Education for peace
Murderous acts by illegal power maniacs were
not even heard of all three communities lived in peace in the whole of
Sri Lanka - eg. Colombo District, say Wellawatta was vastly inhabited by
the good Tamils, while a fair Sinhala population lived in the Northern
province - there was the most popular well developed Sinhala Maha
Vidyalaya in Jaffna town and six other schools in Puttur.
I write on education for peace and conflict resolution - focusing on
the present terrorist ridden inhuman beastly ways of destruction in the
use of bombs and suicide squads. If education and human thought had the
say among the rogue elements hiding in animal infested wilds, the
situation may have been different.
As the CEO in education. I had spent several months of education in
the development of schools along with all types of Sri Lankans
(Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims - STM) say in Jaffna, Kilinochi,
Mullaitivu, Mutur, Kalmunai and also Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Trincomalee
and participated actively in educational works. STM brotherhood was
highly evident as one family unit of genuine Sri Lankans.
Education is a channel to build peace. File photo
Suicidal, murderous acts by illegal power maniacs were not even heard
of all three communities lived in peace in the whole of Sri Lanka - eg.
Colombo district, say Wellawatta was vastly inhabited by the good
Tamils, while a fair Sinhala population lived in the Northern province -
there was the most popular well developed Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya in
Jaffna town and six other schools in Puttur.
Self had the privilege to spend a week in developing eight small
schools in Delft under the national SSDP program Consultation and
Cooperation guided the community welfare.
Where necessary the ballot overruled the bullet. Inhuman conflicts
were rare. Let me request the EU nations and Human Rights sponsors to
note that Sri Lanka was a very peaceful nation then, and now can try to
go back to the former Lanka provided external interference is out.
As a CEO then in Education I could state that this new awakening
urged us in education to develop a very close relationship with other
Government departments. The public service showed a mighty change in
attitude in dealing with peoples' socio-economics issues.
This humanitarian awakening that spread into the public service
mainly highlighted a new type job discipline, punctuality and
expeditious action in and out of the work-place were note-worthy in
giving ear, mainly to the once neglected poorer classes in rural areas,
in settling their long drawn out problems. This procedure was highly
perspicuous at the many mobile offices held in most districts.
The North-East was catered in a large way. Action to upgrade the
state Services efficiently and effectively through a large force of
Government officials at the mobile centres was evident at workplaces -
eg. in Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Ampara and Vavuniya. Official
evaluations showed a massive load of productive work done in meeting the
people face to face. I had the privilege of participating in all these
The new mind-set concepts on real work seemed to be instilled into
the thoughts and deeds of the officials - may be voluntarily or by order
or direction of the President. It stressed on rural problems and village
Formal education: the primary aim was to strengthen the delivery of
education to the student population by reinforcement of the work-force
in education among teachers in particular, principals, Supervisory staff
(Education Officers), other Staff in schools and offices.
Total numbers involved amounting to about 300,000. The main vision
was on the improvement of services rendered to the four million pupils
in the schools system with an emphasis on those in the deficit areas, in
the dry zones in particular.
By the grant of extra inputs in personnel and resources to ensure the
proper delivery of education in schools, monitoring of education was
felt essential. A systematic scheme of annual and casual or surprise
school inspections was enforce through supervisory teams comprising
education officers and Circuit Inspectors of schools.
Currently well programmed school inspections are not done. Annual
school returns, updated school files and reports may be in neglect now.
As such proper assessment of work in schools and teaching staff may
not be done. The grant of annual incremental credit and useful work
reports for promotions are not maintained, as is mandatory and
accordingly done in respect of public officers in others services.
A few unique action taken then to further informal education.
i. Parents Charter prepared in Sinhala and Tamil was sent out to all
schools in the country in NESW for discussion with parents on their
rights and duties to participate in the education and welfare and health
of their children.
ii. Appointment of teachers: The majority of teachers were posted to
rural areas - eg in 1989/90, 25,000 teacher trainees were selected from
all Pradeshiya Sabhas and given appointments in their home towns except
the Science, Maths, English qualified who were sent to deficit areas.
iii. SSDP Project: As there were more than 2,500 small schools with a
student roll of 200/100 or less, a special project was implemented
nationally in North Central, Northern, Eastern Provinces and Hambantota
areas. Fortunately, the UNESCO gave a large grant to fund the cost of
school development in poor areas.
iv. Teacher Supply in quality and quantity - A system of appointments
were approved by the Cabinet. About 90,000 teacher appointments were
given for three years.
From 25,000 Teacher-Trainees, who had to serve a four year apprentice
period and complete an OJT (On the Job Training course), 6,000
graduates, 15,000 other teachers from 8,000 Volunteer Teachers, 1,500
Advanced Level qualified Science/Maths Assistance 2,230 English
Assistants 200 Moulavis, 520 Diplomates from the then Colleges of
Education in Home Science/Agriculture/Handicraft, 350 physical education
In addition 250 terrorist victimized qualified persons in North-East
were given concession appointments.
v. Promotions to the Principals' Service - As several schools did not
have permanent Principals a series of formal examinations were held in
1991 to promote qualified teachers to the grades of Principal 1,2,3. The
total number appointed in 1991 was 4,996.
This was based on an approved STM ethnic ratio.
Among then, 2,510 were Sinhala, 812 Jaffna Tamil, 216 Tamil-Indian
origin, 343 Muslim. Boards appointed by the PSC/ESC conducted the
interviews. Appointments were made by the PSC. The selections were
publicized by each AG division in each subject area.
vi. Appeals on non-selection/allocation of marks, protests against
selectees were investigated objectively.
The ESC/PSC Board and as OIC. I can stand up boldly and say a very
honest job was done within a short time. There was no delays thanks to
non-party political will and impartial monitoring by Education Ministers
and the President. This was at a time few years back when the notorious
Job-Bank and Chit system was in operation, adversely affecting the
recruitment systems. We overcame this malicious system that was denying
justice to the socially, politically and economically poor applicants.
(The writer is a former DDG Edn, Chairman ESC of the PSC, UGC