In a state that is now aspiring to a GNP per capital of $2,500 per annum this year, the Private Education sector in Sri Lanka is growing by leaps and bounds, along with the market forces of supply and demand. This is throughout the country and not restricted to the Western Province. I know of poor parents one of whom is overseas primarily to fund their children’s private education in the belief that it is the only way their children will get a good education today in Sri Lanka.
I am a product of private education throughout, and my parents had to make a significant sacrifice to do so. I am aware therefore of the rationale for this sacrifice, as they value education and note that the State sector is failing miserably. I have referred to this in earlier blog postings, where teachers supplement their income by providing tuition to the same kids they teach in the state schools. This is simply better off parents voting with their wallets to opt for private education in preference to state education, due to a whole host of factors, which include schizoid approach of the Government to dealing with this issue. They have simply lost faith. I know of parents who cannot speak English who send their children to International schools whose medium of learning is English and the exams their kids are trained for are the foreign ones from the UK. When I ask them why they do this they simply say that they have no other choice to ensure that their kids will get a good education. They further point out to the proliferation of private tertiary institutions which accept these results for their intakes unlike the University system in Sri Lanka that only accepts the local O and A levels.
There is one problem with International Schools. They are not regulated by anybody, and it is up to the parents to do their own investigations before choosing their suitability. There will no doubt be some bad apples that take them for a ride!
It is worth remembering that private schools, Trinity College, Kandy as an example are fee paying schools. They offer the Sri Lanka syllabus of O and A levels, but therefore are regulated by the Ministry of Education and must abide by many rules that state schools are guided by. In order that kids of poorer families also have a chance, then bursaries and scholarships is the only way to ensure some form of equity, to obtain a sprinkling of high quality students, from lower income households. I know for a fact that they are currently facing a dilemma, namely whether to increase the fee scales to attract a better quality of teacher to improve the standard of education at the school. If that happens it will be impossible for a greater section of the population, including some old boy’s children from entering the school. We cannot get away from the fact that “RESOURCE” equals quality.