27 June, 2019

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Some Lessons To Fix Sri Lanka’s Broken Public Education System

By Shyamalee Mahibalan –

Shyamalee Mahibalan

This is a long overdue article that sheds a grim truth in to our education system. There were many reasons that prompted me to write this story, a relative who was unable to fund an International school education for her child was pleading to find a local school, her child was refused entry by many Colombo schools despite maintaining the right distance to the school. These slots are most likely filled by political connections, fake addresses or high donation fees. The social media is full of stories of political appointments to the government schools. One may ask are they new stories? Or are these stories trying to tell us the trajectory of a broken system, years of broken political legacies. Every Sri Lankan knows hundreds of such stories and behind them are the usual suspects-a political influencer, an educator and a desperate parent.

Sri Lanka has the highest literacy rate in South Asia, yet, it is unable to develop the fundamentals to create a sustainable and a progressive education system. Furthermore, Sri Lanka is also unable to retain the best brains the brain drain is a huge issue for its development and growth. With thousands of unregulated International schools across the country parents are forced to send their children for the simple reason that the political establishments are only interested in short term policies and the inability to think for the future and create a future ready society. International schools were initially created to cater to the children of expatriates but it seems now the growing needs of local students is what is driving these schools. I remember in the early 80’s foreign students were placed in our local schools.

The fundamental issues in the Sri Lankan public education system can be sited as; access to quality education, dearth of trained teachers across the country (trained teachers are usually provided mostly to the elite schools), lack of government funding for education, no future focus, serving their own political interest, and an unregulated education system.

On the other hand, Singapore’s Education System is Considered the best in the world by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD AND PISA ranking) in Math and science. Singapore students are three years ahead of its American peers.

The National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University are rated as two of the best universities in Asia. None of this was achieved over night but by a gradual change over the years. Meritocracy and education work hand in hand in Singapore.

During the initial years of self- government, a five-year plan was set up to boost education standards with the introduction of three main features: the main feature being Equal Treatment for the four streams of education (Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English)

After the first year of Independence in 1965, the government allocated 59% of its annual budget for education. There was a rapid construction of schools, class room desks, and chairs were designed to provide comfort and long term usage. By the mid 70’s there was a severe shortage of Engineers, Management personnel, and Technicians, this is when the open- door policy was implemented. The government then accelerating the development of education in science and technology. By the end of 1970 Singapore was leading in Social and Economic development ahead of most developing countries. In 1979 education was revamped again to reduce education wastage. This system provided 3 streams in primary and secondary school to allow progress at a more suited pace. By 1980 this system saw more changes in Bilingualism, Moral education, Civic science, mathematics and technical education. Regular student assessments were carried out by the Ministry of Education Research and Testing division. Schools were given greater autonomy. Teacher shortages were tackled by greater training programs and increased salaries. In 1990, the education system was revamped again from efficiency driven to ability driven schools under the “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation”. Ability driven education believed that every child has some talent or ability. Schools were strongly encouraged to take ownership of their curriculum and activities to identify talents and abilities. This includes gifted education, Music, Art, PE and leadership. All these changes were fully funded by the government (World Bank Report).

In 2004 Education Ministry launched “Teach Less Learn More”, it called on the educators to teach better, engage and prepare students for life instead of only exams. The most sought after Singapore Sports School and the Singapore School of The Arts were launched during this period. In 2010 and Beyond, “Every School a good School was launched”. This was initiated by the ministry to scrap the Banding of the schools. The education system is not without its flaws to reduce exam stress and build a more forward thinking generation banding was been re considered. The Government launched its newest initiative “Life Beyond Grades” recently. Under this initiative sweeping changes are being made to the education system. No more waited tests and exams for primary 1 and 2. No mid-year exams for primary 3 and 5 pupils. Classes will no longer be segregated as high progress and low progress. Kindergarten kids will get priority in Co-located primary schools, these are a few of many measures under the new changes.

None of this is possible without the political will, strong leadership and long term planning.

Singapore’s education system is constantly evolving and changing in line with its economic growth and future demands.

To quote Nich Alchin, Principal, United World College of South East Asia, “If it ain’t broke make it even better”, As a tiny country with very few natural resources, the talent and capabilities of Singaporeans has been the bedrock of the country’s success, and so education has always been and remains a top priority (N Alchin). 

Reference:

World Bank.org

World Economic Forum

nickalchinuwcsea.blogspot.com

*Shyamalee Mahibalan was a freelance Sri Lankan journalist. She won the Subramanian Chettiar Social Development reporter, merit award in 2007 for her stories about women and Juvenile prisoners. She now lives in Singapore and writes mainly academic essays.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    1

    Thank you Ms Mahibalan for the article using Singapore success with Time line.

    Infect it is the time line showing the progressive thinking of a good governance and the sequence you have pointed out is a god way to get the message acrid effectively…..5 year plan>>Thinking Schools, Learning Nation>>Teach Less Learn More>>Every School a good School>>Life Beyond Grades.

    As a man from Vaddukottai i can comfortable state we were doing fine until early 70’s even after the Sinhalese and Tamil militancy ‘killings’ started that has ridiculed and made a mockery of all our planning for the entire country in all sectors. This is the generation should have completed their studies and become engineers/scientists/planners/political scientsists go technocrats/economist for our Nation to go through the stages you have captured very well in your writing.

    The killings have systematically removed all our Nationalist Leasers/Politicians capable of delivering this to the Nation since 1970 has led to the scenarios we have currently. We are left with ghetto politicians with identity politics will never allow all the aspiration for an educated society leading a normal life without the brain drain. In the process we have accumulated enough death of all our children misguided by the same such we will never get back on track for few generations to come…. by then new geo political mandates of the foreign powers would have taken away all sovereign control in our destiny anyway.

    Singapore/Malaysia and several other ASIAN countries have used the very rare window of opportunity in 80’s to get themselves our of this rod very successfully through vision…..where we were being killed by our own children who were trained and armed elsewhere.

    Now we will be discussing constitutional changes until 22nd century..sorry we will not have time/funds to think about educational needs of our next generation.
    Thank you

    • 4
      0

      The Sri lankan education system is being deliberately made sub-standard by all sorts of World Bank ‘aid’ and fake development projects at University level, where only Bullshit Research is done, and in schools where Technology Fetishism such as tabs for students to benefit foreign computer manufacturing companies is the name of the game – to line the pockets of Akila Viraj and fund his next election. Of course corrupt politician clowns in successive UNP-SLFP governments who are in charge of education are the root of the problem.
      A brilliant scholar at LSE, David Greaber wrote a book titled ‘Bullshit Jobs’. Today There is a lot of Bull Shit Research done by local scholars at local and foreign universities on agendas set by foreign donors– all part of the politics of distraction and Useless Knowledge Production. Likewise, like the Tabs for student and free health insurance when the country has a free healthcare system are all bull shit fake education development projects being done at the behest of Fake foreign Aid donors who are putting Sri Lanka in a bigger and bigger debt trap.

      • 3
        0

        Right on Kalu, Bullshit jobs, bullshit research, and bullshit foreign loan for Debt trap Development – that is the neo-liberal Washington Consensus project to benefit America First and the Global 1 percent and beggar the rest. This is US puppet Bondscam Ranil’s project for Lanka!

        Fake foreign ‘aid/loan projects are the reason for the debt trap in Sri Lanka and all foreign loan projects should be halted and reviewed.
        The sub-standard milk cows imported from AUSTRALIA for billions of rupees is just one such scam. There is another scam right now in the Fisheries sectors where a French Consulting company called Cofferpeche is surveying harbours in the South and envisages a million Euro loan to the corrupt fisheries Ministry. This is Fake aid from France’ Agency for Development to the Fisheries sector under-development in Sri Lanka

        With the 2015 Bondscam Ranil gave the green light to all his ministers to loot the country with fake foreign aid loan funded “Development” projects, to do their election campaigns! This is why Lanka is in a massive foreign aid debt trap to US soverieign Bonds

      • 2
        0

        Dear Shyamalee Mahibalan,
        .
        You have posted this article on the 18th, so all my comments have to come in within the next five days.
        .
        I will make an effort to post comments on various aspects, such as (1) the wastage owing to both corruption, indifference, and inefficiency. (2) The teaching of English (3) the lack of accountability in many of the old Christian missionary schools.
        .
        Without doubt there are other important issues, but these are the areas in which I know a little more than many others.

        • 1
          0

          Ah, yes, and also I could tell you how education for the “Up-country” Tamils has been improving somewhat during the fifty years since I became a teacher. At that time it was often the case that outside of the actual Estate School (which, a hundred years ago was a creche run by the estate itself, so as to ensure that the mothers could pluck tea leaves), the schools in areas with somewhat mixed populations were part of the Sinhalese School.
          .
          The system was horrible – if you compare with the large Christian Private Schools where the Tamil children were treated as equals, you’ll get a totally wrong picture. I first saw this at work in Ettampitiya M.V. in 1968. The Tamil children used the less good classrooms of the Sinhalese students in the afternoons. They were not allowed to participate in Sports because they were not citizens of Sri Lanka.
          .
          Three years later, I found myself in another such school, in the middle of Sarnia Estate, Kandegedera, Hali-Ela. There I protested, and actually met the Provincial Director of Education to get this changed. The explanations given were different, but the result was the same. Now that I’ve told you that much, could those desirous of knowing more please pose questions?

          • 2
            0

            All these prove USfurther not just teacher-tranings but entire edcuational structure needs URGENT reforms. It is not at all easy task, so long the edcuation is offered free of charge.
            :
            I believe, they the CBK adminsitration did start lot more reforms in Edu sector in the country. But it was suspended once her successor took the office in 2005. For the first time, pay hikes became a reality also during CBK adminstiration. All these were crippled in the days of MR regime, not being able to do the least to Edu sector. They rather went on unique programmes seeking their own popularrity, calling it as “;MAHINDOODAYA”, but having done not much, apart from labs or toilets. Their ceremonial innuageerations were reported to have costed them multiple fold more then the costs of those new labs and toilets given to those rural schools. All in all, education got treated mother-in law treatment in the high days of MR regime.

          • 1
            0

            I think Mr Sinhala Man or the like SENIOR retired teachers could do lot more for the upliftment of lanken education system. Their decades long life experiences can help today’ s teachers for improvement of their teachings. I have the feeling, todays teachers lack of child psychology.
            :
            In Europe, teachers and medical doctors them being caught by their retirement, have their free choice to be part of on going developement processes. I know this very well in Germany. I know 80 year old medical doctors (internists) work today in various consultation offices. Why not lanken authorities create suitable projects so that the reitred of teachers/other professionals of Mr Sinhala Man calibre ( real GURUs) could provide their ” know hows” with the advantages of the masses.
            I have no idea if the kind of projects can be practical in my home country, anyways, if senior citizens of Mr Sinhala Man could undoutedly do lot more for the progress of the school education system. Besides, today lanka is reported to be lack of English teachers.

  • 2
    0

    Dear Shyamalee Mahibalan, what prompted JVP – late 80s Civil Riots [it is actually a WAR] and what pushed Tamils to Alliance themselves to be Terrorists [freedom fighters] You know what Shyamalee…it is that lack of Opportunities provided by Government Sponsored Education…Bottom line The Most Evil Institution in Sri Lankan Society is the Ministry of Education more to say like it’s 35 past years….

    Dear Shyamalee, it is a good article would you be offended if I say it’s Like a FAIRYTALE…Picture perfect …..Shyamalee ……TRUTH May be Out there but do you have the GUTS to Prepare for it’s bitter Revelation—-here is the Bottom Line past 35 Years of all the Sri Lankan Society Failures are DIRECTLY engineered by – SL Government Sponsored Education—Take that if Y dare

    Shyamalee let me point out it’s MORTAL Flaw–it Only allows less than 15% [back in 1980-1998 :0.07%-5%] Higher education Opportunities…..The REST Gov says…hell with the rest of them. Shyamalee Do you have the GUTS to write an article about that…How the SL Neglected Government system Pushed so many Young people into Desperation & eventually to Nation Civil WAR…..Our so called Nidahs Adyapana was the system gave birth to Prabhakaran & Wijeweera… Even right now there are so few AFFORDABLE Higher Educational Opportunities available…The role of the UGC & Government is to REGULATE Price-Value of a Degree….it is basic right that education Available at an affordable Price

  • 11
    0

    Sri Lanka has a meaningless free education.

    It’s advantageous for people NOT to have such free education but unfortunately they don’t understand it.

    Generally there’s a school in every village but for strange reasons people don’t love that.

    They love schools @ far away, mainly in the city. Those schools have something like a brand name/image of a general product so parents get an empty pride by making their loved ones students there.

    The general idea of majority is that it’s free education because it’s free of charge but they spend thousands for transport, thousands for tuition even though there’re reasonably qualified & trained teachers @ schools, a considerable amount as facilities fees & some indirectly charged amount in the guise of school development fund & some more , like sports meet funding etc., there’s no end for that.

    See the waste, more than 75% students in cities coming from outskirts causing terrible traffic jams, burning fuel etc.

    To correct this mistake government must take necessary steps without any fear. Free of charge education must be made available only @ the village school.

    School buses & vans must be banned.

    Those who prepare fake documents must be severely punished.

    Unless there’s a very special purpose school hostels must be closed. Instead quarters must be built for teachers, especially in rural schools.

    Private boarding houses too must be closed.

    A law must be there to keep children with parents or very close family members like grand parents.

    A maximum number of students for a school & for a class room must be decided.

    Instead of giving priority to evaluate students’ knowledge, there should be a system to evaluate teacher performance & their salaries, promotions & even the pensions must depend on it.

    Meaning of free education must be free access rather than free of charge,

    All the lotteries must be banned & people must be taught to save money for their purposes.

    Private tuition must be banned, university entry must be decided on 1st & 2nd attempt.

    People must be taught to live a life according to their income.

    • 2
      1

      Dear RR

      Most of what you said is spot on.

      It is also fact what the Author has touched ‘Life Beyond Grades’ is why we failed to diversify our society to be sustainable. It is a cultural norm I want to be a doctor/engineer/accountant etc………but not to be fisherman/pottery maker/gold smith/mechanic/farmer is enshrined into our mindset…….an inherited luxury by few but then everyone thought is the only way to make a living/retake the lost social status due to divide and conquer. I think is an Island mentality we failed to address..because the caste system was cantered around this institutionalised racism our so called elected failed to address….and jumped on bigger bandwagons to make a living for themselves instead. This is not how things were done in Singapore is what theAuthor trying to say. Work together and stay focus you get there is the essence of education/journey itself.this works for all issues. Singapore success is not just in education but on all areas governing social order/empowerment. She is still growing as nothing is ever perfect..a challenge to survive/excel.

      We have Tamil Nadu gutter politics (nothing to do with the people of Tamil Nadu) as our neighbours then the chances are bleak….nothing you can do is a proven fact. Since Independence all the social flaws existed in our society were parked under ‘Buddhist Sinhalese’….now is left to the UN…always someone else fault.

      Did we learn anything after all the Mother Lankan children died for the past 40 years????? then what are the chances of any education benefitting us?? does not matter how much we plan/scope manage.

      Now you look at the Parliament a bunch of lawyers tuned this into a court room drama since Independence and made a jolly good living?? then what are the chances of a technocrat run Governance as in Singapore that delivers things to people.

    • 3
      0

      Dear Real Revolutionist,
      .
      Shyamalee’s article is a good one, and I think that this comment of yours is brilliant. I’ve just posted two comments in which I may be saying that my family has been doing things a little differently, but every single thing that you say is meaningful.
      .
      One of the problems in Sri Lanka is that all pay lip service to “Education”, but in reality look only for certificates, social mobility and making quick bucks without realising that we’ve got to contribute towards the re-building of this war-torn country.
      .
      We have ended up with near 100% ability to write alphabets, do simple arithmetic, and manipulate smartphones, but not knowing how to choose a government for ourselves.
      .
      I hope that other readers will be inspired by your comment written so economically and to the point.
      .
      Getting on for 4.00 a.m., and so, I must sleep.

      • 3
        0

        Mr Sinhala Man,
        .
        Yes, I also like his COMMENT above. Our people seem to be suffering from more psycho problems, and that may be the reason them to underestimate the resources plentily available for them in terms school education. All what they have to do is to improve the levels of teachings by providing proper and regular trainings to the teachers.
        :
        I believe, lankens teachers are lack of regular teacher training programmes yet today in Sl
        .
        By the way, WHY YOU WAKE UP THAT EARLY ? It is just normal human beings would need not that long sleep older the become but you need to think of your heath too.
        :
        Thanks for your comments. I will add mine to your next days.

        • 2
          0

          Dear desperateasnoother,
          .
          I’m so sorry that I don’t live up to your expectations by being a nice sensible fellow.
          .
          I don’t wake up as early as 4.00 a.m. I’m quite often up till 4.00 a.m., and then hit the pillow. I fear that I comment far too much, and one cannot make those comments without first reading what others are saying. As for my health, I know that there are a few of my age who are in really good health, but not many.
          .
          My health is better than most people of my age; I can’t possibly last much more than 30% of what I’ve already lived, and that, too, with inevitably diminishing faculties. Given a choice, I’d outlaw both Death and Old Age. But alas, that is not possible, so we’ve got to let it happen when it pleases. Nothing to be gained by worrying.

    • 3
      0

      Real Revolutionist / March 18, 2019@

      Quote
      Generally there’s a school in every village but for strange reasons people don’t love that.

      They love schools @ far away, mainly in the city. Those schools have something like a brand name/image of a general product so parents get an empty pride by making their loved ones students there
      Unquote

      It is just the typical attitude of the people in this country. They are not learnt to respect and be happier with the resources plenitly available for them. In Germany, they do also have free education incl. free universities, but they the parents are not suffering from the disease as ours, sending their children to the schools located far away from their homes. However, they focus if their chidren to have better school education as a GYMANSIUM (equivalent to school that provide the student with A/L, since all the schools dont offer them the chances to do their ALevels at them).
      .
      Not just for schools only, but our people, in general are after foreign products. They very often look down upon locally manufactured products. We the LANKENS living in Europe get to consume lanken products, while our locals in SL would prefer foreign products.
      .
      I have found various SRILANKEN products in European super markets; mostly the products such as CHRISTMAS decorative, textiles etc in SL. But in Europe we pay multiple times more for them:
      :
      I think lankens in general should start respecting their own products. This they should learn from other countries. Actually, this is always connected with the quality of the products.And i notice, the quality of local products for exports are now becoming REMAKABLY better today than in the past.
      Mostly, our people would prefer fragile Chinese low quality products to SRILANKEN made baby toys.
      They just want to show off, that their lovely ones are more into foreign items. This is really psycological problem.

  • 3
    0

    Shyamalee

    You appears to be a nice gentle person with good intentions. So I don’t want you to get hurt by involving yourself in educating the Srilankans.
    This island and its rulers have been cursed by thousands of men and women from Tamil and Sinhalese communities since Kuveni. Victims are everywhere and continue to curse the rulers and its armed forces, past and present, as there is no relief in sight. Country is doomed and people live in fear. Corruption prevails in every aspect of their life. Schools are not exempted. Rulers believe by installing Buddha statue on top of the hills, street corners and junctions of the island they could escape from the effects of curse. No way; As a Tamil poet wrote” Buddha was shot dead by the armed forces when they burnt down the public library in Jaffna. “. What is left now? Empty temples and monks surrounded by corrupt politicians. In this scenario, it is better for you to stay in Singapore and do more paintings, sister.

    • 5
      0

      Thank you for all your Thoughtful comments! I wish to point here, Malaysia took a different route I would say pretty much like Sri Lanka.There is social disparity in its system and it favours towards the majority.Perhaps the reason why so many minority Malaysians are educating their children in Singapore.Elitism is another huge issue that creates a clear divide in the society.This was a reason the Singapore government is slowly taking away the banding system.Having said that changing the mindset of the parents is a long road.They still want high grades and branded secondary schools.Eventually,I see this changing.

    • 4
      0

      Dear Sadhu,
      .
      What you say is all true, but we must find a way of ensuring that people stay in this country which has been so bountifully blessed by Nature!
      .
      I’ve been a teacher all my life, and I will try to add details that confirm what Shyamalee Mahibalan and you say. I’ll do my best to suggest improvements. Real Revolutionist has already made some useful suggestions.

  • 1
    0

    It is a timely call by Shyamalee Mahibalan to have exposed the worrying situation of our educational standards. She outlined in a nutshell on how Singapore spearheaded its education system to what they are now. Education is a moral right for all citizens and it is the bounden duty of all the governments to provide quality education without political agenda. In this context, all governments present and in the past had failed miserably to deliver quality education. Quality of education in our country continues to go down the drain and no sign of improvement whatsoever. Who will bell the cat?

  • 3
    0

    This is not the time to dig into what and what had gone wrong. Think not of what had gone wrong but of what should be done from now on. Here is a clue. The meteoric rise of Singapore began when it allocated 59% of its annual budget for education, soon after independence.
    .
    A school inspector was observing a primary school teacher taking English. ‘Repeat after me, G-R-I-L. girl’.
    Unable to bear this nonsense, the Inspector took the teacher aside, and gently pointed out that the teacher was ‘wrong’ and that it should be G-I-R-L, not G-R-I-L.
    The teacher calmly replied, ‘When I am paid well, it will be G-I-R-L. Until such time G-R-I-L is good enough, for the pay I receive!

  • 2
    0

    In late forties, the then Ceylon was the envy of Asia. Singapore wanted to emulate Ceylon. From independence in 1948, Ceylon was getting into a vortex of language/religion-divide. Successive governments only added the force of the spiral.
    In 1965, when Singapore gained independence, the leaders instead of emulating Ceylon were learning from the mistakes made there. Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English were the recognised national languages. The skeptics were told to look at Ceylon.
    Ceylon has lots of natural resources compared with Singapore. For example, Singapore imports water from Malaysia. The leaders chose to exploit human resources. Meritocracy was the obvious choice. Law and Order was maintained. Criminals, drug dealers, financial wrong doers were firmly dealt with.
    Investment in education, healthcare, infrastructure paid off handsomely. Rest is history.
    .
    SL, formerly Ceylon, wants to emulate Singapore. Can we?
    Not in the ‘Culture’ of corruption/nepotism/impunity.
    .
    Shyamalee Mahibalan has highlighted some faults in Lankan primary, secondary and tertiary education.
    The products of Singapore education end up in a bounded square. They think, if and when they do, vertically.
    ‘Liberal Singaporean’ is an oxymoron.

  • 4
    0

    Dear Shyamalee Mahibalan,
    .
    I think that your article has mostly put emphasis on the right issues, and I hope to make more positive comments in the next couple of days. This is an excellent forum, but one has to get comments in fast because, for the most part, interest wanes after the first few days.
    .
    I’m sure that you have very good knowledge of what happens in Singapore, and your diagnosis of the problems here is pretty good. However, may I forestall critics by querying one or two points? Actually, the first point is about Singapore: you say that they allocated 59% of their budget for Education in 1966. So incredible that I think that you should explain/substantiate what you say there.
    .
    As for Sri Lanka, we used to say that there were ten thousand State Schools. The area I’m most familiar with is Uva – Bandarawela and Badulla. Some remote Sinhalese Medium schools have closed: note carefully what Real Revolutionist has said. There is a mad scramble to get into the very large town schools (four to five thousand students in a “Prestigious School” is all too common a phenomenon.). Tamil students on the estates are just too poor to gravitate into the towns. Each town tends to have five to ten large (upwards of one thousand students) Sinhalese Schools, but only one or two large Tamil Schools. Away from the towns, in Estate Areas, there are a few Tamil schools, comparable in size, but not in facilities, to those in the towns.
    .
    There can’t be “thousands of International Schools”, more likely five hundred of them. In the hill country, there are many wealthier Tamil and Muslim children in them – more than the national proportion. Sinhalese, too, and there, at least they get on harmoniously. In the poorer of those Internationa Schools, there may be untrained teachers.

    • 2
      0

      Implementimg ” all school is a good school” will be a great idea.If that is so then all the schools must be upgraded,teachers must be provided with quality training,curriculam must be re looked at,English teacher training should be a must so children from other parts of the country should also have access to the language despite,race,ethnicity or religion.

      • 2
        0

        Yes, Shyamalee. That is the ideal. But are we all hypocrites?

        This was the problem with the Bandaranaikes. They implemented Swabasha only, but the widowed Sirimavo educated her children abroad.
        .
        Me. My family was, and is, almost entirely Christian. I’m almost agnostic, but that doesn’t register socially. My father was a teacher in Christian schools, died early, making us poor, but my mother continued desperately to remain genteel and school us in the best institutions in the country. We were an isloated family in the hills. My birthplace, S. Thomas’, Bandarawela, was then among the best schools; as was the branch for older boys in Gurutalawa, and then Mt Lavinia. And hostels. For my five sisters it was Ladies’ College, Colombo 7. Yet I’d say that Real Revolutionary is right in all his observations. There quite simply are no hostel schools any more, except a few vestiges which cannot be accommodated in a summary. We paid a price in more senses than one.
        .
        I drifted into teaching – in State Schools. Trained, I continued with the State, until the Peter Principle got to work. It was a lot of work to catch up. I ended up as a full-time undergraduate in Peradeniya, which led to my own daughters being hostellers in the private Anglican Hillwood College. My grand-daughters were toddlers and nursery kids in Malaysia, studying only in English, at great expense. My daughter sacrificed her Bank Manager job for full-time mothering. Now the kids are at Ladies’ College, being taken some distance by Uber-taxi, while my son-in-law continues to finance from his job in Malaysia.
        .
        I hope that you understand the dilemmas. Huge sacrifices made for education, but not really funded by the State.
        .
        Not everybody will do this!

  • 0
    1

    Dear Folks

    There was an article I read recently stating very many schools do not even have Principles and sever shortage of Teachers too.

    I remember in early 70’s in Jaffna the best teachers left to go to African countries (well before the war) even from the best of schools. Then it was left to the tuition centres to fill the gap???

    On a separate note the current discussions even in the UK is about preparing children for Universities as the real benefit of having a graduate saturated market not fit the needs of the community is being questioned?

    To the contrary the Swiss and the German models are different where at 13-14 years if age they decide and direct children to various further education/training that fulfils the need of a community to an extent there is no skill shortages in all sectors.

    I remember one of my friends told me the Swiss authorities even go talk to the various minority communities and encourage them to allow the children to flourish in the Swiss system as suppose to drive them all to be engineers/accountant/doctors/lawyers etc. Many people in their adult life able to have well paid jobs to have an enjoyable life it does not matter what they do…..no fake prestige rule the day and society diversify and be empowered too. This also stop the need for so much of foreign workers in various sectors brought from outside that affects local communities too over and beyond the minimum need.

    If we can stop bickering on constitutional issues and work together there is no limit what can be achieved. Now we are no longer the frogs in the well should make us chose the best and refits the systems as required from all around the world to benefit our Mother Land.

  • 2
    0

    The National Education Commission produced an extensive report in 2017 on General Education (meaning school education) with many sensible recommendations.
    It was presented to the President after much difficulty in securing an appointment and then to the Prime Minister. Sweet words were exchanged but nothing came out.
    Proposals like not calling politicians to school occasions were observed in the breach. In fact, the then Minister of Education announced that politicians should be invited to schools.
    There is a new NEC since then, and the report has been shelved it appears.

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      Exactly,The problem remains that our politicians are only interested in securing power,how to un do what the previous government did(everyone who comes to power will un do all what was done before),concern mainly about their constituancies,and how to win the next election.By the time all this is done 4 years over another election and then their only interest is securing votes.Where indeed is long term plans.I see them as arrogant,self centred bunch.Singapore spends 2.,5% of its GDP on education,of course it 12.5 billion since they have the money to spend.Initial years the spending on education was more since Singapore believed in building a strong foundation.CWW Kannangara may have had great visions when he introduced free education but his mother toungue policy is questionable.To build a society that respects and accepts other cultures,races the education system is the ideal foundation.

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        shyamalee,
        .
        Today, with so much of migration, we should speak not of a “Mother Tongue” so much as a “First Language”. I think that about a hundred years ago there was this theory of a mystical mother tongue in which the student would learn better than in a foreign language. However, it is true that when a child is first instructed, there would be much confusion if the child is plunged straight away into an environment in which the child is ill at ease. My grand-daughters, aged just below six and four respectively, are facing that situation right now – in an inverted way. Details will be in a comment by me above this, in response to an author intervention.
        .
        Your interventions are good. It makes for a friendly atmosphere in which we seek to solutions, rather than outwitting others.
        .
        Kannangara was a great and dedicated man, who was an extremely bright student, and then a teacher. Yes, he believed passionately in education for all citizens, but it is incorrect to say that he is responsible for English being thrown out. Without doubt, he was secondarily a politician, but not one who made any money at all. When he was a student, there were “English Schools” for the elite (drawn from every caste among the Sinhalese). Caste in Northern Sri Lanka – I don’t know, for all that I “never mind my business” when talking about current politics. Ours was still a feudal society and the poorer people who hadn’t got into the “aspirational race” were happy enough to be in their “Vernacular Schools”. All of this ought to be written about at length.
        .
        Would it have been possible to maintain this equilibrium? Probably not, even without the politicians.
        .
        tbc

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        Shymalee,
        be it in edcuational or any other areas, they at large are lack of national policies.That is typical to lanken politics. I got it from Indians, that Indians would never change their national policies whatever the govt would be the next. Latter may well be the reason to maintain India as an Industry nation, depite of the majority being that destitutes (60%). Lanken counterparts instead dont care about any good projects once they came to power.

        I think CBK’s administration introduced tangible reforms to the school education by offering the teachers good salaries. I heard my sister saying, unlike earlier days, now teachers would not be easy at finding any excuses whenever they failed to do their duties. Teachers were bound to respect the guidelines provided to them. But her successor so called MR regime was not kind enough to continue the good projects of CBK adminstration.
        :
        Now I have the feeling the making the nearest as the best school (ලන්ග ම පාසල හොන්දම පාසල කිරීම) is I believe to be one of the best steps they the authorties have taken sofar. More teacher training-programmes will be essential in order the quality of teaching to be maintained. The reason why some parents would risk sending their chidlren to urban schools irrespective of the distances, is the percetion their conditioned minset bear is that urban schools have a good name and their children could get a better education. Anyways, looking at the exam results, parents should now rethink whether to send their chidren that far would have been the best choice However, with govt change, they would not go for it again. This way, they waste state funds on and on.
        tbc

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    If the comment you were looking for what Ranil and Vajira Kariyawasam, for four years they were sleeping and their only concern was Bond Scam. Now they say they turned the education upside down and utter so many lies. what people looking for is Results and not talk.

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