The time has come for us to understand whether we are really accountable for our deficiencies because seven decades is too long a period for a nation to be this complacent, as we have been. We have been boasting that we have been an inspiration to many new nations, as well as the older ones that looked for solutions. We did not have to look out because we were spoiled by the praise.
We had leaders who were seemingly elected by some supernatural force, and therefore they were not answerable to the voters who simply ratified their presence. This clearly establishes the truth that both the leader and the led had no reason for ‘self-assessment,’ and they never felt guilty about something that had not happened, while the voters also had no idea about what they really needed. So, naturally, there was criticism, and therefore there was no need for corrections, and the reapplication after correcting could never come, and the most vital assessment after application after correction, and there was no need for such undue worries, and we had no way of knowing.
It was never a practice for both the rulers as well as the ruled, as long as they felt we were fine. They had no reason to think about tomorrow, and they could be busy doing things without bothering about their value. No one realized that the population was growing, and all the needs would be multiplied, but they boasted about improving health services because WHO insisted. As a result, they had no reasons to plan for new housing schemes in the urban areas and classrooms in schools to accommodate new admissions and the needs for more space. Originally, the hostel facilities in a residential university like the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, had rooms for one student, and then as the space did not grow, they started using rooms for two students, and then even three, and so on. It was the same everywhere, and no one bothered until some crisis fell upon all. Things went out of control when the magnitude of a need was more than expected.”
The 1962 University Entrance Examination yielded its results, and unfortunately, the son of the Governor General did not pass. He couldn’t retake the exam as he had already attempted it twice. Interestingly, due to the timing of the required admissions, the University had to accommodate enough students to establish another faculty, thus leading to the restart of the Colombo Arts faculty. This situation arose due to a lack of professional reasoning. If high standards were the expectation, there wouldn’t have been a problem. However, when a significant number of students were deprived of opportunities, the placement of the required name in the last level of aggregate scores became a matter of concern.
A similar situation occurred a few years later when the Minister of Education permitted a large intake, and available space was provided by repurposing the old Racecourse buildings in Colombo.
Today, we face a new challenge with the proliferation of agencies offering courses for Sri Lankan students who were unable to secure admission to local higher education institutes. There is a legitimate question about the accreditation and suitability of these institutions. If these institutions are recognized by Sri Lankan Higher Education Institutes, it provides some reassurance. Otherwise?
Given our history of things going awry, it’s always wise to exercise caution. This applies across all sectors, from policymakers and Ministers to concerned parents with limited education. Educated children should be considered a national asset that guarantees sound leadership.
The situation prompts questions for the Minister of Education. Has he ever contemplated this issue beyond the need for assessment and criticism? This may seem like an unusual question, but it’s worth considering.
How much financial resources are being directed to these institutions, and who is ensuring that their standards are impeccable, and their teaching staff highly qualified? Are they simply providing certificates?
However, it’s not an insurmountable problem. Two remedial actions can be considered. Firstly, conduct a comprehensive survey and assess the credentials of all institutions operating in this domain. Secondly, establish a rigorous evaluation process, led by competent and highly qualified scholars, forming a team similar to a Curriculum Committee. This team can assess the quality of programs and introduce a standardized examination that all beneficiary students must pass, thus leveling the playing field.
Application and Effect Evaluation
This situation is of paramount importance, as it affects the wealth of our nation, primarily due to blind adherence to the principles of free trade practices. While it can be beneficial for Sri Lankan youth to obtain the highest qualifications in specialized areas not covered in local institutions, there’s a risk of betrayal to the nation. By carefully considering this aspect, stipulations can be designed to cover all necessary details.
As citizens, we must cultivate a habit of being concerned about everything happening around us. This can only begin with clear minds. When decision-makers understand that citizens are not simply naive individuals, they will take care to fulfil their duties effectively.