparted to you. We’ve had debates innumerable about why is it important for every country to increase the literacy rates of its citizens, but is merely doing that enough? No, we do not need just literate citizens, but educated ones too. We do not want to be a group of people who can read and write but make nothing out of it. Wondering what education makes of us? It makes us human, a robot can read and write to, but reason? Here are reasons why education is extremely important.

      15. Avoiding societal embarrassment

      14. Forgoing baseless superstitions

      13. Reasoning against the illogical

      12. Keeping up with evolutions

      11. Exposure to the World

      10. No more a fool :Keeping your own mind

      9. A Healthier Lifestyle and living

      8. Adapting to newer techniques for productivity

      7. Ethical values that help make the world more peaceful

      6. Imparts ability to work across genres and cultures

      5. Economic growth of the nation

      4. A longer, disease free life for the younger generation

      3. The Will to Keep trying till success strikes

      2. Earn your own living

      1.Happiness abound : Stable, balanced, self dependent life.

      http://listsurge.com/top-15-reasons-education-important/

      Relationship among GDP, Per Capita GDP, Literacy
      Rate and Unemployment Rate

      http://www.bjournal.co.uk/paper/BJASS_14_2/BJASS_14_02_02.pdf

    • 1
      0

      Sarath Wijesinghe

      RE: Do We Really Enjoy Free Education In Sri Lanka ?

      Do We Really Enjoy Yahapalanaya In Sri Lanka ?

      Do We Really Enjoy Free Stealing In Sri Lanka ?

      Want to know more? Why more VAT for People? To cover Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Srealings.

      Final Cut TV1 29th May 2016

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz9JhZ4QkjM

    • 0
      0

      This is the same in other parts of the island too, Jaffna, Batticaloa etc.. Parents send alot of money in private tutions. The reality is without going to the tutory the child cannot enter the University

  • 5
    0

    Thank you for this timely article. It is sad that education in Sri Lanka has been reduced to the scholarship exam, O’levels and A’levels.the trouble with most of us is that when something is given free, it holds no value. Imagine if our university students had to skimp and save and pay their way through university – they would not have time to go on protests, let alone rag. And this whole idea that the govermnet should provide them with jobs will not come up! I was told of a graduate who sat sat at home for the past ten years waiting for this government job, while his poor parents do menial jobs to support him! Its a terrible situation but our society is to be blamed too, for encouraging this trend.
    The graduates covet these givernment jobs for the job security and pension, but walk into any government office and you will see just how efficient they are!

    • 1
      0

      I remember visiting JVP prisoners,in the early 1970s, all Unemployed Graduates from Sri Lankan Universities, who asked Sirimavo, whether She could send Them Overseas for University Education, like her own Children.

      • 0
        1

        Hamlet

        “I remember visiting JVP prisoners,in the early 1970s, all Unemployed Graduates from Sri Lankan Universities..”

        Were they educated in fields the Economy needed help? Most of them were not.

        They all were stuck in a grove of arts subjects, that provided employment to arts subject lecturers which in turn produced more arts graduates in the schools that the economy could not absorb…

        Sending them abroad to study arts subjects would not have helped much..

        Most who studied other subjects and fields got employment locally and abroad.

        • 1
          0

          ” Were they educated in fields the Economy needed help? Most of them were not”

          Amarasiri;

          That is not the fault of the Students.

          Why did Universities of the time, encourage students to enter the Arts Faculty?

          Universities should cater for the Current Needs of a Country.

  • 0
    0

    Mr Wijesinghe revisits a perennial subject.

    The truth is that ‘Free Education’ is far from ‘FREE’. It comes from government spending out of the national coffers. Governments usually will spend only just as much as they can get away with; and state education is not their highest priority. The majority of our politicians (and their athudawwas) will send their children to private schools or at least Royal or Visakha.

    The REAL cost of FREE education should be calculated in the millions spent by parents on private tuition in order to boost their children’s chances of getting decent grades.

    A classic case of fooling some of the people all the time.

  • 3
    0

    Do you guess that those politicians who packed in our parliament and high SLAS
    officials in the high up in the government institutions, would make any change to the pathetic situation in the country. At this rate, no way, even in an other hundred years, it all there for every one to see since the day we got independence, 68 years ago. It all jolly time for them, and they don’t have any feeling in even in their wildest dreams for the people and country.

    Even Africa is rising. Africa has 54 countries, even though people are black, each of the country has different language and culture. Most of them don’t have even the funds to build a university for the higher education of their people.

    All are changing. The African Elders Initiates by the elder statesmen of Africa like Koffi Anaan, Rr. Desmon Tutu etc is changing the face of Africa.They have set up African Virtual University for all the African students to get higher education, cheap, fast and easy. They are digitizing Africa for communication and business. They are producing massive results out of all these initiatives.

    In Scandinavian countries, they are closing down brick and mortar schools, all home schooling and virtual education. Education is concerned these countries are in the top ten of the world. They don’t want to have a school for 50 or 100 students, it’s very costly and expensive. They don’t want to trouble and rush their kids in the morning for some wake up early and others late. With virtual learning and technology, they could study at their own phase, at home.

    If our country is to move forward, we need to have radical change in very thing we do, and there should be a massive movement towards technology and change.

    We are living in an exciting time and world. In 2018, in the US, they are going to roll out the driver-less, self driving cars. Experts are saying, they could put six times the number of cars at present they have on their roads without adding even an inch of new road. These vehicles drive better than the most well trained professional drivers. Wireless electricity is around the corner. 3D presenting doing huge change to manufacturing and medicine. It’s going to be ET and not IT. What Information Technology did to the world in the last decade, ET – Energy Technology – solar and wind – going to do to the world in next decade, right now, it’s doing massive a revolution, creating huge wealth and the rate of job creation is at an epic proportion. They world is reaping the endless free energy of the sun. This is creating such transformation in those countries nonparallel in human history.

    They predict the algorithms – robots and machine – would take over and eliminate the entire low and medium ends jobs in the US in next decade, that is 40% of their work force.

    In the end the well educated and well trained would thrive for there would be a huge demand for them as they are going to be in the driving seats of the new world.

  • 0
    0

    Pardon me for the typo. It’s 3D printing.

  • 0
    0

    There are many many factors which has led to this downfall. Having a division into science and arts at the school level is what has created this problem. A.L. curriculum should try to give a broad education in all fields including English, mathematics which should be compulsory for all students Most developed countries have such a system. At least Physical science and biological sciences should be amalgamated immediately so that Bio science students can also compete in the IT sector. At the moment lack of a mathematics knowledge prevents them from advancing in the IT sector. Similarly our economics graduates have no knowledge of mathematics so essential for their profession and also for higher studies.
    Technical education is at doldrums. All what they do in technical colleges now is IT and the earlier courses like Motor mechanism, electronics and electrical repair, carpentry, woodwork have all vanished from technical colleges. These are the areas with a good job market. While the government cannot give jobs to internal arts graduates universities have increased the no. of external graduates just to make some money which is a useless exercise. They simply swell the unemployment of graduates.
    Free education is a misnomer. Unless parents can afford to send their children to tuition classes, there is no hope of getting them past A.L.

  • 0
    0

    The Internet of things too going to change the human life in unimaginable ways.

  • 0
    0

    Private education is now a part of the education established with branches of Universities, and billions spent on foreign education due to lack of facilities on Sri Lanka. It is sad some interested parties are blocking registration of Malabe Medical School which is move in the right direction when we send our children toe Bangaladesh, Nepal Eastern Europe and many underdeveloped countries when we have our own due to pressure from JVP responsible for thousands of deaths and murders during 1988 disturbances. Now they have become saints and misdirecting University Students for political ends. We must encourage private medical technical and technology education.

  • 0
    0

    It is time to set up a long term education strategy for education. Private education is now a part of the education established with branches of Universities, and billions spent on foreign education due to lack of facilities on Sri Lanka. It is sad some interested parties are blocking registration of Malabe Medical School which is move in the right direction when we send our children toe Bangaladesh, Nepal Eastern Europe and many underdeveloped countries when we have our own due to pressure from JVP responsible for thousands of deaths and murders during 1988 disturbances. Now they have become saints and misdirecting University Students for political ends. We must encourage private medical technical and technology education.

  • 0
    0

    It is time to set up a long term education strategy for education. it is time to overhaul the entire education system with forward and modern thinking

    Private education is now a part of the education established with branches of Universities, and billions spent on foreign education due to lack of facilities on Sri Lanka. It is sad some interested parties are blocking registration of Malabe Medical School which is move in the right direction when we send our children toe Bangaladesh, Nepal Eastern Europe and many underdeveloped countries when we have our own due to pressure from JVP responsible for thousands of deaths and murders during 1988 disturbances. Now they have become saints and misdirecting University Students for political ends. We must encourage private medical technical and technology education.

  • 0
    0

    The money spent on education is not well spent. It is time for a strategy for Education in Sri Lnaka linked to development, agriculture, technology and employment generation.

  • 0
    0

    Other countries give priority to education and prosper .Tony Blair said priority in UK was Education Education and Education in the system of governance. He increased the government contribution for the mid day meal of students from 90 pence to 2 pounds and increased the slandered of the Technological Institutions linking education to University education to improve standards. We copy and follow the system of educated governance and legal system from UK and why not strategies and vision on education?

  • 0
    0

    Dear Mr. Sarath,

    The fundamental problem our schools face today is inequitable allocation of resources. Some schools get bigger share of the allocations and thereby are able to deploy better resources including teachers. The allocation of resources are also politically and communally biased. If the resources are allocated fairly among all the schools, there is no need for the parents to fight for places in some schools like Royal and Ananda for their children. Further, the government should legally ban private tuition. Furthermore, the government should shut down all the private educational institutions. This will pave the way for free education. Then education will be free for all.

  • 0
    0

    nice article

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