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Education: Reforms Need Reform

Jul 10, 2010 2:57:57 PM - thesundayleader.lk

I would like to say a few words about the comments of the Education Minister in on your paper of June 13.

The Minister says that 300,000 students sit for the O/L’s and 240, 000 for the A/L’s every year. He says of this number who sit for the A/L’s only about 130,000 qualify for university entrance.

Remarks: Shortage of teachers for teaching the five main subjects in the schools which creates this ratio of students who do not qualify for further studies. The government giving appointments to those who do not even qualify to teach the primary classes and the fact that this is done to get their vote for winning an election. They do not bother about the catastrophe they are creating.

Some schools have an excess of teacher cadre and some other schools have deficit. — The Sunday Leader Pg4 of 13.062010.

Remarks: This is because a politician wants his/her supporter to be attached to a particular school while ignoring the available cadre or the required cadre of that particular school. The only thing that matters is to put his/her man/woman in to that particular school. This renders the regional directors and other authorities impotent.

The ratio of the teachers is not equal to the student population and this will cause problems in the future. The government simply calls applications and holds an examination to select teachers for the main stream of the education sector but the criteria for selection is not considered when appointments are made. Here external factors come into the scene, such as those sitting the examination get hold of a politician to get the appointment without considering the qualification the person holds and not considering the ability of the person to handle students.

The primary education system has been changed many times in the present era because every minister who comes to power when the government changes tells some stories to the nation and puts his/her two cents to change the entire system and spoiling it. They do not consider if it is suitable for the current global market. But they do not consider the fact that primary education is the foundation for the future of the country. They say that the old model is not good for the students and as such he/she is under stress.
The present system of education has been designed by professionals and intellectuals but the failure of this system is that we are adopting it in a way that does not suit our children and our culture.

Educational reforms should be tested before being implemented but here the Minister simply changes the entire system without any consideration for the plight of the nation’s student population. Thereafter a new minister comes to power and says the system is not suitable for students. Then the whole process is repeated. Presently a large number of students do not pass the Maths subject because the foundation is not given properly. In the primary classes the students are not taught properly and the parents do not know how to help their children because the syllabus is not understood by them.
Many committees are appointed to examine the system but they ignore the practical aspect. Our education system now produces thugs and murderers.

When it comes to educational reform there should be open debate and public opinion must be sought before any new policy is formulated. We must look at models in other countries that suit us. Once a policy is decided on it must be first implemented in one or two areas and the results must be studied. Then only, depending on the success rate should the new reforms be implemented in the entire nation.

A. C. Ariyaratnam