How To Save Education In Sri Lanka

By : Mohammed Jehan Khan

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Education is the gateway to the future and has become an integral part of our society and the global village in total. From Neem tree schools it has expanded to high tech institutes and unioversities. However the universalisation and capitalisation of education began in the last phase of the 20th century litterally ruined the quality of education in total. It has produced a series of nerds that memorise books rather than authentic thinkers and creative people. This sums up why have not produced any Einsteins, Teslas, Avicenas etc in the so called “Advanced 21st Century AD”.

Far from being informal, inexpensive and creative, today education has become highly corrupted by cooperate thieves, politicians, nerds and inappropriate teachers. In most countries including Sri Lanka educationit has been Nationalised and given free of charge. A set of accepted principles and procedures have come to be accepted while imparting education with science and technology, providing cohereance to the subject matter.

But Developing, higher middle- income countries like Sri Lanka cannot afford to spend much on education owing to financial constrains. Our expenditure on education is a mere 2% of our GDP of $59 Billion and a GDP per captia capitol $3500,as against the generally accepted norm of 6% in the western world and we are ranked behind our South Asian counterparts and third world nations –, India which spends 2.8% of the $1.85 Trillion for education and has a GDP percaptia per capita of $1,488; Bangladesh which spends 2.4% of its $111.88 Billion for education and has a GDP percaptia per capita of $780 a and; Pakistan which spends 2.7% of its  $210.88 Billion for education and has a GDP percaptia per capita of $1295).

The crucial question then must be posted, What makes Sri Lanka to spend less on Education?

Back then in 1943 C.W.W Kannangara’s consistent attempt to raise the level of literacy in the country made Sri Lankans to achieve a highest literacy rates among Asian countries. He introduced a free education system which is effective till to date. This system by Kannangara benefitted thousands of underprivileged students around the country. Despite all these progresses Sri Lanka has one of the lowest rate of students pursuing higher education,  which is 0.001% of the entire population. (only 20,000 students a year are allowed to pursue higher education in Sri Lanka).

The reason is very clear, with clear expansion of education and globalisation and also with the growth of technology and its application in education, the government of Sri Lanka finds it hard to sustain its free education system. What should be done? Aabolish the age old Kannangaran system and bring a new education reform? The world changes fastly while Sri Lanka sleeps to the lullabies of the communist inter- University Students’ federation which is backed by the radical Marxists groups opperating in the country.

Hence there is a role that the private sector needs to play, espeicially in the higher education system. The West, notably United States and the United Kingdom took a lead in the establishment of semi government schools and universities long ago, and we are following suit only by now. (The Sri Lanka Institute of Information and Ttechnology is one such (onlythe only) semi- government technical and engineering university in the country.)

The present education policy only ensures that students memorise the texts and theories; it does not attempt to bring the application of those learnt theories to the practical world thereby fostering up innovation and creativity. thats why Sri Lanka has not produced any Nobel Prize winners, scientists and leaders in its entire post independence history, a bigest drawback that Sri Lankan should worry.-Along with the defective education policy of the Government, is the poor infrastructure existing in the government run schools and universities. In contrast many semi- government, private schools and Universities offer a stark advancement in the infastructure facilities.

Many of the government run schools (Maha Vidyalayas, Central Ccolleges and National Schools) and Universities (notably Wayamba, Rajarata, Jaffna and Eastern) in out of Colombo areas have no buildings, Lab facilities, no extra curricular facilities and at times no teachers and lecturers.

Marxism that plagues the public universities often brings student strikes, student lecturers clashes, Ragging, student group clashes and sudden closure of faculties and at times the entire universitiy peremises, which resultsed in many students to abandoning their courses and many educated professsors to leavinge the country. Wastage, corruption, thuggery and abuses are rampant in such universities.

Nevertheless, the private sector (leaving aside the semi government sector) has its own negative side, although compared with the negativity of the present education system of the country, its less and non hazardous.

One such disadvantage is that it brings the fore profit and monetary consideration, thereby widening the disparities between the rich and the poor, to the betterment of the upper class of society. The private sector also appears to be interested in providing engineering and medical education, but their quality of education is questionable (SAITM, ACBIT, ICBT and APIIT). Some of these institution do not provide quality education to their students even after charging them lakhs of rupees under various procedures. This defeats the very purpose of higher education.

Privatisation of education has its pros and cons, if not controlled the disadvantage can cripple the entire system of education. Therefore government should intervene in the private sector and establish more effective semi government higher education institutions and Universities in the country. In today’s a world we are living in and the way it goes it is not possible to keep the private sector outside the purview of education with the government’s peanut funds being totally inadequate for attaining the ideal of universalisation of education and contesting with regional and non regional countries.

Many regions in the country specially Tamil and Muslim schools in particular do not have access to even the basic educational facilities. Thus the involvement of the private sector and private funding in education becomes a necessity.

There is need to minimise the ill effects arising out the involvement of the private sector. The private sector should be encouraged to play a vital role in the higher education . forand for this to transpire what we require is a clear and transparent government policy. Tthe policy must provide a level playing for all parties involved in this sphere. Existing bodies like the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Association of  Commonwealth Universities should be given a more independeant and definite status. Tough and punitive laws must be enacted to penalise the defaulters. After implementing such a healthy mechanism, the government should lay emphasis on primary and secondary education where its policies are skewed and and ill-concieived. This would make available to the government more resources to invest in the primary and secondary education system, thus benefitting the entire system in the long run.

It is high time for the administrators and authorities in the education sector to realise the sacredness and importance of education, so that the very foundation of the country and its future remains secure.

(Mohammed Jehan Khan is a Sri Lankan Independent Socio-Political writer, Columnist and can be reached at
@OfficialJehan twitter)

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Author: Mohammed Jehan Khan

A Soldier of Fortune who born without a silver spoon in his arse. Google my name to know me more.

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