Education and Human Resource Development
“Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the Politicians” -
Charles de Gaulle
When India achieved Independence in 1947, after a long and bitter
struggle, one of its first tasks was to establish a permanent National
Planning Commission which has consistently guided, for six decades,
whichever party that was elected to power in India.
Sri Lanka on the other hand had no such Permanent Planning Commission
and the policies adopted have been based on ad-hoc decisions of
successive politicians. Fifty nine years after “Independence” there is
no evidence of any rational and consistent policies in Sri Lanka in any
Sector of state activity which could have maintained the “Paradise”
which Lee Kwan Yu strove to emulate.
The OPA Annual Sessions for 2007 is designed to galvanise “Sri
Lankans to Reawaken Sri Lanka as Paradise Isle”. It will focus on a
comprehensive and mutually consistent framework of policies for every
sector of state activity and determine the goals that should be pursued
by this and future governments.
The policies presented at the Annual Sessions on September 14, 15 and
16 need to be so compelling that it would be difficult, if not
impossible, for our elected representatives to disregard them.
The policies required to achieve self-sufficiency in Food, were
referred to earlier. Addressed below are policies in respect of
Education and Human Resource Development.
Education is acquiring necessary knowledge. While acquiring
knowledge, the individuals should be self-motivated and should develop
necessary skills and attitudes to be competent enough to do a specific
job. Also they should possess all human qualities to live and perform
their duties as true human beings, irrespective of their position.
Primary and Secondary Education
A question that parents face today on admission of a child to a State
School is “on what basis is a child assigned a particular medium of
At present, the basis is “the mother tongue” of the child. If the
parents are Sinhalese the medium of instruction is Sinhala and if the
parents are Tamil, the medium is Tamil. Neither the child nor the
parents have any choice.
However if a child attends a Private or an International school,
invariably the medium is English. In the same family if one child is in
an International school his medium of instruction is English, whereas
the child who attends a state School has to study in Sinhala or Tamil
even though both are children of the same parents.
It is a fact that the demand for admission to the International
Schools is heavy in spite of the fact that they charge high fees.
There are many reasons for it. Many of the parents do not get schools
of their choice, particularly in the urban areas. The demand is for the
popular national Schools, where only a limited number could be admitted.
The rejects turn towards the International Schools. As a rule people are
not satisfied with the facilities in Government Schools or the standard
Another important reason is the medium of instruction. Today there is
a big demand for English. The affluent opt for the English medium,
thinking in terms of higher education overseas. Others of course think
of foreign exams that are available in Sri Lanka through Private
The increasing numbers of small schools being closed, is another
matter of grave concern. During the past few years, particularly during
the last 02 years, a large number of both rural and urban small schools
were closed down. This is a very dangerous trend and immediate remedial
measures should be taken to arrest this.
The danger is that it can create many social problems. Today, “the
rich are getting richer and richer while the poor are getting poorer and
poorer”. In Big schools the numbers are rapidly increasing while in the
small schools numbers keep on dwindling and end up with the closure.
Perhaps with the best of intentions the authorities close the small
schools and transfer the children to neighbouring schools with better
facilities. However this system does not guarantee that children of the
closed schools go in to other schools and the new entrants would go into
the new schools. Without closing a school urgent measures should be
taken to refurbish and restore such schools to be on par with, or even
better than, those in the urban areas.
Our aim should be for quality education which means high academic
standards and other aspects like Peace Education, Value Education,
Fostering International Awareness and Global Education.
It is not merely a case of imparting knowledge. Education should
prepare students to face future challenges with confidence. We have the
highest level of literacy in the South Asian region.
However, according to the Examination Commissioner’s report on the
last GCE (O/L) exam, more than 50% of the students have failed in
subjects like Mathematics, Science and English, after 10 to 11 years of
According to the National Education Commission, a fair number of
students in grade 6 could not write at all. These two examples of the
number of students who fail all 08 subjects at the GCE (O/L) Exam must
compete us to realise the falling standard of education in our country.
All students who have failed cannot be considered as duds. The
obvious conclusion is that the system has failed.
But, the Big Question is “why”? Today, the so-called big schools
(National Schools) are like factories. The average number in a class is
over 50 students. Another reason for standard to go down is the
unqualified or under qualified teachers.
To quote one example, a few years back a few thousand teachers from
“Jana Saviya Families” were given teaching appointments, and in the
recent past a fair number of graduates were given teaching appointments.
On both occasions these people were appointed not with the idea of
improving the standard of education, but purely to solve the problem of
There has to be a system of In-Service training. Today once a person
joins as a teacher, perhaps till retirement, there is not further
At least once in every 03 or 05 years In-Service training programmes
should be organised for teachers to be in touch with the modern trends
in education, learn new methodology etc.
We have to devise proper in-depth supervision or a system to evaluate
In this context the relevant Ministry should:
* Be named as the Ministry of Education and Human Resources
* Be in charge of the subject of Education at all levels, with
secretaries in charge of the sub-sectors of General Education,
University Education, Higher Education, Tertiary and Vocational
* Work in conjunction with the National Education Commission on the
formulation of National Education Policy at all levels of education.
National Education Policy should be formulated so as to develop each and
every child to become individuals who are equipped to be members of a
pluralistic society; with the concept of deep learning and the
importance of Life Long Education; to become self motivated and
disciplined learners; with the awareness of practices for healthy living
and balances growth.
* While being responsible for co-ordinating all academic aspects of
education, it also should give directions on the total Human Resources
Development aspects through Religious, Sports, Cultural, performing Arts
and other extra curricular activities.
The Ministry should liaise with
* The Organisation of Professional Associations on course of
Professional Education conducted by its member Associations.
* The Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission on Tertiary
Education courses through its registered Private and Public Sector
* The BOI on Education courses provided by institutions established
as business enterprises.
The Ministry should:
* Promote and strengthen linkages among different sub-sectors and
also with courses of professional Associations.
* Delegate the appointments of all staff at Educational Institutions
where appropriate to Provincial/ District level and co-ordinate
transfers of such staff when requested by staff.
* While ensuring National Education Policy and Standards are
maintained at Provincial/ District level, conduct all public
examinations and issue certificates of award.
The Quality of Education
* The Ministry should develop mechanisms for maintenance of National
Quality Assurance Standards and relevance of education through
establishment of a National Quality Assurance and Accreditation Body.
This should be an Independent unit equipped with qualified staff.
* At regular intervals, the Ministry should collect from schools
necessary information on management, social conditions, adequacy of
funds and teachers and compare that with the performance of students at
O/L and A/L. Based on these evaluations suitable steps should be taken
to improve the performance of students.
Quality of Teachers
The Ministry should; through sub-sectors
* Identify and organize different training programmes for all levels
of teachers to improve their performance.
* Work out schemes to assess the quality of teaching.
* Work out the schemes for promotion of all levels of teachers based
on their performance and qualifications.
Private Sector Participation
* The Education Ministry shall establish partnerships with the
Private Sector with a view to securing their support in developing the
Education System at secondary, higher, and tertiary levels with a view
to providing a career path for students who complete their studies, at
whatever level. These shall include:
* Partnerships with the Business Chambers island wide, to carry out
surveys, and to seek their input, as well as establish ways and means of
providing support through their members to achieve the identified
* Harness the services of Social Service Organisations in the
respective Districts/Towns to support and develop their area schools in
providing equipment and facilities.
* Entrust schools in difficult areas to the private sector to be
managed as “CSR” project, in partnership with the Government.
* Provide Tax incentives to the Private Sector in keeping with the
support that is extended, so that there is a short term incentive to
invest in the future.
* Establish partnerships with appropriate Association Members of
different trades, (Construction, Plantation, Pharmaceuticals,
Agriculture, etc, etc) so that they may provide facilities (equipment,
lectures, training centres etc), as well as “in house training” where
applicable, so that students are groomed to join these enterprises once
they pass out.
* Appropriate MoUs to be signed to secure the interests of both
* Develop strategies in cooperation with the private sector to
accommodate students who fail to pass academic examinations but possess
a natural aptitude for different skills, to achieve “Degree” level
Medium of Instruction
The Ministry should:
* Allow students to select what ever langauge (Sinhala/Tamil/English)
they want during their school education.
* Provide sufficient academic support to all schools such as books,
teachers and libraries in all three languages.
* Provide facilities for students to sit Ordinary level and Advanced
level examinations in the language that they prefer.
* Provide necessary facilities for all students to improve their
knowledge of, and communication skills in English.
* A career guidance and orientation unit should be established in all
schools to identify talents/traits/dormant skills of children.
* Representatives of private, public and vocational sectors need to
be invited to carry out sector specific presentations on future
workforce needs and availability of apprenticeship programmes.
* A series of seminars for parents should be held to sensitize them
on the dignity of all professions and trades and the need to dialogue
and allow room to respect the aspirations of their children, value
themselves and others that provide services.
* Surveys of village, district and country level workforce needs
(including pay scales) should be carried out and updated every six
months to indicate the needs of self-employment, the private and public
and foreign employment sectors.
* District level exhibitions and seminars should be held every 6
months to enable children and parents to visualize the different
vocational/craft/private/public/foreign employment sectors.
* Innovative work and students cantered learning and group project
activities should be inculcated from early days of general education.
* The Ministry should provide facilities to all schools for
innovative work leading to field work, laboratory work and surveys and
also in computer use to inculcate basics of Research and Technology from
the beginning of a career of a student.
* Ministry should identify Universities as the place that provides
training for human resources development in fundamental, theoretical and
practical aspects of such research.
* In Tertiary Education, project work, both individual and as a team,
should be mandatory.
* It should be made mandatory for newly recruited academic staff in
all Tertiary Education Institutions to be guided in research work.
* The Ministry should make sure that all research projects, both
basic and applied, funded by the Ministry, are directed to the solution
of identified problems related to National Economic and Social problems.
* Universities should promote research training in close
collaboration with respective Research Institutions to which they are
affiliated - affiliation depending on geographic location and function,
and mandate prescribed to the work undertaken by the Institute, whether
it be socio-economic, industrial technology, environment related etc.
Trouble shooting and research should thus be geared toward development
of the country and conducted jointly so as to make best use the human
and other resources available.
* While routine research and testing could be carried out under
various research organizations outside the education sector, fundamental
research and applied research should be promoted in tertiary education
* Line Ministers covering respective subject matter relating to
Health, Agriculture, Environment, Aquatic Resources and Fisheries,
Irrigation, Industries, and Industrial Development etc., need to be
represented on Advisory Boards of Universities and Research
Institutions, with the latter being considered as part of the system of
higher education in the country.
* The Ministry should make sure that Research and Development
projects are screened by Boards of Management in the case of Statutory
Science and Technology Institutions and Heads of Institutions in the
case of Government Institutions to ensure that:
* The Projects conform to National Development Policies.
* Projects are scientifically sound and technically feasible.
* The results will be of end-sure benefit for improving both volume
and/or quality of products and services.
* Adequacy of competent personnel and infrastructure (laboratories,
instrumentation, fields of experiments transport etc).
* Adequacy of funds both currently available and requested under the
* Availability of mechanisms for monitoring project time tables and
to ensure time schedules are met and for evaluating results in
accordance with originally stated objectives.
* Actively foster International collaboration by opening University
and Research Institute facilities to International Scholars.
* A dedicated TV channel should be established for the Science and
Technology Information dissemination. The target audience should be
school children and general public. This will help develop scientific
thinking and development of the scientific basis.
* Politicization of professional authority in autonomous Institutions
should be eliminated by deleting such clauses in most of the Acts which
permit the Minister to give “Specific” instructions to the Chairman and
Board, and to terminate the services of a Chairman and/or a Board Member
“without giving reasons”. Also such Boards should not be changed every
time there is a change of Minister or Government.
* Appointments to and dismissals from autonomous Science and
Technology Institutions should be made by Independent Commissions.
Questions and Answers
Delayed Solution -Ministry of Education
Question: I am very sorry my solution has been delayed as per
my complaint No. 2005/8838 dated 2005/6/7 from Committee on Public
Petitions sent for report. But the Ministry of Education has delayed.
Due to this I am indeed with very great sufferings. Please help me with
Answer: We contacted the office of the Committee on Public
Petitions. And they say that so far they have sent three reminders to
the Ministry of Education. They will immediately sent an another
reminder. We are unable to contact the Ministry of Education directly
and check on this as you have not provided any details. If you can
provide more details about you complaint, the subject matter etc. We may
be able to contact the Ministry of Education and assist you.
Double Registration of Private Medical Institution
Question: My clinic and the premises has been registered with
the Health Ministry under the Private Medical Institutions Act. The
local authority which is the Municipal Council of Maharagama is now
requesting me to register my clinic with them as well. Is this not a
double taxation for a single issue.
Answer: All businesses whether big or small from a Supermarket
to lawyer’s office or a clinic have to be registered with the local
authority whether be municipal council, urban council or even a
This is covered by separate Acts such as the Urban Council Act and
the Pradeshiya Sabha Act. Apart from this registration of all businesses
with the relevant local authority, now there is a requirement for all
private medical institutions to be registered with the Ministry of
Health in order for the Ministry to monitor and assist in general the
development of all medical institutions.
You may likewise be registered with the Sri Lanka Medical Council as
a Medical Practitioner. Similarly, if your income level exceeds the
stipulated amount you have to register with the Income Tax Department as
well with your annual returns and quarterly payments. Similarly there
are taxes and taxes one cannot avoid unless one is unemployed.
Stipulated Distance from the beach for house building
Question: Please let me know whether there is in fact a law by
any authority that no house could be built within the stipulated
distance from the beach,
The particular land is situated at Pinwatte, Panadura, before the
rail track. The beach is beyond the rail track. Please publish your
reply in the Daily News - Thanks
Answer: No Development activity may be commenced in the
coastal zone without a valid permit issued by the Director Coast
Conservation as per the Coast Conservation Act No. 57 of 1981. The
landward limit at the Coastal Zone is defined as being 300 m. parallel
to the high water line.
Permits are granted in terms of the Coastal Zone Management Plan
mandated by the Act. The current Coastal Zone Management Plan is
published in the Gazette (Extraordinary) No 1429/11 of 24th January,
The “Set Back” stipulations for the various coastal areas for
different types of development activities are given in the plan. You may
also contact the Director, Coast Conservation Dept. 4th Floor,
Maligawatta Secretariat. Colombo 10, for additional information.
Question: We are pleased to see that the Ministry of Public
Administration has shown sympathy to the suffering public and taking
action to improve the service to the public. In our country even making
payment to the government such as revenue and licence payment is
Motor car Revenue Licence issuing in the Western Province is one of
the efficient and convenient process and this has been improved further
to the other extreme where now one need not get down from the vehicle
even to make payment and obtain the Revenue Licence.
I wonder whether the Minister or any of his officials have been down
Jawatte Road, Colombo to see the difficulty and the suffering the public
is undergoing to obtain the National Identity Card from the Department
of Registration of Persons. You will find people seated on either side
of the road in this High Security Area. What about citizens charter for
the Registration of
Answer: The Department of Registration of Persons does not
come under the Ministry of Public Administration. and Home Affairs but
under the Ministry of Internal Administration Citizens Charter is an
initiative by the Ministry of Public Administration.
However, we contacted the Commissioner of the Department of
Registration of Persons. He too is aware of the problem and he is making
efforts to put up a canopy along the wall on Jawatte Road. Due to
Security reasons people are not allowed to wait on the Keppetipola
Mawatha side of the building.
The Commissioner has obtained private sector assistance to put up the
canopy due to lack of funds. People standing on the Road are mainly
those who accompany persons who have come to obtain a same day service.
Application is submitted in the morning and till evening when the NIC is
issued people tend to hand around.
Ref. Your Reply in Daily News of 19.07.2007
Question: Thank you very much for taking immediate action to
clarify my pension with the Provincial Director of Education,
He had informed you that I have to appeal through ZDE, Batticaloa,
which I have already done on 28.02.2007, by registered letter No. 6792
through the Batticaloa Post Office (copy enclosed). It is because that I
did not receive any reply, I appealed to you on 29.06.2007. I shall be
thankful if you can proceed with any action and help me to receive the
Answer: We contacted the Zonal Director of Education and he is
aware of your case. Your appeal is of an unusual nature according to him
but your file is not with them but with the Provincial Director of
Education office in Trincomalee.
The ZDB Batticaloa agreed to forward your request to the Provincial
Director in Trincomalee. You have been requested to contact the ZDE
Batticaloa regarding your matter.
Send in your questions
The organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka (OPA) will
cover questions in all professions and subjects of common interest to
the public in the Daily News OPA at Your Service” page every Thursday.
Please make your question brief. Questions can be directed to the OPA
on e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, Fax: 2559770 or write to
the Professional Centre, 275/75, Prof. Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha, Off
Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7.