20 May, 2022


How To Save Education In Sri Lanka

By Mohammed Jehan Khan –

Mohammed Jehan Khan

Mohammed Jehan Khan

Education is the gateway to the future and has become an integral part of our society and the global village in total. From Neem tree schools it has expanded to high tech institutes and universities. However the universalisation and capitalisation of education began in the last phase of the 20th century literally ruined the quality of education in total. It has produced a series of nerds that memorise books rather than authentic thinkers and creative people. This sums up why have not produced any Einsteins, Teslas, Avicenas etc in the so called “Advanced 21st Century AD”.

Far from being informal, inexpensive and creative, today education has become highly corrupted by cooperate thieves, politicians, nerds and inappropriate teachers. In most countries including Sri Lanka education has been Nationalised and given free of charge. A set of accepted principles and procedures have come to be accepted while imparting education with science and technology, providing coherence to the subject matter.

Developing, higher middle-income countries like Sri Lanka cannot afford to spend much on education owing to financial constrains. Our expenditure on education is a mere 2% of our GDP of $59 Billion and a GDP per capitol $3500, as against the generally accepted norm of 6% in the western world and we are ranked behind our South Asian counterparts and third world nations — India which spends 2.8% of the $1.85 Trillion for education and has a GDP per capita of $1,488;  Bangladesh which spends 2.4% of its $111.88 Billion for education and has a GDP per capita of $ and; Pakistan which spends 2.7% of its  $210.88 Billion for education and has a GDP per capita of $1295.

The crucial question then must be posed. What makes Sri Lanka spend less on Education?

Back in 1943 C.W.W Kannangara’s consistent attempt to raise the level of literacy in the country resulted in the introduced a free education system which is effective l to date. This system by Kannangara benefitted thousands of underprivileged students around the country. Despite all these progresses Sri Lanka has one of the lowest rates of students pursuing higher education, which is 0.001% of the entire population (only 20,000 students a year are allowed to pursue higher education in Sri Lanka).

EducationThe reason is very clear. With the expansion of education and globalisation and also with the growth of technology and its application in education, the government of Sri Lanka finds it hard to sustain its free education system. What should be done? Abolish the age old Kannangara system and bring a new education referendum? The world changes rapidly while Sri Lanka sleeps to the lullabies of the communist inter-University Students’ Federation which is backed by the radical Marxist groups operating in the country.

Hence there is a role that the private sector needs to play, especially in the higher education system. The West, notably United States and the United Kingdom took a lead in the establishment of semi government education long ago, and we are following suit only by now. The Sri Lanka Institute of Information and Technology is the only semi-government technical and engineering university in the country.

The present education policy only ensures that students memorise the texts and theories; it does not attempt to bring the application of those learnt theories to the practical world thereby fostering innovation and creativity. That’s why Sri Lanka has not produced any Nobel Prize winners, scientists and leaders in its entire post independence history. Along with the defective education policy of the Government, is the poor infrastructure existing in the government run schools and universities. In contrast many semi-government, private schools and Universities offer a stark advancement in the infrastructure facilities.

Many of the government run schools (Maha Vidyalayas, Central Colleges and National Schools) and Universities (notably Wayamba, Rajarata, Jaffna and Eastern)  out of Colombo  have no buildings, Lab facilities, no extracurricular facilities and at times no teachers and lecturers.

Marxism that plagues the public universities often brings student strikes, student lecturers clashes, ragging, student group clashes and sudden closure of faculties and at times the entire university premises, which results in many students  abandoning their courses and many educated professors  leaving the country. Wastage, corruption, thugery and abuse are rampant in such universities.

Nevertheless, the private sector (leaving aside the semi government sector) has its own negative side, although compared with the negativity of the present education system of the country, is less hazardous.

One such disadvantage is that it brings for-profit and monetary consideration, thereby widening the disparities between the rich and the poor, to the betterment of the upper class of society. The private sector also appears to be interested in providing engineering and medical education, but their quality of education is questionable (SAITM, ACBIT, ICBT and APIIT). Some of these institutions do not provide quality education to their students even after charging them lakhs of rupees under various pretexts. This defeats the very purpose of higher education.

Privatisation of education has its pros and cons but if not controlled the disadvantage can cripple the entire system of education. Therefore government should intervene in the private sector and establish more effective semi government higher education institutions and Universities in the country. In today’s world it is not possible to keep the private sector outside the purview of education with the government’s peanut funds being totally inadequate for attaining the ideal of universalisation of education and contesting with regional and non regional countries.

In many regions in the country, Tamil and Muslim schools in particular do not have access to even the basic educational facilities. Thus the involvement of the private sector and private funding in education becomes a necessity.

There is need to minimise the ill effects arising out the involvement of the private sector. The private sector should be encouraged to play a vital role in higher education and for this to transpire what we require is a clear and transparent government policy. The policy must provide a level playing for all parties involved in this sphere. Existing bodies like the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Association of Commonwealth Universities should be given a more independent and definite status. Tough and punitive laws must be enacted to penalise the defaulters. After implementing such a healthy mechanism the government should lay emphasis on primary and secondary education where its policies are skewed and ill-conceived.  This would make available to the government more resources to invest in the primary and secondary education system, thus benefitting the entire system in the long run.

It is high time for the administrators and authorities in the education sector to realise the sacredness and importance of education, so that the very foundation of the country and its future remains secure.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 5

    This is an article very poorly written and very poorly thought out – written by a product of the worst of Sri Lanka education. Seventh grade students of the schools you complain about will produce much better work. Education is far too important a subject to be treated in a cavalier, reckless fashion as here. CT should take better care in future deciding what goes into print.

    • 10

      Don’t discourage an up and coming young writer.
      Lets encourage him on the contrary.
      I find the article is much better than Malinda and Ratnavalli crap.

      Do write Jehan, Good luck to you!

      • 5

        I think Jehan is on the right track and this article is a very good effort. I wish him the best, and I am pretty sure his next article will be even better. keep writing…

    • 4

      Your comment is the most unkindest cut of all. There may be some shortcomings in its content, but it is unfair to suggest that it is poorly written and poorly thought of, and unfit even by 7th grade standards. You fail to realize that these are only suggestions – food for thought, considering present day poor standards. Something needs to be done soon enough to raise the bar on the standard of education in Sri Lanka for our future generations to benefit. Why don’t you suggest what should be done to improve on education standards thus qualifying your insinuations, rather than being judgmental on others writings, who are brave enough to wrestle this subject with the best interest of the country’s future in mind.

      Jehan, take courage. This is a great write. May you go from strength to strength. CT I commend your efforts to introduce brave young writers with even a dash of fresh thinking. They may blossom into great writers someday. After-all they are all our very own.

  • 1

    This article doesn’t address issues on education.
    But I would say our entire education system is going wild.
    Our fundamental issue on education is quality of human resources made in after 13 years of study in Schools. Pupils and parents are afraid of
    future after accomplishing good results in A/L examinations. Even after obtained an university degree.

    How to make Quality Education
    1. Dynamic policies to change teaching contents every three years by reviving demand in International business & Local economic requirements
    2. Start vocation focus education after age of 12
    3. After age of 16 , mentor students to decide on whether to continue vocation education or start A/L
    4. Those choose to go ahead with vocation education, make compulsory 3 years vocation education plus 2 years of internship,
    5. Finally degree equaling vocation education after 5-6 years. So Student obtain a vocation degree at age 22-23 while those who decided to go ahead with A/Ls will complete university degree at age 22 or 23

    Which makes more work force , Big or small enterprises should allow interns to join in . Also, train more portion of student for Skill jobs.

    To make good human for Sri Lanka society it is compulsory to tech students on topics like
    1. Personal hygiene
    2. Disciplines
    3. History
    4. Values and culture

  • 6

    Despite the end of the war Sri Lanka’s Defense and police together account for nearly 12 percent of the government’s total estimated spending of 2.54 trillion rupees in 2014.

    In addition billions are spent on white elephant Harbour and airport infrastructure projects.

    Education and health are paying the price

  • 2

    only 20000 are in higher education is totally incorrect. total university enrollment in 14 state universities is around 70000; open university of srilanka enrolls around 25000:in addition there are several private institutions of higher education with several thousand students and external degree programs conducted by state universities (please see world bank publication on higher education in sri lanka 2007). sri lankan policy makers believe state university system could not be further expanded and would like to bring in foreign private insti. of higher education. but i must say that the total higher education enrollment in sri lanka is far from satisfactory. providing free higher education thro’ a university system by a developing country like SL is unthinkable.

  • 1

    The title of the article is ‘How to save education in Sri Lanka’
    Yet the writer has failed to mention how it can be saved.
    He says the private sector should play a big role in education but he says it cannot be trusted as its objective is only profits.

    It is clear the writer himself is confused and is unfamiliar with the subject he attempts to write on.
    It is naive to believe that crises in education can be discussed in a single article.

  • 4

    It may be poorly written articles with valid thoughts and ideas, but he can write better than we can criticize.

  • 3

    Most of the brilliant scientists, mathematicians needed the basic education. They developed their theories on a firm foundation of basic concepts that they learnt at school or at some other higher education institution.

    However the most outstanding ones like Newton, Einstein and Tesla were geniuses in their own right. No amount of university education will produce such geniuses. It has to be inherent in them.

    Ramanujan, the great mathematician of India, whose algorithms we use every day when we use an ATM, never attended a university. He always failed the university entrance.

    Talking of algorithm, a concept derived from the name of Al Khwarizmi who invented algebra and algorithm did not have any university education in 8-9th century. Same goes for Aristotle and Ptolemy.

    So, in short, geniuses and their inventions are made despite the university system.

  • 2

    Does this writer have the guts to face up to criticism? and bounce back stronger the next time. We know constructive criticisms on his website are blocked everytime.

  • 0

    It’s so true that education system has corrupted by co-operating thieves, politicians, nerds and inappropriate teachers. This problem is not for one country. It’s truly said in the first line that education is the first window of life. It helps to develop the future and nation both equally. Without education, we can’t imagine for a develop our nation and its countrymen. So first improve the education system well and let it spread throughout the people. Without improving the education in any country, no one can change the face of coming future.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.