Sunday, October 23, 2011

Education Policy - Suggestions for an overhaul Part 3

The further I delve into this subject, I get the sense that there is a completely different picture of what the laypman in Sri Lanka seems to believe about education. The use of our high literacy rate when we pompously talk about our attributes hides an enormous void in our education. Just think of the 10,000 schools in Sri Lanka, which I propose to gradually reduce to 6,000 for the sake of productivity. We only have 600 that teach science subjects at A level. That’s right only 600, while only 100 schools produce the annual entry into Medical College, considered to be for those with the best results Island wide. The question becomes do we help the best schools more or try to have science taught in 6,000 or just increase it from 600 to 1200?

The short answer to that is that we must learn to walk before we can run. Let us set up some realistic goals and try to achieve these such as by increasing the science stream trained teacher quantum so that more schools can teach science subjects.

I ask again to look at the A grades in A levels and you will find the majority in the following subjects, Buddhist Civilization, Sinhala, Political Science and Geography. They come to me assuming that they are thus highly in demand! Why is it left to me to burst their bubble? Someone should explain the facts of life!

In yesterday’s Sinhala paper, the Lankadeepa, an event where the Education Minister has supplied 3,100 teachers in the fields of Visual and Performing arts was highlighted. However what was not said was that this was a means to employ 3,100 graduates who have been sitting at home waiting for an appointment! It is easy to train them for a month and send them to schools. This is just adding to the problem, not reducing it, all in the interests of political expediency. From my knowledge the Minister is a highly accomplished teacher, who owns a tutory. He should know more than most what is needed to be employable. Why is he acting in this manner? Is it because he is just given a measly allocation of funds and told to be grateful for even that? I don’t know the answer, but the policy makers ‘suck.’

The free education system is no longer free, when parents have spend fortunes transporting children to schools, and then spend another fortune getting the school teachers to teach their kids after school at tuition classes. Do they not teach kids at schools? I did not go to tuition classes, but maybe if I had my grades would have been better, I don’t know!

Smaller class size plays a part in the quality of education, as teachers can give individual attention to failing students, who are now ignored. This is a category that requires special help as they now become early dropouts before O levels.

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