State Minister of Education Reforms, Open Universities and Distance Learning Promotion – Dr. Susil Premajayantha said that although Sri Lankans are rich in knowledge and attitudes, there is scope for improvement when it comes to skills.
The State minister was speaking during a media conference in Colombo last week. The event featured education reforms and technical assistance for the Sri Lanka’s Secondary Education Sector Improvement Programme (SESIP). The Asian Development Bank has selected an international consortium to provide technical assistance for SESIP. The Consortium is led by the University of Helsinki HY+, includes the University of Turku from Finland, the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) and the Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI).
A delegation from the consortium, the secretary of the Education Ministry – Prof. Kapila Perera, secretary of the Education Reforms State Ministry – Dr. Upali Sedere and the DG of the National Institute of Education – Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne were among the distinguished guests at the event.
‘Rich in knowledge & attitudes, but not skills’
Speaking, the minister said that “We are rich in knowledge and attitudes but we have to improve a lot in the field of skills.” Proving his point, the minister brought out an example saying that although undergraduates pass out, except for a few faculties like medicine and engineering, all other graduates need to be trained before being employed. That is why renowned experts are here to assist us on how to develop skills like in Finland, he added.
In short, the goal of our educational reforms is to place more weight in the skills department while reducing the weight placed on exams. Unlike in our country, there are no exams until 09 years of education are given in Finland. But this does not mean that exams will be cut out entirely. However, the weight placed on exams and the children must be reduced. The method of assessment must be changed, he added.
Only 30% have online facilities
Noting that around 80% of children begin learning from 1-5 years of age, the minister said they cannot begin to comprehend the damage and loss to children of Grades 1-2 due to schools being closed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. If anyone says, there was online lessons, only 30% of schoolchildren have online facilities in Sri Lanka, he said.
Briefing of alternate career paths
Meanwhile, Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne, the DG of the NIE said the new reforms will focus on those who fall out after not qualifying for university education. He also said that they feel that the youth must be made aware of the alternate career paths in life.
Meanwhile, Secretary of the Education Reforms State Ministry – Dr. Upali Sedere spoke about the access to national schools to ensure equality to all students. He pointed out that there is a sharp disparity in facilities between schools of all types and it was observed that only 22% of Sri Lankan receive a national school at Grade 06. He stated that they hoped to increase this percentage to 70%.