Vol. 10 - No. 7


SOUTH ASIA: SRI LANKA                                                                                                                       News Briefs


(Afghanistan and Myanmar in the 
         map are not members of SAARC)

Education System Fails Children

This country is considered home to several great religions, which discourage mindless quest and contest.

They teach us that we can derive happiness not by trying to have what we want but by trying to want what we have. But, our collective psyche is characterised by the very obverse of these teachings if our lemming-like rush or the clichéd rat race is any indication.

Minister of Education Bandula Gunawardena said the other day that parents and politicians had robbed our children of their childhood. One could not agree with him more! We have invented a mechanism with which to fast-forward children's lives wickedly skipping their innocent childhood. And it is called school education, which is focused only on examinations, where children are tested not for what they know but for what they do not know. We seem to have duped ourselves into believing that the bulkier the schoolbag gets, the better educated a child becomes!

The school system has manifestly failed and its failure has given rise to the mushrooming of private tuition centres usually run by government teachers themselves. A few days ago, we had a school principal boasting on TV of the outstanding performance of several of his students at the last GCE (A/L) examination. Not a single word did he mention about the private tutors who had taught and coached those successful children. He tried to grab the credit but he could fool none because it is known to one and all in this country that a school hardly prepares students for the GCE (A/L) examination. We would see the popular schools for what they really are if private tuition were banned. In most schools, attendance is woefully low in the A/L classes as children prefer private tuition to wasting time in school.

As Minister Gunawardena has rightly said parents are also responsible for having reduced children to robots programmed to study and compete. Children have no time to commune with nature. Examinations prevent them from watching flowers, butterflies and rainbows; parents drag them from school to private tuition classes. The race begins the moment a child enters school.

All this parents do, no doubt, for the love of their children whom they want to succeed in life. Torturing his or her precious child is not any parent's intent. But, sadly it is torture that the child happens to undergo in the name of education in this country where everything is topsy-turvy. They are in the same predicament as horses that run because others want them to.

The GCE (O/L) examination (2010) began yesterday. Each and every child who sits it is under undue pressure from his or her parents, teachers and well wishers to obtain nothing less than distinctions for all nine subjects. Children need to be encouraged to raise the bar for themselves and helped to achieve their goals but the question is how many of them are told that life is still worth living even if they fail to live up to others' expectations as regards examination results. Life is full of fallback positions and children must be helped to make use of them. That way, we may be able to battle the growing incidence of drug addiction, alcoholism, juvenile suicide etc.

Now that epiphany has finally occurred, Minister Gunawardena, a popular teacher turned politician, ought to figure out what has gone wrong with our education system and find remedies. There are many experts among us on education and they will tell him what it is.

What we usually do by way of education reforms is to paper over the cracks or effect ad hoc changes for political reasons. It looks as if the need for another 'lessons learnt' commission were strongly felt in the field of education, where many a lesson has gone unlearnt.

The government is talking of the formulation of a national policy on education. This we have heard of for many years and the new policies introduced under different political dispensations have been anything but national.

The onus is on Minister Gunawardena to make a difference and enable children to enjoy their childhood while receiving a decent education sans torture.

[South Asian Media]

News Briefs


Government declares to expedite release of former LTTE cadres following rehabilitation: The Sri Lankan Government declared that steps would be taken to expedite the release of detained cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after their rehabilitation. Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera said that the Government was considering necessary measures to release the remaining LTTE detainees at the earliest. The Minister added that 7000 former LTTE cadres have already been released after being rehabilitated. Colombo Page, December 26, 2010.

Sri Lanka scraps Tamil version of its national anthem: Sri Lanka has scrapped the Tamil version of its national anthem at official and state functions, a move likely to further alienate the ethnic Tamils in the country. Now the national anthem--'Sri Lanka matha....' can only be rendered in the majority Sinhala language at official functions, the Sri Lankan cabinet decided. The move will mean that the current Tamil version will no longer be played at any official or state functions. The decision was taken at the last cabinet meeting headed by the President Mahinda Rajapakse, who pointed out that no country in the world uses the national anthem in other than one language, Sunday Times reported on December 12. Times of India, December 12, 2010.

Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne accuses LTTE of executing prisoners of war: The Sri Lankan Government on December 8 said that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had executed Sri Lankan Security Forces personnel imprisoned by them during the final stages of the war in 2009. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne told the Parliament that several hardcore LTTE cadres who were arrested from the Vavuniya welfare camps had revealed that 60 soldiers who were in LTTE custody were executed by them during the finals stages of the war. Colombo Page, December 9, 2010.

[South Asia Intelligent Review]

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