Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hap-hazard, buck shot, trial and error approach to reform of Secondary Education

The Minister of Education has just announced yet another change to the O level syllabus, ostensibly so that students are able to adapt to the A levels! The compulsory subjects are one’s mother tongue. English, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Religion and History. Three additional subjects need to be chosen from the expected subjects at A level. These are expected to be taught from grade 10 as the O levels are done at Grade 11. There are two years to follow the subjects.

Those wishing to do Science at A levels must choose Biology, Physics and Chemistry. Those wishing to do Mathematics should choose Combined Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Those wishing to follow the Commerce stream should choose, Economic Science, Accounts and Commerce. Those wishing to follow the Arts stream which in reality are 90%+ students should choose a language which is other than the mother tongue or English, Buddhist Culture and Civilization, and Drama and Theater Studies.

Consider what this means? We are directing students at the 10th grade to a stream for their future education. Look around you. Do you honestly believe the students at 15 are able to show a clear direction in their field of study at A levels and beyond? In my time there was no Economics, nor Accounts or even Commerce. Should we insist on the majority doe three languages at O levels when they can barely manage with English? Why would those already taking Religion as a subject have to subject themselves to Buddhist Civilization as well? Drama and Theatre Studies should be more a general subject that is only optional for O levels.

In my view the basics at O level should exclude Religion, which should be taught extensively at a much younger age, namely at Primary stage, when kids are most likely attending the Daham Pasalas. My O level list for students would go as follows:
Mother tongue, English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and one other of either Combined Maths, Commerce (encompassing a hybrid of economics and accounting as well) Drama, Art or Literature(of the language of the mother tongue) and a third language meant for those with a different mother tongue. This makes for 9 O levels which give a complete grounding necessary to all students. There is no reason once this breadth of subjects is chosen to also include a subject called Science and Technology, which is basically IT training, that can be taught at a younger age where students find it much easier to grasp computing and their structures of logic and reasoning. This proposal is rational and reasonable subject to the availability of suitable teachers.


Anonymous said...

Many of changes in our education system have been merely for the sake of changes. We had ignored vocational studies in school education for many many years. I do not see any logic in preparing all students for the university education which is not achievable for the majority who sit for A/L. In O/L years, students should be given a choice to aim for vocational or universality education. raigamahandiya

Anonymous said...

Miracle of Asia.

Led by this group of clowns who couldn't get a job teaching at a western school.

Here they are making education policy.

The students with high aptitude who make it to University are UNEMPLOYABLE

This is mind boggling considering how selective University entrance is.

There are HUGE problems and nobody gives a damn. All anyone talks about is that we are getting some hotel chain to invest in SL.

What a mess.

Anonymous said...

OLs should be comprised of studies that prepare students for their future including potential careers. IMHO, looking to the future, the Key Subjects are English, Sinhala, Tamil, Math, and IT. These should be at a reasonable practical level, not necessarily highly advanced. Then there could be 3 Streams: Science, Arts, and Vocational. Those going into the Science Stream would have, in addition to the 5 Key Subjects, biology, physics, chemistry, advanced math, and advanced IT, with the possibility to replace of of these subjects with one subject from one of the other Streams, for a total of 10 papers. The Stream-specific subjects may be at a slightly higher level than the 5 Key Subjects. Similar relevant subjects should be available for the other two Streams. -- D