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Saying No To Free Education

Jul 5, 2010 12:31:16 PM - thesundayleader.lk

Because it just makes sense. Let me outline my case.

The current education system is mainly Government funded, and there are four main phases, being Primary (Grade 1-5), up to Ordinary Level (Grade 6-11), Advanced Level (Grade 12-13) and University. Whereas a hardcore capitalist would make the argument for complete private education, I’m more in support of a dual system, where the Government provides the basic (upto Ordinary Level or Advanced Level) education, and then the Private institutions take over.

My ideal student would be given Government funded education upto completion of Advanced Level (either by means of Government funded schools, or education in private schools paid for by the Government). When he or she reaches the stage where they want to pursue higher education (University Degree), then there would be several options available. The term Private Education Institution in this post, can, and is, also used to describe Government Universities which would charge for education.

  • Pay for your degree – If you  or your parents can afford to pay for the degree, then pay for it. No questions asked.
  • Take a loan – Banks or financial institutions which would provide student loans to cover the cost of obtaining a university degree. I’m open to the option of Government intervention here. If the degree programme takes three years to complete, the repayment plan would have a three/four year grace period where repayment is postponed (which would allow the fresh graduate to secure employment), and then repayment begins. Government can intervene in the form of subsidising the interest, or even a part of the loan itself. But the principle would remain: if you want to study, pay for it yourself.
  • Bonds – Either the Government or private corporations would pay for your degree, if you’re studying what they want. So a hypothetical chemical corporation would pay for a Chemistry degree, where the student would then work at the company for a set period, for pay. The same would work for Government. I know for a fact that this format for studies is even now implemented in some research organizations such as the Tea Research Institute, where employees who wish to read for a Masters or a Ph.D, sign a bond with the research institute for a set period, and they are given leave and expenses in return. My argument is bring it down a few notches, and make it available at the degree level itself. Potential employers can then get the cream of the crop, catered, mentored and trained to specifically fit the jobs that are open to them.
  • For deserving students who cannot afford either of the three, then there should be a scholarship system available. Whilst the Government can fund some of the Scholarships, I foresee private institutes, philanthropists, foundations and even international agencies coming in for funding of the scholarships. This can be awarded on a merit and a needs basis, to the most deserving, and best students.

My underlying argument is that when there is a cost involved in completing a university degree, there would be a conscious choice made about why the student is doing the degree, and there would be more choice available as well. Private universities should also be encourages to start up, to provide affiliate degrees. There are numerous institutes in Sri Lanka now, who offer various levels of qualifications in affiliation with foreign universities. The same can be applied to local Government run Universities, where a Royal Institute would then be able to award a degree in affiliation with the University of Colombo.

There is no person left out, in the education system that I propose. If you’re talented, then you can get a schol. If you’re rich, pay for your damn education. If you really want to study, but you’re not rich nor are you an outstanding student, then sign a bond or take a loan.

If you don’t fall into either category, I don’t think you should do a degree in the first place. Tough.

Further Reading – The post was triggered by something that I saw here, a lame attempt to counter the arguments against private education. I don’t mind people getting this, since I guess the original post was, in fact, an attempt to get traffic.

PS: There is something that I call the Pali cycle. A student does Pali, Buddhist Civilisation and Sinhala Literature for his Advanced Levels. Three subjects (which in my view) have no real life applications. Then he gets to University, and completes a degree Majoring in Pali. He comes out, and now he doesn’t have a job, because hey, there are no openings for people who are Pali specialists, except in, wait for it…

TEACHING PALI! So he goes on to teach Pali in schools, and he teaches it really well. Students learn Pali, do Advanced Levels, and the cycle continues.

This post is syndicated from The End