Educational policy and employment
The government has
arrived at the decision to take the necessary measures to
encourage more secondary students into following the Science and
Commerce streams of education, and none could question the
soundness of the thinking behind this initiative. On the face of
it, such moves could prove to be the long awaited antidote to
the problem of educated unemployment. If youth unrest is to be
effectively addressed, then, it is more employable youngsters
that the country needs.
It is the problem of relevance which has been bedeviling
higher education in particular in this country over the decades.
While successive governments have been addressing their minds to
this seemingly complex issue, very little or nothing has been
done about it. Admittedly, this is a somewhat convoluted issue
but it is not beyond resolving and we call on the government to
be single-minded in its determination, on this occasion, to
resolve the problem, at least to a degree.
There is much to recommend the government's project of
establishing National Schools in all parts of the country, on an
equitable basis. Just the other day, at a function held at ANCL,
Education Minister Bandula Gunawardene, who graced the occasion
as Chief Guest, spoke elaborately on the legendary C.W.W.
Kannangara's much commended Central School system of yesteryear
which did this country proud. The National School of the future,
he said, would be modeled on the Father of Free Education's
Central School which produced the brains which went on to keep
the state system of Sri Lanka in such good trim. In fact, the
ministers and state functionaries, both past and present, are
numerous who hail from the country's Central School system.
Those who witnessed the Central School in operation in its
heyday would vouch for the fact that this school system was
second to none. Today, many an administrator, parent and elder
complains bitterly about the quality of teaching in the English
medium but in those times, the Central School could measure up
to any of the more fancied metropolitan based schools with
regard to English medium education. So, vibrant and
qualitatively high were the Central Colleges.
Minister Gunawardene went on to explain that the Central
School lacked none of the essentials that are today considered
necessary for a broad-based liberal education. For instance,
they possessed well-equipped laboratories and libraries which
turned out scores of top quality scientists. Besides, they
catered to both sexes and this enabled the student to 'face the
challenges of the future' on the personal plane, the minister
Therefore, it cannot be argued that this country lacks the
educational expertise required to usher in an educational
revival. What is needed is a systematic endeavour to put things
right, with a strong sense of priorities. Hopefully, more and
more monetary resources would be siphoned to the educational
sector to enable these projects to bear fruit. We believe
education should continue to be a top priority area in the
country's development agenda.
It could be noticed that the majority of secondary students
have opted to study Arts over the years. Is this tendency on
account of a 'natural inability' on the part of the average
Lankan student to pursue Science and Commerce based courses?
This is an issue that needs to be addressed in an enlightened
and informed manner.
Considering the innate potential of the human mind, it cannot
be accepted that a 'natural inability' prevents the average
local secondary student from pursuing Science and Commerce based
educational courses successfully.
Rather, it is the lack of opportunity that has been
preventing the student from opting for Science or Commerce,
Over the years, the National or Central School concept has
been allowed to slide off the consciousness of our educational
and policy planners. Consequently, a great many provincial
schools have been steadily deprived of the capability to cater
to the full range of local educational needs.
This is a prominent factor in the inability of the average
rural-based secondary school to produce Science and Commerce
capable students. In the task of increasing the number of
students pursuing Science and Commerce, these facts need to be
borne in mind. We call on the state to go vigorously ahead with
its island-wide National Schools project.