Friday, July 13, 2018

Where is the outcry? Gampaha District in the Western Province –In 2016 16.4% of Children under 5 are WASTING, as compared with 11.4% in 2006!! WHY?


WHY? WHY?

What does wasting mean? Undernourished/ Malnourished

Please read the link below in full in yesterday’s Daily Mirror Newspaper, to appreciate and understand the true extent of Child Malnourishment in Sri Lanka today. While politicians are fighting each other and jockeying for position, our kids are starving, due in most part to their policies.


Shame Shame Shame, for the most populous and supposedly the most prosperous district, in 10 years to increase malnourishment from 11% to 16%.

We are regressing as a Nation in indicators. If Gampaha cannot manage this issue who else can.

So why? Well let’s start with common sense and address this problem rationally.

Its public servants who don’t do what they have been tasked with – STUPID!

Sri Lanka has a very comprehensive system of Public Servants to cover every eventuality. Each of the 335 Divisional Secretariats in the Country has Officers entrusted to all areas that affect the people who live in their catchment areas. So there is an officer ONLY responsible for Children’s Welfare, and there are 33 other positions, like Youth Affairs, Women, Disaster, Agriculture, Health and so on and so forth!

In addition to that each GN division (approximately 100 homes) has a Grama Niladari who is the State Representative who should know about every household, and their economic status and needs. On top of this each GN division also has a Samurdi Niyamaka, whose task is to ensure that the needy receive the basic welfare that the state provides and in entitled to any program that helps them obtain their basic needs.

So “WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING?”

Well they are obviously doing less now than they did in 2006. So what has changed? Well under the previous administration, jobs were given to Samurdi Niyamakas based on POLITICAL PATRONAGE. Obviously during this period the people who are tasked with ensuring that people don’t go hungry, are in fact only stuffing their stomachs and wallets, by ensuring welfare only goes to their friends who don’t need it and not to the poor who need it. Have you now heard this story before.

Well now you have heard the consequence of political patronage – STARVATION OF OUR KIDS – OUR FUTURE

WHAT IS THE YAHAPALANAYA GOVERNMENT DOING ABOUT THIS?

Surely, they could have fired all the Samurdi Niyamakas saying that they have failed in their tasks of ensuring that the needy are assisted.

We know that Gampaha was the worst in stuffing the Public Sector with jobs for the boys, and don’t we know Basil Rajapakse was at the forefront of this exercise.

So why don’t we directly blame Basil Rajapakse for malnutrition as we have the facts to hand?

Because we have people in power who don’t understand what their job specification is and how they can correct the ills of society for which they have been elected.

I am really ashamed about this fact of malnutrition as it is simply unforgivable, and no one seems to have raised this issue before and done something about it.

Why do we send people to Diyawanna Oya Parliament? To swim in the Oya or to work for the welfare of the people they represent? Well on the second point they have not done their basics.

Is the Prime Minister even aware of this? Is the Child Affairs Minister aware of this? Has she given this information to the PM? We waste our time chasing away the State Minister of Child Affairs for wanting the LTTE back, but we say nothing about the fact that we are killing our children with increasing frequency. What kind of priorities are they?

Is mass killing of children less important to put in the news than a woman wishing the return of the LTTE? 

GET YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT FIRST

Dr Siran Deraniyagala – Periodic Human Waves Determine the Genetic Makeup of all who live in Mother Lanka – we had better be prepared for it.




The lecture last evening (12th July 2018) @ the PGIAR, (Post Graduate Institute of Archeology and Research, was to be on Pre Historic Settlements. However Dr Siran Deraniyagala, a former Director General of Archeology, spoke on the arrival of humans through history into Lanka. This was in the presence of a distinguished gathering that included renowned Archeologists, Dr Roland Silva, a former Director General and ex Ambassador Sudarshan Seneviratne, who as Professor of Archeology in Peradeniya University, is the only Chair of Archeology in the University System, among them.

His talk was on the history of human existence in Sri Lanka, and the most likely period in which they initially came, beginning with the present estimate of over 150,000 years ago from South India over the land bridge that would have been there in that period. They have yet to find genetic material to determine if these early humans were Homo Sapiens or a an earlier version, but with more recent arrivals and finds of human skeletal remains, we know for certain that Homo Sapiens – Anatomically Modern Humans are dated to 40,000 years ago, and is equivalent to the earliest finds in all of Asia.

What he says is that prior to the Iron Age, and Agriculture, Humans would have come to Lanka when the carrying capacity in their locations in India were exceeded and a more aggressive wave of humans banished existing inhabitants from their lands and they had no option as hunter gatherers to come to Lanka over the land bridge.

Wave after wave of humans descended upon the other, and with intermarriage merely added to the gene pool, and not until the Iron Age and Agriculture, which then increased the Human Carrying Capacity in Lanka, there was only a limited carrying capacity as Humans had to compete with animals for space.

The earliest inscriptions found date to between 500BC and 600BC and inscriptions immediately bestow a higher form of civilization as data could be passed down to generations more accurately rather than through word of mouth.

Later on as the world developed more waves of people including the arrival of Vijaya, which was BUT ONE of the many waves to descend on this Country, culminating in Portuguese, Dutch and English, who then brought Indian Indentured labor to add to the history of movement of humans into Lanka. As I have noted in my blog posts earlier, there are more humans waves yet to come. This will further add to the gene pool and finally put to rest the fallacy of any pure race concept. Once all the work is completed on gene mapping, perhaps in the next 20 years many of our common pre-conceptions will change.  

Many of  the myths relating to Vijaya and Kuveni will once and for all be dispatched into common forklore, once conclusive evidence emerges with advances in technology. Then even Ravana and his flying machine, that the majority of Sri Lankans still cling to as fact will merely be stuff of fiction.

Have we lost sight of the key ingredient to draw FDI after improving the ease of doing business indicators?


Its the 21st Century Education Stupid

When Samsung decided to invest heavily in Vietnam, they looked first at the labor force, not its cost, but its flexibility in turning out their smart phones in the manner they wanted. They were able to motivate and get productivity and consistency out of the labor force. 

In 2016 Samsung alone accounted for US$40B of exports per annum from Vietnam, all within a period of 15 years, when Sri Lanka's total exports per annum of all products is only US$10B. Further Samsung brand accounts for 23% of total exports from Vietnam. This is HUGE. In 2018 this would have grown further no doubt. So what should Sri Lanka do to try and even attempt at attracting such a manufacturer, as Textiles have limited upside potential?


For Sri Lanka the key in TOTAL FACTOR PRODUCTIVITY, (the essential for an economy to grow, especially with exports), is labor productivity, the most difficult and the only area we have room for improvement if we are to grow, export, and improve the quality of life of even the labor force, both public and private.

A reminder that in the export market, you have to compete on price with the rest of the world, and unless you are competitive, you cannot export if others in other countries can produce for less. So efficiency is the key there and labor productivity is vital, as the capital and financial inputs are the same for all.

I will only concentrate on Education in this essay that is a key component of labor productivity, and we place too little emphasis on this point.

I will give an example to make the point. We all know about baases and how difficult it is to find one, how much their daily rate is, and how they play hookie never turning up when you expect them, because they for some insane reason known only to them, they take on 10 jobs at a time and try to juggle between them, thereby delaying 10 projects by their own folly. We are stuck because of the shortage of baases, while everyone knows that baases are highly paid.

So why are there NO BAASES to supply the demand? Whose fault is it? Why have we not placed more emphasis of putting Baases at the top of the Professional Elite, when they can earn more than Doctors?

These are all societal questions that have not yet been tackled, but MUST be tackled and the answer is Education and Apprenticeship, as the earning potential is for 18 year old to earn a decent daily wage, upon which he can build a skill which will allow him independence in life.

So the answer is taking the easy route. I know personally of the Baas who built a shop for me, who is now driving a three wheeler, which he feels is less juggling and easy money in comparison, despite the higher daily rate. This is very surprising and upon further investigation, this outdoor work at Rs3,000 per day is frowned upon to driving a three wheeler for a net Rs2,000 a day sure and easy money.

So what is the key? Education, a qualification that is recognized. Working in overalls as a mark of high standard all count. We only have to look at Builders in other countries who have to have a certificate of competence before they can undertake such work. They then take pride in their profession and adhere to the standards of the industry in order to build their reputation, part of which will be in taking up assignments and completing them on time for reward, bonus for on time completion etc.
As you may know the past few blog entries have concentrated on the need for Education Institutions to train people, especially people already in the workforce who have not undergone training in the past, which results in poor productivity, which with training has a chance of increasing the productivity soon thereafter.

So both on the job training in the form of apprenticeship schemes, and qualifications that are necessary to take on work will go hand in hand in improving the appalling level of labor productivity that is a massive drag on growth in Sri Lanka.

Back to the paucity of an educated workforce. Instead of by rote learning, our education should concentrate on application oriented learning to meet industry and workplace requirements.

What the private sector requires is people with integrity, who can think and solve problems. Teamwork is an essential part of it as work is done in teams to finish projects to client expectations. The present education system is NOT geared to meeting those requirements and only tests an individuals ability to accumulate knowledge, not problem solving, given a set of challenges.

The private sector do what they can, (limited though to resources available to improve the thinking skills of their staff) however there must be a commitment on the part of the state to change the thrust of education overall to meet these demands.

The fact that education was historically geared to filling government sector jobs, it has not created the workforce needed for the Private Sector. As a result the demand of school leavers is for stable, safe and secure Public Sector jobs. That is what they are trained for, their demands being very limited and their output similarly so. Society is also at fault for encouraging this form of employment and changing this mindset is another challenge, I will not address here.

Unless we turn the whole system on its head, and only train people for Private Sector jobs, the Public Sector can then absorb the benefits of this thinking to make it more efficient, from the new approach. It’s a win win solution for the economy. The sooner we can adopt it the sooner we will see the positive results.

IN CONCLUSION

We can only move forward if we have a determined, leadership that changes the emphasis of learning to meet tomorrow’s workforce, and for that, Education has to be turned on its head literally, and a new culture developed. Can we do it? If we cannot, then stop talking about matching the global marketplace for our citizens. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A University is required just to teach the public sector how to do their jobs properly, as their attitude and behavior has much to be desired.



Let’s face facts of effective employment.

We who work in the private sector – “are at the mercy of our employers” unless of course we own the company. We have NO illusions of that fact. If we don’t perform – we are out of a job. Sometimes we are even fired for doing the job correctly, due to internal politics, where bosses who are incompetent are blind to merit and wallow in gossip, which inevitably lead to the demise of those institutions in the long term. Only the healthy survive.

Entrepreneurial companies can only achieve the next stage of development for survival in the longer term, when they embrace professional standards of operations and good governance, to motivate and build a business with a vions and mission. History is replete with these companies. Bonuses and perks are dependent on profitability, and the whims of the owners or management. THEY ARE NOT A RIGHT!

As for the Public Sector

Frankly in Sri Lanka, none of the above rules apply. No wonder then that they draw the lazy, unambitious, leeches into their ranks, as “servants of the people who they have taken an oath to serve”. Whenever there is a public sector vacancy for a permanent position, no matter what it is, there are thousands of applicants, as it is considered a free lunch if they are hired. Why?

Firing is almost impossible and pension rights are automatic, and pay increments are expected as a matter of right, if the cost of living goes up, NO MATTER the state of the economy. Collective bargaining is the norm.

WORSE, during the administration of former President Mahinda Rajapakse, (2005-2014 a period of 10 years) 600,000 were added to this already overweight carder. Teachers were recruited with no qualification, so it is hardly surprising that most people were recruited as political appointments and not for ability, competence, qualification or aptitude.

APTITUDE in my opinion should be the KEY today for any job, and the private sector have their own means of recruiting by looking at this as a must requirement, if they are to contribute to the success of their organization.

My essay today is to concentrate on aptitude and training, both of which are vital for an efficient public sector, however you look at other factors.

In an earlier blog entry I recommended the conversion of a large Army Camp, within a National Park, of which there are many at present, as a University/Diploma awarding institution to train our Environment Protectors, namely employees of the Wildlife Department, Forest Department, Civil Security Department and others engaged in protecting our Biodiversity, and Archeological Heritage. Special skills are required before we can let them loose in the field of work. Few currently operates this way, or have such skills, with incompetent buffoons engaged in most of these positions.

So in this essay, the rest need training too. Let me exclude the Teaching Profession out of this University, as they have Teacher Training Colleges, Colleges of Education and Universities where they must be trained adequately before being let loose on Students, be they, pre-school, primary and secondary and tertiary sector, that includes Universities and Vocational Training Institutes.

I wish to point out that fewer than 25% of the teachers even have this modicum of training, so our kids are being taught by people who don’t have any interest in teaching. They take it, so they can leave at 1.30pm, have three months holiday and draw a pension.. My opinion is students should not be taught by those without ability or aptitude, as our kids go in with brains into grade one and leave school, as durr brians in grade 11 or thirteen!! Again that discussion is covered in earlier blog entries, namely on the urgency of training the teachers in the latest learning techniques, to better motivate our youth in getting the best out of them as an essential Human Resource for our Labor Market, now crying out for skills and personnel.

So what about the remainder? Well if statistics are to go by, this Mahinda Rajapakse recruitment frenzy gave jobs mainly to people who don’t even have A levels. It is this political gift of a job, that pays people who are basically non-performing, a monthly salary from the sweat and toil of the citizens taxes, that we must address. This political base believe, no matter how treasonous the leadership were, form a core of the Pohottuwa Constituency!!!

Given that we have this workforce, whether we like it or not, we will have a revolution if they are disbanded and sent home. The next best alternative is to train them in skills, so they are better able to perform on the job. Currently performance is not one that seems to be a basic requirement for the job.

If there is an institution of re-training, where each group of people are gradually taken into another surplus Army Camp that can say house 3,000 people at a time, they should get the basic training needed in discipline, and self-motivation, and aptitude. Then ability and desire can re-direct this carder into fields they are better able to perform in and perhaps prefer. The nation benefits.

To recap, I have excluded, Tri Forces, Environment, Education and Health Professionals and Highly Skilled Professionals, from this Training Program as they must have their own institutions to do the same, and have the skills necessary to perform their public sector jobs efficiently.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What productivity can you expect from the Public Sector, if 300,000 workers spend on average 3 hours a day commuting to Colombo?



The Director General of the Department of Census and Statistics just penned an article about some fact relating to the 1.1M Public Sector workers, excluding the Tri Forces Personnel.


Of the 300,000 who commute to their offices in Colombo, he has not analyzed, because he has not questioned them, on the time they spend commuting. WE ALL KNOW, when we go into an office, at least half the time, the official to whom we have to report, is not at his or her desk. Need I say more on their productivity? They are servants of the people, who they are unable to serve, due to various barriers, least of which is the time it takes them to come to work.

No wonder they are resisting thumb print entry, as it would further prove, that their work day is less than 50% of a private sector worker. No wonder then that there is such a rush for Public Sector Jobs, when we have over 1 million vacancies in the Private Sector.

I have made a proposal earlier in my blog, that this lack of productivity means that their work can effectively be done by less than 50% of the people. LESS THAN HALF or 150,000. With improving technology, much of the mundane work they do can easily be done electronically, and by pooling common resources. So this work they are supposedly carrying out can be done by not more than 50,000 capable people selected from this number.

I have therefore designed a Capital City, far from Colombo, where 50,000 workers can work in three towers along with the housing units where they can live with their families if they so wish or in multiple unit accommodation where they will be charged less, where they can get to their desks within 20 minutes of leaving their homes, as they will be taking an electric train right into the building where they work and just have to take the elevator to their floor.

If this plan is adopted, this is how they benefit, as their housing costs living in the Colombo suburbs will be drastically reduced, their commuter times almost eliminated, their efficiency and job satisfaction will rise by eons, and they will have more leisure time on their hands as well as more disposable income in their hands. It will then only be the foolish who will refuse such an offer. 

The stumbling block then is the lack of visionary leadership in this country to make it happen, and to that end we should look at changing the way we elect leaders.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rescue of the Thai Wild Boar Soccer Team from the Caves – Overshadowed all other news. Is that good?




No one can be blamed for being glued to screens waiting for the latest status report of the rescue effort of the 12 boys and their coach. This especially so as they have been rescued in batches of 4 on consecutive days, and the expectation is that all will be rescued on the final day, Tuesday, July 10th.

The focus of all news channels has been on this exercise and when innocent children are involved, as they just got caught to the rain once they went down to the caves on a casual day out, but could not come out, due to unexpected flood waters filling up the passages, making escape impossible.

The cave diving experts of the world descended on this Northern Thai outpost giving it an aura of a rescue story in installments, (over one week) which is reality made for TV Jackpot, and no news director dare ignore, even if one thought it somehow wise to connect people with more important matters.

The casualty of this week was the devastation caused by the Japanese Floods that took second fiddle, along with the international heatwave, because this story caught the people’s imagination and continue to do so.

I want my readers to objectively use this example to realize how we see the news that others want to show us and what we prefer to watch. This means that we may make different choices if we know the facts, but we are not even presented with the facts, in order to make up our minds as to what is more important. This is how news is manipulated in Sri Lanka – big time, and daily!!!

It is a good example of why not to watch news, because not only does it take a lot of time, it is simply like watching a heat wave, wondering if it may become even hotter. It is not something that in the end will make us more knowledgeable or transport us to being higher beings. It is simply watching entertainment also known as news, with the caveat that most of it is lies.

These events are stage managed to maximum effect. Just look at how Thailand has exploited this sudden news with all internet media reporting live from minute to minute and Thailand providing one rescue at a time, adding to the anticipation and success of this project.

The immense tourist value of this as few had known of these remote caves in Northern Thailand is a bonus, as now this place is going to be designated as a National Park with facilities to be upgraded for tourism activity to take place and presumably grow the economy of this area.

125+ have died so far in severe flooding in Japan – isn’t there any support we can offer them in their time of need?



We have been given assistance throughout the ages by Japan, partly in recognition of the support given in international fora by JR Jayawardene, at times when reparations of the Second World War were being discussed.

Sri Lankans don’t realize they live in a Country more fortunate than Japan, we don’t have earthquakes and floods in the way they do, despite some self-inflicted flooding due to poor management of our Environment and Forests.

Despite this handicap, the Japanese have through discipline, hard work and pride, created an Economy that is the envy of the world.

During our internal conflict they even provided a tireless peace Envoy, Mr Yasushi Akashi, who worked behind the scenes for over 10 years in trying to broker a peace, and we have even forgotten his name in our ungrateful way.

Please don’t forget the enormous contributions they have given us in the way of grants to assist us in all manner of projects. Is it Japan that is assisting in building the new Terminal at Katunayake? Isn’t in Japan that is assisting us in the massive expansion of the Kelani Bridge to connect the Katunaryake Highway with the Port City?

I urge this government, constantly infighting over trivia, which has nothing to do with improving the quality of life of our people, to take time out and at least make a statement of Solidarity with the people of Japan and offer assistance in any means that they wish from us. It is the least we can do for a true friend.

We are always so full our own needs that we forget that Countries that are less fortunate than us have come to our aid in times of need, and we are hopeless at reciprocating. Where is our sense of duty, or generosity at this time of need?

We in Sri Lanka have never faced a calamity in the way that Japan is faced with today. The visuals are simply unbelievable with 5million people being evacuated who may take years to return to their homes. The stoic way the Japanese face these consequences are examples for us too, who complain about every little incident, much of it due to our own poor coordination and planning.

Our inaction in my opinion, is an indication of the “Island Mentality” we continue to maintain, without even realizing we suffer from. It is time we shed it to help another Island that is not fixated with the same Island mentality we seem to be unable to grow out of.   

Monday, July 9, 2018

The extent of drowning deaths in inland waterways is unacceptable – why is there no action on it?




The tragic news yesterday in Ekgal Oya in Damana in the Ampara District of drowning of 4 individuals, due to the boat they were in capsizing, again brings to the fore that NO ONE is pointing out the inherent danger of anyone venturing into a water source not prepared, at least by wearing a life jacket. Prior to making it compulsory, lets think of interim measures that don't need legislation, just common sense.

We have a few social givens that need to change, one of which is the relatively low percentage of people who can swim in our Country. This begs the question! Those who cannot swim MUST wear a life vest when entering a boat that is taking them on a trip or ride, as is a common entertainment. These boats are not prepared for a sudden swell that could overturn them. The boatman sometimes cannot swim, but is not wearing a life vest either, at least so they can help.

We have a Disaster Relief Ministry. They don’t believe it is within their ambit to envision, that even a boat capsizing, however small, is ALSO A DISASTER.

I recommend that there are certain guidelines that are adopted. I know that life vests are expensive, many people who go into the water have to either supply their own life vests or go without them. While I first ask the state to purchase a quantity of vests, available for sale to anyone who wishes to buy them. If the state is able to purchase in bulk they are surely able to get a good vest at a lower cost than if I were to import one. 

So instead of looking at this as a contract for someone to make money on the side, by over-invoicing or make a quick buck at the expense of the consumer, surely we can source quality life vests at a reasonable price, that local communities are encouraged to purchase, and individuals, who are so inclined to do so encouraged to purchase too.

I must admit guilt in going in a dugout in my lake too without a life vest, but if I knew I could purchase a few vests at a reasonable price, I too am willing to stock and keep a few in my home for use by people who venture into the water.

I don’t like life vests doled out by a state institution to anybody FREE, as neither is its value appreciated, as they will stick it inside their home and prevent anyone from using it, nor will they use it themselves.

Those voluntary organizations in Sri Lanka may then purchase some to be used wisely under supervision and tourists in any case demand that they be given life vests and I am sure reputable establishments offer them in such circumstances.

The state must therefore source life jackets for sale and give publicity as to where they are available for purchase, and the price of each. I am sure there is a demand from people who feel they need one. LIVES WILL BE SAVED.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Which School? State / Private / International – it all depends




All parents want what is best for their kids, within their ability to financially and economically manage the expense and commitment.(commitment which is very important is often forgotten. That is the commitment on the part of the parent, in time to ensure that the child develops the skills they are interested in developing and are good at, but are not dissuaded from by their parents)

For 90% of the kids in Sri Lanka there is no choice, so the above question is moot anyway, as they simply go to the nearest school that is practical. For better or for worse at the scholarship exam, if they do well enough to enter a National School in a principal town, they again have to weigh the pros and cons of sending their child there, by having him or her boarded close to the school with a friend, or relative, if daily transportation is impossible. I know some who opt NOT to make this choice and allow the children to be with his or her friends throughout their education in a local state school.

It is fair to say then that for 90% of children their choices are pre-determined mainly due to location of residence and economic status to use the facilities provided by the state, no matter how good or bad it is. So I personally have NO grouse with the theme “Langama Pasala Hondama Pasala” being used by the government to improve the quality of the local schools.

The game changer here is NOT the facilities the school offers, but the quality of the Principal and the teaching staff, that can eventually determine the success of the child. That is beyond the control of the parents, and therefore it is the DUTY of the state to improve this resource, bearing in mind educational thinking for the 21st Century has moved far ahead of the present syllabus in schools and audio visual teaching methods are sadly lacking despite the ease of introduction, now that the communication links are all in place.

I know a remote village in Ampara that does not have mobile coverage, but the homes have Dialog TV reception, and so audio visual teaching should have already been put in place in such schools where it is difficult to attract good teachers to take up appointment.

I want my readers to know that even in these remote areas, the well to do of the area, if they can afford to, and wish to, somehow manage to get their children into larger (better) National Schools in towns of their choice, as they somehow know their way around the system to ensure they get what they want for their kids.

Not to belabor the point again, in order to improve the quality of our Human Resource for the Future Workplace, we have no choice but to have better teachers, better teaching techniques and more productive learning environments for our kids. Only then can we identify the truly gifted within our population and direct them through scholarships to achieve of their best as that is what we want as a Nation. Frankly, I don’t see any of this happening in practice, despite platitudes to that effect, made for media and public consumption.

NOW TO THE FORTUNATE SECTOR

Now to the fortunate sector, the 10% who have a choice, as in their locations, there are of all sorts of schools, from religious, state, private and international schools. They are the ones who have a problem in making a decision and seem to find it very hard to make what they believe is the right choice for their children.

What I personally think is the question should really come from the child. I am not saying to ask the child, I am merely saying, the parent should understand the child before choosing the school for him or her, as what they feel is best, based on their child’s personality and upbringing and language competence.

There is no right answer, as different children mature at different stages and one must have a common sense approach to school entry. The easiest thing to do first is to do a probability table of their chances of entry to all the schools they are likely to consider, and then make plans accordingly. One should always have plan B & C ready in case plan A fails, otherwise disappointment overcomes one and blames everything that the child does in the future because of the inability of the child to get to the school of their parents’ choice. The reality is that even if you want your child may not be accepted, hence other options referred to above.

No matter where in the world you are, you have an element of luck in the school your child gets into. It is just not in Sri Lanka that this arises. Don’t forget the catchment areas of the best Public (State) Schools in the USA, have extremely high housing costs just because of the quality of the schools, high local property taxes support good more funds for better schools.

In short, however much state intervention there is, the market plays a part. It is simply supply and demand that is at work, and the better schools have various criteria for entry, including tests, and admittance fees in the form of contributions to the Building Funds, because it is the premium that is charged to try and match the supply and demand, no matter how we abhor such practice.

That is why I pointed out the probability of one’s child getting in as being important. One distinguishing factor with international schools is that their syllabus caters to passing an exam of a foreign body, where the results are not accepted by the local state universities and it precludes your children from even gaining entry to the local Medical Schools if that is your wish.

If that is not an issue, then one has to weigh the costs, against the quality of the facilities, teaching staff, recognition of the body awarding O levels or A levels for entry into local or foreign private tertiary Education. Word of mouth is important to meet with parents and children who go to the intended international school to obtain some first-hand research before committal.

Do remember that children can go into the more expensive international schools or private schools after O levels, and so this route does not have to paved before, if financing is a problem. Then depending on the child’s innate ability, making the choice where “you pay your money and get your way”, only if the investment is worth their while, as some kids show aptitude to go on that path and others prefer to do something that does not require an expensive educational investment.

The Biggest mistake parents make is the belief that a school can provide that which is needed for a child to excel. I firmly believe that in the 10% higher economic status families who have a choice, it is the parents who make a better mark on their child, and not the school. If the parent abrogates their responsibility in providing an avenue for the child to explore their skills, whatever they have an aptitude for, in the arts, sports, or personality, they will then automatically excel in their studies, no matter where they go.

There are many sayings, it is better to be the best in a mediocre school, rather than mediocre in the best school. The answer to that depends on the child’s preference. Not the parents. Who said the lifestyle choices the fortunate make are easy? The wealthier one is, the more one has to compete with the Joneses. The peer group, you judge yourself with determines some of the choices you make, that may NOT be appropriate for YOUR CHILD.

Dare I say it, what is good for one of your children, MAY not be good for another, and that is a common mistake parents make, because it is easy. The negatives of that choice only come to light many years later, and I won’t tread further on that topic here.

I believe I need to make just one more observation here, and that is that the SL State Education Syllabus, no matter what language you study in, tests the child’s ability to retain facts more than the child’s creativity. A creative child will fail miserably in the State System and if you have an Einstein or Jobs at home, then an international school foreign syllabus maybe more appropriate.

Bear that in mind when making the choice, as it will mark the child for life. One thing though, count yourself lucky you have this choice, as most children anywhere in the world don’t have a choice of school, they simply go to the nearest school, whatever country they live in.

It is just that on average those schools in foreign lands are more advanced in the areas of learning, (while we remain fixated in a nebulous concept of literacy rate that means nothing in the 21st C)

Sri Lanka, which has still to emerge from 19th Century teaching methods and systems, that take the brightest child at birth and take every bit of personality ability and creativity out of him or her, in 13 years of formal schooling and leave them unsure of what they should do. That is the raw material I interview all the time, blank faces, asking me for any job, when there are a million waiting to be filled, and they have no clue what they want to do!

That is why many parents I know who came up through the State System and made it good, say never again, and put their children straight into the International School system to give them the opportunity THEY WISH THEY HAD, and I see many families, where the parents talk to them in Sinhala and the kids reply in highly accented English. I wish I knew where that accent came from.

I have asked the parents why? They said Sri Lanka is no place for them, we want to give them the chance of working overseas if they wish and an international education is the easiest means of ensuring fluent English and qualifications recognized by overseas Institutions, be they employers, or Universities. So there you have one answer.

The economically able prefer International School education, to get the best from their children’s talent, and many have project based learning and extracurricular activity, that only the elite Colombo State Schools can match.

Finally “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR” generally holds true as there is no free lunch in this world.