Few thoughts on education
from the President downwards all talk about development. It is
an issue that cannot be postponed. Since the war is over there
is no excuse to postpone development or give it less prominence.
In development a key factor is human resource development.
Therefore, education from the primary to the tertiary level
should receive primary attention and focus.
There is much to be desired in the education sphere. It is
common knowledge that students have performed below expectations
in the mother tongue and Mathematics at the G C E (Ordinary
The high percentage of failures points to a defect in the
teaching of these subjects. It is difficult to imagine that the
majority of the pupils were intellectually weak to assimilate
the knowledge imparted. Obviously the fault must like in the
content and method of teaching.
What is required is a student centred methodology of
teaching. Nor are opportunities given to improve the students’
thinking abilities. Students are rather asked to obey rather
than question and find answers. Teaching sometimes becomes
spoon-feeding. Students tend to aim at examination question
papers rather than learning the elementary principles of the
Most teachers do not update their knowledge. They rely on
age-old learning material without absorbing the added new
Children need a suitable environment for studies. Such an
environment is sadly lacking in many rural schools. Nor do they
have adequate resources. Though much has been done in the past
few years much more needs to be done.
The bulk of the budgetary allocations for education are spent
on recurrent expenses like teacher salaries and day to day
expenses. Capital expenditure allocations are hardly sufficient.
Though schools in the city with relatively more adequate parents
could afford to contribute to school welfare funds schools in
rural and estate areas are not so fortunate. The same is true of
city schools attended by children of less affluent families.
In order to provide a good education schools need many
teaching aids, some of which are quite expensive. Nor are
attempts made to produce and supply low cost teaching aids.
There is also the need to rationally use the resources
available for the benefit of optimum number of schools. Some
time ago there was a system of cluster schools which tended to
pool their resources. The system seems to have died off.
Though many countries use the electronic media to supplement
the teaching at school Sri Lanka has not made any efforts to use
it effectively for education purposes. The media could become a
vehicle that could offset teacher shortages and other
shortcomings in the State educational system.
What did adversely affect education are the attempts made by
politicians to tinker it at every change of Government or with
every change of the Minister in charge.
In the tertiary education sphere a large number of eligible
students are denied opportunities to pursue higher education
whether in the academic or vocational streams. Universities are
short of funds and have a long way to reach excellence. Our
Universities are far below those of other countries even in the
South Asian region.
It is necessary to have a long-term plan for developing the
education sector. It should take into consideration the needs of
the economy as it expands with development.
There should be equitable distribution of the meagre
resources at the disposal of the Government. There should be a
rational system of grading schools and providing them with the
necessary wherewithal to excel.
The high demand for popular and city schools is a great
burden on the State as well as the parents. There is the urgent
need to provide excellent centres of learning at every district
divisional office level.