Lanka aims to reform education system

Sri Lanka’s education minister recommended sweeping changes to the country’s education system in parliament on Wednesday.

By Qadijah Irshad

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Published: Sat 24 Aug 2013, 12:14 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:15 PM

The new education policy titled Parliament’s ‘New Educational Policies and Proposals for General Education in Sri Lanka’ is based on recommendations made by a special parliamentary committee on education.

“This new national policy on education has been designed to survive changes of governments,” said Education Minister Bandula Gunawardane.

“The proposals are based on suggestions made before a committee comprising 23 members of parliament belonging to both the government and opposition parties,” he added.

The recommendations included educational, religious and social changes within and outside the current school system and introduction of a dedicated TV channel for education.

One of the proposals called for an increase in the compulsory education age from 5 to 14 to 5 to 16 years. Due to the free education system, Sri Lanka always maintained a high literacy rate, currently at 92 per cent. However, according to a recent Unicef study, dropout of Sri Lankan students when they reach middle school is the highest.

Proposals stipulate that children should have the right to learn and practice their religions within their schools, preschool education be monitored by a central authority and that the use of cellular phones within schools should be banned. The education minister also called for banning private tuition classes held during school hours.

Other recommendations included updating of the school syllabi and learning and teaching processes every five years in line with global trends. Training of teachers as well as a code of ethics for them has also been emphasised in the proposed reforms.

The minister said the final draft was based on recommendations made by more than a thousand individuals associated with the educational field.

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