Future of education | Daily News

Future of education

The results of yet another Year 5 examination are out. Newspapers reported on Friday that Dinuka Krishan from Negombo has topped the achievers’ list with 198 marks out of 200. Two students (Indumini Jayaratne and Sanjana Nayanajith) have tied to the second place with 197 marks while the third-placed Tharul Dharmaratne obtained 196 marks. Significantly, none of the first 16 students is from Colombo.

The Year 5 scholarship examination has become a highly competitive examination over the years, because it is seen as the gateway for students to enter Year 6 classes of prominent schools in Colombo, Kandy, Galle and Kurunegala. The very name of the examination is based on this premise – one basically gets a “scholarship” to study in a prominent school depending on the marks obtained. The top four students mentioned here can easily seek admission to Colombo or Kandy schools.

However, many educationists and psychologists are now questioning the very concept of having a highly competitive examination at this age level (10-11). Parents enroll their offspring for “scholarship” tuition classes from Year 3 onwards, which can have a terrible strain on the growing mind as they are deprived of play, leisure time, parental bonding and even sleep. They are forced to cram study materials by parents and teachers and not surprisingly, some children cannot cope.

Earlier, Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had called for a report on the Year 5 Scholarship Examination from the Education Ministry and several teachers unions appealed to the Ministry to release that report prior to the publication of Scholarship Examination results on the Internet. The report is likely to address several anomalies reported from this year’s examination as well as the general nature of the examination. Education Ministers have on more than one occasion agreed with the view held by some educationists that the Year 5 Scholarship Examination should be discontinued. However, there should be a wider discourse on this topic in society before any action is taken.

The whole crux of the scholarship examination is rather unfortunately based on one stark reality – the inequality between rural and urban schools. Although Sri Lanka has had free education for many decades, educational resources have not been distributed equally. The rather shameful fact of the matter is that there actually are superior schools in this country which are better in terms of equipment and facilities, access to teachers and even recreational facilities. This is why there is a mad scramble among parents to get their children enrolled to these so-called “best” schools first in Year 1, failing which they try Year 6.

There will indeed be no need for a special scholarship examination the day when all schools in the country are on an equal footing. The Government has already laid the groundwork in this direction through its “Nearest School is the Best School” project. If the nearest school is good enough, parents will not need to send their offspring to schools in the city.

Equality is at the heart of the Government’s education drive. Free textbooks and uniforms are given to every child, rich or poor, rural or urban. The recently launched Suraksha Insurance Scheme covers all 4.5 million schoolchildren in more than 10,000 schools. Nevertheless, the availability of teachers and physical equipment varies widely across schools, which gives rise to certain inequalities. Eradicating such anomalies should be a priority for the Government.

The first priority should be eliminating the shortage of teachers for certain areas and certain subjects. On Thursday (October 5), the world celebrated the 20th edition of the World Teachers’ Day under the theme “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers”. That is vital for strengthening education. Teachers must be given every opportunity to reach greater horizons. Better trained and equipped teachers will be able to produce more useful citizens.

The UN estimates that the world will need 69 Million more teachers to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030. Sri Lanka is no exception – we need more teachers for all subjects now that the Government has made education compulsory all the way up to year 13. Teaching must be turned into a more attractive profession and modern teaching aids and technology can help it to become a more dynamic, much sought-after vocation.

In this context, there may be an opportunity for teachers and schools to leapfrog straight to the 21st Century through the “Cloud Smart Classroom” (tablets, smartboards etc) concept now being trialled at the Sri Jayawardhanapura MV, Kotte. There are no physical textbooks or notebooks in this system developed by Sri Lankan software company Codegen with the fullest cooperation of educational authorities.

This is the future of education in every sense of the word. The physical presence of a teacher in a classroom may not even be necessary in the future as technology develops. Already, the system allows a student to download the lessons from home if he cannot attend school due to illness. Thus the classroom is not confined to the four walls in the school, it can (virtually) be anywhere in the world. Our education system must adapt fast to changing times. 


There is 1 Comment

Not vital for human development. Too many students cram get tution work nervously to succeed. Age when you play climb tres goodie stay enjoy. Students must study to keep up eith teacher attend school read draw play. Not a right age for any competition . Intrest enthusiasm must come as student sge. I gor one beleive sll public exam must be after child reach grade 8 and ups


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