Beyond GCE A-L
The results of the GCE
A-L Examination are out. Though about 250,000 sat for the
examination it would be less than 10 percent of them who would
have the chance of entering a University. Out of those who get
through only a small percentage would be lucky to enter. The
balance would have to either seek University education abroad or
look for other avenues of study or employment.
This means over 200,000 students would have their hopes of
pursuing higher education shattered. How could the State ensure
fruitful employment to such a large number of educated youth who
join the ranks of the unemployed annually?
The Government seems to be conscious of their plight. That is
why moves are afoot to bring in foreign Universities to the
country with the help of the private sector. Yet that would only
help a small fraction of the over 200,000 hapless youth whose
labour would be deprived to the national economy during the
prime of their youth.
The frustration of such a huge mass of youth is a cause for
concern. It is also a fertile ground for youth rebellion. Though
several Commissions and Committees have deliberated on the
problems of the youth no satisfactory way out has been found so
far to the predicament of this youth.
Two factors are obvious. One is that most of these youth are
unable to join the labour force even when job opportunities are
available because of the lack of vocational training. This
defect has to be remedied. It is necessary to impart vocational
training in fields in which there is a dearth of manpower at
present. One could identify several fields where jobs in skilled
and semi-skilled grades have a great demand. It would also be
desirable to introduce vocational subjects at the Senior
Secondary stage at school, possibly with industry training. In
addition school leavers should be provided with opportunities
for vocational and technical education and training.
The other factor that gives rise to a dormant labour force is
the slow expansion of the economy. True, the war was a
restraining factor earlier. With the dawn of peace and the
development plans initiated by the Government the economy should
expand in the forthcoming period. It is necessary to plan and
develop the required human resources necessary for the economy
well in advance. For this purpose human resource development
should get priority and adequate resources should be available
through the Government Budget. It is also necessary to enhance
the productivity of labour through the use of advanced and
It would be impossible to advance to be the Wonder of Asia if
there is qualitatively higher technological base for our
industries. It is particularly necessary to introduce higher
technology to our agriculture including plantation agriculture
as well as to productive industries.
The Budget 2011 had correctly emphasized on the need for
value addition for most of our exports. Such value addition
would depend on the results of scientific research and
development. No country has escaped from the abyss of
under-development without the application of R & D.
Another factor to be addressed is graduate unemployment. It
has to be ensured that more University places for GCE A-L
qualified does not mean more unemployed graduates at the end of
three or four years. This calls for a radical overhaul of the
University administrative, academic and research structures.
Those who sit for the GCE A-L are the most brilliant out of
all who sat for the O-L. The faults of those who fail to gain
admission to the Universities lie mainly elsewhere in the
education system. It is up to the public and private sectors to
take them to their fold and give them a proper orientation to
fit in to the world of work. There is no reason for them to fail
as they are talented enough. The fault also lies also in the
scanty and stingy outlays on human resource development in many
industrial and business concerns, whether private or public.
The Universities should also have multiple entry points. They
should also device specialized courses for those who come from
the world of work to get an academic knowledge to supplement
their practical skills. Greater focus on inter-disciplinary
studies and research also would give both students and staff of
the Universities to lean away from the segregated structures
which they relish at present and seek new vistas.