Prof. Bal Chandra Luitel, School of Education, Kathmandu University (Translated from Nepalese by Bineeta Baral) Lock-down has changed every day life’s activity not only mine but everyone else. If I have to talk about me, I used to reach the University around 11 am and stayed there until 6 pm and during evening classes until 8:30 pm. I have now shifted my evening classes to the day time. They no go on from 3 pm to 5 pm.
අලුත් කැබිනෙට්ටුවේ අධ්යාපන විෂය පෙර වාර වල මෙන් තුන් අතකට නොකඩා එක් ඇමතිවරයකුටම බාර දීලා තියෙනවා.. ඇත්තටම මැලේසියාව හැරුණු කොට ආසියා කලාපයේ ඉන්දියාව, බංග්ලාදේශය, සිංගප්පූරුව, ඉන්දුනීසියාව, තායිලන්තය, දකුණු කොරියාව හා තායිවානය යන සෑම රටකම අධ්යාපන විෂය භාරව සිටින්නේ ඒක ඇමති වරයකු පමණි. මැලේසියාවේ උසස් අධ්යපනය සඳහා වෙනම අමාත්යංශයක් තියෙනවා. අපේ රටත් ඒ පෙලට එක් වුනු ඒක ගැන සතුටුයි.
In Sri Lanka, with a population of 22 million, 11,000 schools closed on March 12th affecting 4.5 million students. The situation in Indonesia parallels Sri Lanka though Indonesia’s population at 268 million is ten times that of Sri Lanka. According to a World Bank blog, in Indonesia, over 530,000 schools closed affecting 65 million students. The situation is forcing a very fast and broad increase in the country’s use of EdTech, which is expected to have lasting effects on the market.
In her column why character education is an imperative for Sri Lanka, HGS Premarathna, or Sajitha Preamrathna argues eloquently that good character is more important than ever, and posits, as the title indicates, it should be taught in schools. I have reservations about both arguments. In the first instance, she quotes Andrew Lickona who justifies the need for character education. According to Lickona, “There is a clear and urgent need [for character education]. Young people are increasingly hurting themselves and others and are decreasingly concerned about contributing to the welfare of others.
Singapore introduced changes to its assessment policy in 2019, lightening the load for school children. https://www.moe.gov.sg/news/press-releases/-learn-for-life—preparing-our-students-to-excel-beyond-exam-results; https://sg.
The Grade Five exam with its imperfections is still a useful mechanism to level the playing field in an inequitable education system which cannot be reformed anytime soon. Succeeding governments to their credit have made efforts, and continue to make efforts, to remove inequities through various initiatives, which are more or less similar but implemented under different names such as Navodya Schools, Isuru Schools, Thousand Schools and now as the Nearest School is the Best School. Education is not an island. It reflects inequities in society. Reforms take time.
During a debate on education budgetary allocation, Aturaliye Ratana Thero, a Bhikku and Sri Lankan Parliamentarian, has said: “If a child is given a primary education in a language other than their mother tongue, that child would not be a citizen of that country,” The essence of the good Thero’s argument is that pedagogically it is best to educate a child in his/her mother tongue, and if we don’t they will also not be able to participate effectively in the socio-cultural life of this country. While agreeing with the essence of Thero’s argument, I would object very much to a violation of a parent’s fundamental right to decide which language should be the mother-tongue for their children. The Thero is falsely assuming that mother tongue of families in Sri Lanka has to be Sinhala or Tamil. Many families of mixed parentage or else, choose to use English as the language spoken at home and in school. Typically these are families with well-educated parents in leadership positions in the private or non-governmental sector.
(I wrote this article sometime back at the request of Ms. Chaya Hettige, head of Littel Angels pre-school in Nugegoda. I reproduce it here for parents of Grade V children who just received results of the 2014 scholarship examination) What do our children really need to learn to be well and happy in an increasingly complex and competitive world? How we do we give them an early start? As parents, you already making a good effort by spending much time and energy getting your little ones to and from per-school, burning petrol, fighting the traffic etc, but are we focusing on the important things?
සිස්සත්වේ ජය ටැඹ වෙත ඇදගෙන ගිය අම්මා තාත්තට බැන වදිමින් මට වද දුන් අම්මා වෙල් එළියද ඇලද දොළද තහනම් කළ අම්මා විඳින්න නොව විඳවන්නට මට හුරු කළ අම්මා නෑ මිතුරන්ගේ ඇසුරද මට නැති කළ අම්මා පත්තරවල කට්ටලවල මා තනි කළ අම්මා ළමා ලොවේ සුන්දර දේ වසන් කෙරුව අම්මා අහිමිව ගිය ඒ ලෝකය දෙන්නකෝ මගේ අම්මා ටොකු ඇන ඇන මට වද දී තරඟ කරන අම්මා ලඟින් සිටිය මගේ මිතුරන් දුරස් කෙරුව අම්මා විභාගයේ දින ගනිමින් ජය පැන් බොන අම්මා අගාදයේ දූරටුව ළඟ මා තනි වුනි අම්මා ප්රේමරත්න ගල්හේන
(මෙම ලිපිය 2013 පෙබරවාරි -සැප්තැම්බර් කාලය තුල “අද” පත්රයේ පලවුන ලිපි මාලාවක් අන්තර්ජාලයට ගෙන ඒමේ අරමුණෙන් පලකෙරේ. මෙය වැඩි දියුණු කිරීම සදහා ඔබගේ අදහස්/ප්රශ්න කරුණාකර කොමෙන්ටුවක් ලෙස එක් කරන්න. අධ්යාපනය හෝ පුහුණුව සදහා ආයතන ලැයිස්තුවක් සදහා www.educationforum.lk/higher-education/බලන්න.