The Government has unveiled an ambitious set of policies and proposals for general education in the country, which seeks to get more budgetary allocation for the sector, make school education mandatory for children from 5-16, as well as plans to reduce reliance on private tuition.
The report, based on proposals presented to the Special Parliamentary Advisory Committee of Education, was on Wednesday presented to Parliament by Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena.
The proposals are to be included in a new Education Act to be introduced soon.
It has been proposed that every effort be taken to achieve an annual target of 5% of the Gross Domestic Product from the Budget for Education. These resources should be allocated equally, equitably, adequately and effectively, the report adds.
Providing equal and fair opportunities for each child to have qualitative and balanced education as the responsibility of the government, monitoring pre-school education by a central authority and making Education compulsory from 5-16 years, are among other proposals.
|Highlights of the reportn The vast majority of Sri Lanka’s children have Sinhala or Tamil as their mother tongue. Based on that mother tongue and national language policy, trilingual education opportunities should be assured. Parents have the right of deciding their mother tongue. English can be taught as the link language, nationally and internationally.
- Children should have the right to learn and practice their accepted religion at school.
- The Principal is the backbone of the school. Hence, qualified, knowledgeable, virtuous persons possessed of a good personality and leadership qualities should be appointed as principals, and be brought up to date and continuously developed for the task.
- Qualified, knowledgeable, efficient, accountable, exemplary graduate teachers should be nurtured, further developed and retained.
- The syllabi, learning teaching process, timetables etc. be updated every five years according to global tendencies, with the teachers trained to keep pace with these charts.
- A child promoted to Grade 9, should be provided with trained professional counsellors for guidance to select future professional goals according to the natural resources of the area and the country, new tendencies of the world, and his/her innate abilities and intelligence.
- According to the results of the GCE Ordinary Level Examination, students should be directed to Advanced Level education or school based professional education courses as appropriate.
- Following the Advanced Level Examination, students should be directed towards university education or other tertiary education or school based professional courses.
- Examination Act No. 25 of 1968 should be revised. The Department of Examination should maintain reliability, validity, confidentiality, standards and independence, and should conduct all national level examinations in the school system, while government examinations related to recruitment, efficiency bar and promotions and results should be made publicly available.
- Stress on students due to national level exams should be minimised and the responsibility to make strategies in this regard lies with the Department of Examinations.
- Classification of schools should cease. The school structure should consist of only Primary and Secondary schools. This transformation should be methodically achieved within a definite timeframe.
- The quality of the free education given to the children in small schools should be assured with public and private partnership.
- Create mixed school system without any racial or religious differences, while ensuring different identities is the future responsibility of education.
- Maximum number of students in a primary class to be 35 and in a secondary class 40.
- Student population with classrooms should be a random mix.
- Fundamental criteria for admission to Grade 1 are age and distance to school from home.
- Children who are differently-abled and who have learning difficulties should be encouraged towards inclusive education. Inclusive education should be introduced to at least primary schools and one secondary school from each Division Secretariat. Such schools should be developed with infrastructure facilities, resource-rooms and trained teachers for their easy moving.
- Dependence on tuition classes can be reduced by preparing a manageable curriculum content, teaching methods, question papers, bringing forward creative and logical competencies, going beyond rote learning, conducting classes for below average students and remedial teaching.
- The child will not need private tuition if the teachers prepare their lessons well, go to classes on time and teach so as to attract the student to the lesson.
- Holding private tuition classes during school hours should be prohibited and students banned from attending them during school hours.
- If there is no valid reason for being absent, student attendance should be above 80%. In admissions for national exams and promotions to higher grades, attendance should be taken into consideration.
- Teachers who work outside their duty hours, for the benefit of students’ development, should be appreciated.
- There should be a control of the qualifications of those conducting private tuition classes, and the venues inspected for acceptable standards.
- Schoolchildren should be banned from using mobile phones within school. Parents should be informed that even outside the school, allow usage only when it is absolutely necessary.
- A code of ethics for teachers should be drawn up and established by the Education Council, or by some other suitable committee.
- This code of ethics should cover all roles played by the teachers and through that they should be brought-up to a professional level.
- Chandani Kirinde
- Courtesy SundayTimes