‘SL’s education system has plunged to the bottom; time to emulate the Singapore model’

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The Sri Lankan education system has plunged to the bottom and has to be transformed to be on par with those of developed countries. It would be advisable to emulate the Singapore education system to some extent, former Secretary to the Ministry of Education- Dr Tara de Mel said.

“The right to high quality education has to be enshrined in the Constitution of the country. The local university and higher education system has to be depoliticized to circumvent all challenges to the education system in the future, de Mel said at the launch of the People’s Convention for Good Governance, organized by the Trust for Good Governance in Sri Lanka. The event was held recently at the Galadari, Colombo.

De Mel added: ‘Sri Lanka has 10552 government schools with a 3,500,000 student population, out of which very few schools have access to high quality education with IT labs, good quality science labs etc. Accordingly, a large number of schools have no access to high quality education.

‘Depoliticizing and democratizing education for the benefit of the entire population is a prerequisite at this juncture. Students coming from middle income and low income backgrounds should be given a strong English and digital education foundation to face future challenges.

‘Fortunately, during the Covid- 19 pandemic period, students were exposed to digital devices. But in the year 2020 Sri Lanka’s IT literacy rate was less than 40 per cent and 35 per cent of the population did not have any access to IT literacy.

‘Unfortunately, our authorities were never aware of learning losses. Therefore, only children from upper middle income families have access to IT and artificial intelligence, which latter is the way forward.

‘In developed countries learning loss is less than 35 per cent, while in lower income countries learning loss is more than 65 per cent.

‘Sri Lanka has to set up high quality technology/digital based educational institutions, like in India, because by 2030 more than 30 per cent to 40 per cent brand new jobs will come into the world. ‘Therefore, Millennials and the Z generation will be nowhere if the government does not focus on a new education system.

‘The education system has been relegated to the background due to the authorities’ shortcomings. Further, we have never called for a donor conference to obtain funds to develop the education system in the country in the recent past. However, some African countries, such as Rwanda, and several other countries have called for donor conferences.

“The countries that press the correct button will become competitive and face all the economic and social woes without encountering much hardships.’


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