Friday, February 10, 2017

The Free Education Myth

While I believe EVERY civilized society MUST provide an excellent (FREE) foundation for a child’s basic education up to O level standard (age 16), thereon, NOTHING should be free.

Try to keep this old saying in your head as it applies to education also!

 “Good things NO cheap, Cheap things NO good!”

This is where Sri Lanka has got it all wrong. The Kannangara Reforms were correct, but only up to the O levels, and in an era when few places were open for A levels and University the additional cost was not great and the quality of education received by them was also good so at the initial stages I don’t believe the costs were untenable as it is now becoming to provide A level and Tertiary Education FREE.

Many would argue that the Country is NOT even spending 2% of the GNP on Education, let alone the recommended 6%.

To counter this  my argument is, that in the end the State has NO clue on how to spend without wasting money either, so that point is MOOT as I don’t believe we have a cost and value conscious mindset in the Public Sector to prioritize with the recipient’s (Student’s) best interest in mind. The simple example was the increase in Education Allocation last year when compared with the previous years, and the Public Servants were unable to spend any of it as they were just geared to do short term expansions when there were NO human resources to draw on in the first place.

The powerful teachers unions still don’t realize what a tragedy their contribution or lack of it has been to the students who are their charges, as they are trying to defend the rights of the Teachers in much the same way that the IUSF are trying to defend the rights of the Undergraduates, with only a politically motivated issue being traded instead of actually increasing the quality and ability of the Teaching Staff to meet the student needs of 2017. No they don’t care about their charges one bit!

In this politically expedient desire of trying to please ALL COMERS, nothing is done well, and we are left with a mediocre HR resource, with the best seeking employment overseas, be it temporary or permanent, with most of my readers coming from this permanent category, forsaking their country for their family’s well being.

A band of poorly educated second class mass is all that is left in Sri Lanka, under the present State Education system due to this Free Education demand. They are then ready to be exploited by the 8th grade cunning and opportunistic politicians, and savvy businessmen, who are both collectively able to exploit this mediocrity for their own advantage.

As a result of this history, we can neither blame the “Savvy Businessmen” and “Cunning Politician” who both combine their resources to “Fool the Masses”. This is as old as history and what Marx and Engels saw, but the left of the political stage in Sri Lanka, be they the initial Communists, Trotskyites, LSSPers, and later the JVP were never able to galvanize the thought process as their whole “MANTRA” was about exploitation of the working classes by the Capitalist Establishment that included the two classes referred to earlier who still hold sway.

They were never able to clearly see that there was NO such conscious plan by the Sri Lankan Elite, except to use their advantage of birth and contacts and relationships, to take advantage of this people’s “MINDSET” for their own ends.

WHAT IS THIS MINDSET? Simply the cultural inability to work together as one for the “COMMON GOOD”, even in one’s own home in the face of this BEHEMOTH!

The only way to change the “MINDSET” even today and it can easily be done as a collective effort if necessary, is if we begin with a blank sheet of paper, look at our most precious human resource, those children ages 2 to 4 before they go to Primary, determine what as a Nation they should be as productive citizens in our society, and once this is known, gradually instill the fundamentals through the next 13 years of formal education to reach that goal or target. No doubt some will fall by the wayside, but if we have a 50% success rate that is more than enough to be a game changer. It is not easy it is not quick but it is proven.

War Ravaged Korea did this at grass roots level in a scorched land at the end of the Korean war when people HAD to eat whatever that moved or grew for survival to get to where they are now. We did not suffer as much so it is that much harder to make the effort!

We in Sri Lanka have many examples from all over the world and we should adapt our own home grown version of this, to select the best approach to achieve this goal, with the latest technology at our disposal, using distance learning techniques, drones, and 3 D printing.

If only Sri Lanka had spent its total Education Budget up to the O level standard, in producing the visionary empowered and motivated workforce, they will then choose their tertiary model for which they will gladly pay, and the best be awarded scholarships due to the competition amongst institutions for the best, and we will not be in the mess we are currently in, due to poor decisions making back then!

We would have a more proportionate dignity of labor today, where the Farmer and Electrician earning Rs200K a month may have a higher status than doctors on Rs100K, and NOT create a false elitism that dogs our society. This will be at the equilibrium of supply and demand of labor in the marketplace, without built in barriers to mobility that now result in import of labor for construction and tourism, when we have huge waste of labor in under-utilized areas such as three wheel drivers!

Mark you because the Left never really understood these basics they could NOT find traction, and now the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) is trying to gain traction as its successor. They are trying to agitate for the same bankrupt ideas, by appealing to the educated professionals in the hinterland highlighting the business as usual theme that the present YAHAPALANAYA Govt is indulging in.

They will ONLY impoverish society if their demands are met, by frightened politicos, instead of EMPOWERING IT.

Why is it so difficult for the present crop of politicians to  change this status quo in one stroke of a pen by passing new legislation when they have a 2/3 rds majority in the Parliament? The system surely needs a radical overhaul. Is it because they don’t care a damn about the Country or its future, as their personal and family futures are assured be it here or overseas, by their legal or illegal modus operandi? They as a whole are simply worrying about the next election cycle, that has been the bane of this 70 year independence history!

My contention is that to change if we are able to harness the most radical of the lot, namely students, to see the light from their darkness! They must first realize that they have been following the same PIED PIPER to their graves all these years, and they must do a complete U turn to take the initial group of COURAGEOUS YOUTH to explain the facts, simply and truthfully.



Anonymous said...

" An appeal to the Bankrupt Professionals like Doctors in our society and in the hinterland"

They are imbibed with a sense of entitlement, but see no relief from the system, and now the FSP is appealing for their moral soul! as the answer to their conundrum or frustration. I say don't just think for a moment what their real motives are!

They are just another political party, which is pretending to be NOT as they say they don't have a leader, just a philosophy as their guiding light.

They are opportunists seeking to amass political power and gain a following from professionals like you to seek legitimacy.

Instead put your energies individually to form a JUST SOCIETY which is NOT the aim of the FSP. Though they may claim to. It is still trying to give re-birth to bankrupt socialist ideas that will NOT work with the Sri Lankan psyche of materialism in the face of the opposite espoused by Theravada Buddhism which is anathema to the people!

Sri Lanka's future can only be assured by a temporary political class as in people only allowed to hold elected office for one term in their whole lives. Therefore they will make up of working people, professionals and proven businessmen, even street cleaners and grave diggers can apply as they know far more about how to run the Country than the current political elite!

This will minimize the scourge of corruption, ensure the law is equal to all despite economic status, and all advancement will be merit and ability based, and not of the old school types!

All laws will then be enacted NOT to help businessmen increase their profits as is now the case, but but to ensure an environmentally sustainable society, for you and your children. A place that will actually exist in 50 years, as present policy is turning it into a desert.

Country first for survival into the 22nd Century and the people of the Country will be the second. So putting the Country before the people!

The current political class will disappear, they will have NO traction need or relevance. Those elected will have power for only one term, so policies not people will take center stage. This voluntary service will ensure the Counry's survival NOT at the expense of their personal survival, just think about it

Anonymous said...

Just think about it if we had to pay for our A levels, first we will choose the best school we can get into. Then the schools will have to prove that they have good teachers, as even today, ALL Royal boys go to Tuition Class and in future you will never send a son to a school and pay and then send him to tuition also! SURELY

This will force the schools to improve the quality of the teachers as you have to pay, and like you rightly said you pay for what you get. If you want excellent teachers you simply have to pay. That is why the system is failing our kids because the teacher quality is pathetic, and good teachers get jobs in private schools willing to hire the best.

It is simply a self fulfilling prophecy you just cannot get out of today. No mater how well intentioned you are and so we are currently sending all our kids to Tuition factories anyway making a complete mockery of SCHOOLS as they are never at school in those final years, and even the 80% attendance rule is flouted flagrantly by the even the best schools!

Anonymous said...

The importance of pre-school education cannot be stressed more clearly. All Govts MUST put funds into training Montessori type teachers as all the investment will earn a return hundred times the cost to the Country. It is simply a no brainer.

The reason wealthy kids get a head start is that they are sent to good well reputed such schools before the main school and are able to handle the stress and demands of main school before many in the villages schools can even learn to say BOO.

So please if we are to beging today, get the best to do montessori teaching course and promise 100K+ salaries for the most accomplished, then you will have the best going there as they ned the best teachers of ALL

Anonymous said...

කුහක දොස්තරලා කොන් කරමු.. සයිටම් දොස්තරලා විතරක් චැනල් කරමු..