Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So much for Education – what a waste!


The irony of life is if you don’t have an education you want it, and if you do, you wish you had not. Today’s Washington Post headline reads, “Armed with PhDs scientists fail to find jobs.”  Also stated in the Newspaper was that in the league of College degrees, Architects had the highest unemployment rates whilst graduates in the Healthcare field the lowest, indicating that in a population that is aging and a country, that spends a whopping 20% of GNP on health care, still appears to need more healthcare professionals.

So how does the country manage its Education? What education options should a country such as Sri Lanka adopt?

I believe it is a no brainer to have a quality Primary and Secondary school system, so that students learn the basics. How far the secondary education should go is still open to debate, as some say, there is a large segment, who should terminate at O levels and go straight into a vocational training establishment. The resources MUST be directed at that. The argument then is on tertiary education. How much? What? And how advanced? It all depends on the aims.

In Sri Lanka the govt. has made a decision to train nurses, degrees and/or diplomas, but with a view to exporting them to the US! Now why is that when we have a huge shortage of nurses? They want the foreign exchange in preference to a better health care system I suppose. These are all choices that are made. Who makes these choices? And under what basis are they made? Are they sanctioned after public debate or are they on a whim of a politician who has some self interest in the project?

It is worthwhile considering all these questions when determining the options. The main thing here is not to train people to an extent where they are unemployable in the current market place, whilst we have a huge dearth of qualified people for a whole host of jobs in Sri Lanka.

Then there is the skills matching problem, which if we had an established vocational training scheme, would look at the demand and supply of each job category and determine the level of resources to direct to which. In fact it is easier to direct resources to needed jobs either in Sri Lanka or overseas by these Vocational Institutes than with Universities.
One must also not forget the substantial amount spent in Sri Lanka today on private education. This includes, private Montessori schools even in villages where children are sent, and also tuition classes, to say nothing of the number of crammers preparing students for internationally accredited qualifications, such as CIMA, CIM and ACCA to name just a few. Now IT institutes crop up almost daily to cater for the demand for accredited IT degrees that enable people to get instant employment.

It must also be remembered that the SLIIT (Sri Lanka Institute for Information Technology in Malabe) was set up as a semi government body that awards degrees, but which is fee levying. NIBM is another which is also fee levying, though subsidized.

There are many more students enrolling in private institutions after A levels than the numbers who enter University. Ironically I was talking to a graduate of the Sri Lanka University system in Management Studies, who said that he would have been better off if he had not gone to University and had done CIMA instead. He is doing CIMA now, but he maintains that graduating at 25 was a waste of time, whereas had be not gone to University and done CIMA he would have qualified and hold a much more responsible position in a private institution as an assistant finance manager or equivalent. He is only now being apprenticed. I should note that he had all A s at A levels and is a bright student.

I personally believe Sri Lankans do far more exams than required. There are so many double accountants for example, and that is not a requirement for their jobs. So is some segment overeducating themselves, because they can afford to do so? It is important for each person to personally evaluate their life goals and plan accordingly rather than believe that the more qualifications one has the better it is for one.

In conclusion the Education mix, the productivity of it and the choices people make mean that whilst many are starved for education there is a segment which is overeducated by choice. The latter I would argue are not necessarily more productive in society. After all there are many hardly educated entrepreneurs who contribute hugely to society through their businesses and productive steps. The real test is how we arm school leavers at every level to enter employment with a skill that is needed and from which they can progress through their personal journey through life. If we start at that point I am sure the benefits will be manifold.


Anonymous said...

there's a simple solution to brain drain.

make the people that leave the country following their education financially responsible to reimburse the state for the expenses incurred to it from the education of the migrants. if they don't have money to pay, seize their property and any future property they purchase in sri lanka until their debt, with interest, is repaid to the state. problem solved. kalpakarannnnnnnnnna

Anonymous said...

With this type of comment it is clear that Sri Lanka is not going anywhere.

Without freedom of movement for talent, there is no motivation for people to excel.

Free education is privileged to receive the talent that it does in its universities, and the education they receive is a disgrace compared to their intellect.

I don't know why I am commenting anymore. It is obvious that the country is doomed and we will see 200 to the rupee and then 2000 after unless there is a change in government.

SL is a sick state. Very depressing for those of us trying to make a go of it over here.

Anonymous said...

"Without freedom of movement for talent, there is no motivation for people to excel."

This is nonsense. People should not get freely educated because they want to move out of the country but they get educated to develop one's talents for the betterment of themselves.

Motivation to excel comes from perceived rewards -- either personal satisfaction or monetary rewards.

They are no help to the country if they leach the tax dollars to get a world class education -- which they'd have to pay thousands for in other countries -- only to move to other countries without returning dividends to the society for freely educating them.

Give me a break, Jack. If they leach from the state and leave, they need to reimburse. It's basic policy.

Anonymous said...

Put yourself in the freely educated persons clothes.

He/she has worked hard, made many sacrifices.

Leaders of his/her country are thieves and thugs.

Why do they want to work to contribute to the economy and perpetuate the rogues being in power.

Why don't they just get a job for Microsoft, make a good salary, and support their family?

People need a choice on where they want to live, what system they want to support, and what cause they would like to contribute to.

I don't blame anyone who is averse to taxes or any benefit to the SL government. It actually only hurts the people as they help to perpetuate slavery at the hands of our dictators.

Anonymous said...

so the way to solve a problem is to take as much as you can and then run leaving everyone else cleaning up the mess??? please.

imagine what sri lanka could have been like if all of the intelligent educated people stayed rather than moved to australia and the uk to pursue their own selfish dreams -- facilitated by "rogue" regimes that gleefully pilfer what should be future social dividends from sri lankan society after investing 18+ years of taxpayer funds in their education and upbringing.

if they leave the country to contribute to another society they should reimburse the society that made them 'worthy' to be accepted by the otherwise racist societies of the west.

Anonymous said...

HA! If they stayed in Sri Lanka Microsoft would have set up operations there -- or risked facing a Sri Lankan competitor that emerged from all of the brilliantly educated folks in SL!!