There is certainly never a dull moment in our country especially because quite often Ministers and politicians make drastic statements and take decisions which makes one wonder whether they come from authoritative sources or whether it is their own personal views and actions. For instance there was the very controversial leadership skill training for university entrants; in fact it appeared to be something like the outbound courses which were used by some commercial firms to teach team spirit etc, though why on earth young university entrants should learn to scale walls (and many of them sprained their ankles) unless of course it was a means to train them to get out of sight if any law enforcing forces entered the university premises to break up some demonstration or other!
Surely before such courses were implemented would it not have been better to consult academics, university staff and educationalists as to what type of course was needed for these young university entrants. One cannot lay the blame of the contents of the training course on the services because they would not have really been trained to train these youngsters. I remember a time when recruits to the foreign services underwent a period of three months training at BMICH and BCIS on various aspects of diplomacy and there were senior diplomats who were available as the lecturers. How on earth trained army officials could train young university entrants as patterns of university education is a bit difficult to understand because they are regimented in army training and not on the needs of academic thinking and behaviour.
Then again the promised computers for those who had undergone this training has not yet materialized. Furthermore one does not know whether any charge will be levied for these computers when and if they are given. Instead could not the Education Ministry have made provision for school bags to be given free or at a very nominal fee to school kids, for if a parent has about three children attending schools just imagine the cost they would have to meet? Then last year in order to bring uniformity in certain schools, children had to purchase shoes too from the school once again the parents would have to meet the burden of these costs. Considering these factors it appears that the education department feels that uniformity in externals is more essential than in providing the other facilities needed for the school to function effectively !
The high powered bureaucrats in the Ministry of Higher Education now have stated that the English tests will be online tests. One wonders how many of these young university entrants especially from rural schools have computers to do online tests and again what facilities have been put in to prevent another student using the same online replies on the computer of a student who is highly proficient in English.
Really our education system was said to be reorganized and streamlined so that students and young graduates would be trained to be employable instead of starting from a rudimentary level we appear to be making plans to have the education systems prevailing in highly developed countries forgetting that the majority of schools don’t have even the basic facilities or even the teachers to teach the compulsory subjects efficiently. In fact a newspaper report said that a little child in a rural school presented the President with a letter stating that the only English teacher in the school had been transferred and no-one has been yet appointed to take her place. Surely the Directors of Education should be aware of such instances.
Further many primary schools were closed down so that secondary schools can be developed again one wonders whether rural children in marginalized areas will now even receive the basic education they obtained from the primary school in the area. And as the education department is very apt in stating that the closure of many schools is due to non-attendance of students have the official ever attempted to find out why these schools do not have sufficient students is the lack of facilities and proper administration .There was a time when school inspectors regularly visited schools and each teacher had to present weekly reports for the principal’s signature of the subject matter taught in each class. Today all this has gone by the board.
Then again we have the Education departments stating that children should study four languages whether it is in addition to the present study of English and Tamil was not that clear but apparently according to a recent radio news report the education ministry was said to introduce the study if Chinese , Hindi and Korean to the school curricular !
Perhaps it is time that the Education Ministry decided to present a white paper on Educational reforms and reorganization Both the Ministry of Higher Education and that of Education should combine their expertise for this project. For primary education must finally lead to tertiary or Higher education and university education so to consider each of their ministries as water tight departments is not really in keeping with the President’s vision in the Mahinda Chintana.