Achievers and 'failures'
There is the customary rejoicing almost countrywide
over those who have performed outstandingly at the G.C.E.
Ordinary Level examination and we too congratulate those
students who have shone brilliantly at this crucial public
examination. A little over 60 percent of the successful
candidates have qualified to study for the G.C.E. Advanced Level
examination and this figure, we are told, is an improvement over
the corresponding qualifying rate of last year. Therefore, there
is enough and more cause for all concerned to be happy.
A little over 3,000 students have obtained A grades in all
nine subjects and this too is an improvement over the
corresponding figure of last year; once again, a cause for
rejoicing. An added notable feature is that the majority of
students who have shone at the examination come from provincial
schools and on this score too a degree of rejoicing is justified
because this is continuing evidence that our revered Free
Education system is continuing to serve the ends for which it
All in all, the examination results this year too are
satisfying and whatever its flaws the state education system
could be seen as 'delivering', particularly if pass rates are
going to be our sole criteria of educational success. Seeing
more and more students qualifying for higher education is most
satisfying to all relevant sections, including the state, and
these are no mean achievements for Sri Lanka.
The state would, of course, have to countenance the problem
of ensuring that these thousands of secondary school students
who thus qualify are enabled to pursue a higher education with
no hassle, but this consideration should not be allowed to take
the shine away from this achievement of the state in keeping the
education system going and in making it an avenue of educational
advancement for our younger generation.
That said, we need to also take cognizance of those students
who have failed to succeed at the recent G.C.E. Ordinary Level
examination. This is the more troubling side of these public
examinations which should have all right-thinking persons
worried. To be sure, the number of 'failures' has decreased this
year slightly, but it is now public knowledge that over 12,000
students have failed in all nine subjects at the examination.
Reasons for a student failing a public examination could be
numerous but not all such 'failures' are resilient enough to
take their setback in the correct spirit. Not all students are
sufficiently resourceful to see their 'failure' as a temporary
lapse and be courageous enough to pick-up the pieces and move on
with their lives, if not continuously try until they succeed.
Many who 'fail', see their 'failure' as something that 'seals
their fate', and this could prove very fatal for the student.
Hence, the reports that some of these students have even taken
their lives. Thus are lives lost irrevocably while in full
We urge that the state and other concerned sections pay more
attention to these 'failures' inasmuch as they appreciate and
commend the achievements of the successful. It should be plain
to see that these students who 'fail' must be encouraged into
continuing with their education. They must be counseled into the
belief that setbacks of this kind do not completely determine
their future. They need to be enthused into persisting with
their efforts. Besides, the public should be counseled into not
regarding these hapless students as 'failures'.
Education reform must be speeded up if these changes in
perception are to be brought about. Generally speaking, students
should be spared the agony of having very few choices when it
comes to academic pursuits. They must be presented with a wide
range of options and each of these options should be seen as