Sri Lanka is at the peak of global educational standards. The Island Nation is at the highest position in the literacy rate in the South Asian region, and also at a respectable position in global literacy-based rankings. But there is always a question as to whether the practicality of Sri Lanka’s education system is up to standards. The outcome of the education system remains questionable as far as the basics of Sri Lanka’s education and especially the teaching system are concerned.
The Advanced Level examination, held under the General Certificate of Education system in Sri Lanka, is one of the hardest and high standard examinations in the world. But, is there any meaningful outcome of this so-called examination? A Subject, which has been taught for nearly three years and tested within only five hours, through written papers, does not show any justifiable quality of Sri Lanka’s education system. Any student who has three simple passes in the Advanced Level examination is eligible for university entry under Sri Lanka’s education system. But, university entry has become a limited opportunity due to lack of facilities, and also, accommodation of such a huge number of students results in students with three “A” passes being not even selected for university entry.
The point is, Sri Lanka’s education system is purely based on theoretical aspects, and it lacks necessary practical aspects, especially practical teaching methods. The education system, after the colonial era, has not changed over the last 70 years thanks to never-ending political calculations.
The story of little Megha Wijewardane, a nine-year-old Sri Lankan child living in Australia who recently won the title “Junior Ambassador of NASA”, is giving a motivational push to change the education system in Sri Lanka. Megha would have never achieved it, had he lived in Sri Lanka, due to the prevailing education system which simply ignores the talents of children, youngsters and even adults. This is a single example and there are thousands of children in Sri Lanka like Megha who are extremely talented in many areas but have no choice but to adhere to the current education system which gives them nothing but theoretical knowledge.
Recommendations to uplift the quality of deliverables/ outcomes of Sri Lanka’s education system:
1. Executing practicality-based teaching and learning methods
Practicality in education is a must; and Western countries and developed Asian countries are well-equipped with practicality-based education. Sri Lanka needs an education system which focuses on not only theory-based education, but also practicality-based education.
2. Executing a “Student-centric” education system instead of traditional ‘Teacher-centric’ education
This must also be executed as an education-based strategy where student-centric education system will always motivate students, and require them to be the most vital and the main role in studies. The proposed system helps students to find their own ways to learn things. Meanwhile, teachers will have to play a guide’s role under the student-centric approach, which is opposite to what is being currently practiced in Sri Lanka’s education system.
3. Encouraging “Assessment-Centric assessing methodology” to measure student’s level of understanding
Sri Lanka’s current education system consists of an examination-based assessment system, which has been proven to be an utter failure as an assessment methodology. A methodically-developed “Assessment-Centric assessing methodology”, with a blend of examination system, must be executed as an assessment system where students will satisfactorily perform as far as their respective modules are concerned.
4. Encouraging an education system aimed at profession and tertiary education from lower grades
Once the students are equipped with the basics of education, including literacy-based aspects, it is the time for tertiary education and practicality-based learning to be executed in the study environment. This strategy will help students to get the practical exposure of what they like to do and what they like to be in the future.
Sri Lanka needs professionals with practical exposure and those who understand how to use their education for the development of the country. Qualifications limited to papers will do nothing compared to practical education which will contribute to the development of the nation. Wake up and think, this is our turn to change the system.
By Dinum Nisansala (Independent Business Consultant)