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Friday, 18 March 2011






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Government Gazette

O-L success

Recent GCE (O-L) results left much to be desired with mounting failures each year which rang alarm bells within the country’s education establishment. It is therefore gratifying to note this year’s GCE results where the success rate has shown an upward trend.

This is a happy augury portending an educated future generation who will be able to contribute towards the country’s progress and prosperity in a positive way. Using this as springboard the Government should now devise special plans to improve the country’s educational sector further so that it could obtain the optimum service from its educated.

Thus far we have only being resting on our laurels on the claim of being the country with the highest literacy rate in Asia. This yardstick had been used in a literal sense so to speak to proclaim we are an educated nation without taking steps to adapt our education system in tune with the modern demands of a changing world. As a result today the country is saddled with an army of unemployable graduates who fail to fit into the current milieu.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa grasping this flaw in our education system took no time in pioneering special IT and English teaching programs throughout the country to afford the widest possible segment access to the new developments in the education sphere. The President’s aim is to build a talented pool of professionals and experts in the many fields to take the country’s development program forward. His frequent appeal to Lankan expatriates to return and assist in this endeavour is also a demonstration of the President’s urgent need for Sri Lankans to take the helm in the post war development.

Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena can be happy with this year’s GCE O-L results which has shown a marked improvement to that of last year. Around 58.79 percent of school candidates who sat their GCE O-Ls had qualified for A-L studies - an increase of over the 48.51 percent over the previous year. Significantly there is an improvement in the results of the Maths and English language paper, two subjects in which the students have fared poorly over the years.

This shows that both parents and students themselves have understood the importance of these two subjects in the present context of a hi-tech based work environment and also for integrating with the outside world. Minister Gunawardena was quoted as saying that he had taken a variety of measures to improve the GCE O-L results such as arranging seminars and special classes for GCE O-L students during weekends. The Minister no doubt deserves plaudits for this achievement through which he has striven to raise the standard of education in the country.

With the country set to take off on a vast development mission, the value of an educated populace to steer the ship and shape the course of the future cannot be overemphasized, especially with Sri Lanka setting its sights of being the Miracle of Asia. But a lot more needs to be done to put our education system in order, so that the maximum is achieved vindicating the efforts of the Minister.

For instance the present rise in the GCE O-L success rate can have its own downside at the stage of University admission with the corresponding increase at the Advanced Level, the limited intake in the Universities unable to cater to the demand. This will open up a crisis situation where a large number of A-L qualified students will be left in the lurch. Even the Private Universities to be set up will only accommodate a limited number as per the agreement reached. Creating more Universities will not be the solution and would only produce graduates who are unemployed posing more problems to the State.

Besides, with the lack of lecturers and University teaching staff it is doubtful whether more Universities will be the answer to cope with increasing number of entrants. Also setting up Universities for its own sake is also a futile exercise if they are not geared to meet the modern day challenges and accordingly equipped with the necessary infrastructure, resources and wherewithal to deal with the relevant study courses.

While the Education authorities have all the right to be jubilant with the current GCE (O-L) results steps should be taken to deal with the spin off ensuring this success is not in vain. Ideally alternative high education institutions geared to cater to the modern day demands should be set up to accommodate this surplus which will only multiply if the present trend continues. If not the explosions in the numbers of those eligible for University education with the passage of time could lead to other problems exacerbating the present unrest.

Value of Humanities education

The relevance of educating our children in the humanities is fast receding, giving way to undue emphasis on economic literacy and business education. Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago Martha N Nussbaum, in her book ‘Not for Profit - Why Democracy Needs the Humanities’ (Princeton University Press: 2010) states: The humanities and arts play a central role in the history of democracy and yet today many parents are ashamed of children who study literature or art.

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Congratulations Elector, you’ve just elected yourself!

I know this is a punchi chandaya, a ‘small’ and relatively inconsequential election. Local Government polls tend to be like that. I am writing this on election day. I have no idea what the outcome will be like and shall not speculate apart from saying the obvious: the voter turnout will be very low. The result may or may not have an impact on national level politics but that’s best analysed after the outcome is known along with relevant details.

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Rising crime affects society

Durkheim viewed crime (deviancy) as being just another function of society. He noted that it forms part of every society and was therefore a natural occurrence. In fact, he viewed it as fulfilling various important social needs; it acted to unify law-abiding citizens against the criminal, thus “crime brings together honest men and concentrates them.” Recognition of crime was a validation of the existence of laws, which were in turn a reinforcement of our central values - after all, “we do not condemn (an act) because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we condemn it.” (Durkheim and the philosophy of causation -MTravis)

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