By Sarah Hannan
Reforming a country’s education system is a difficult task. While it is easy to modify an existing system, it is difficult to reform and reorganize it. The upcoming education reforms in Sri Lanka will bring about drastic changes in several sectors.
In this regard, the Presidential Working Group (PTF) on Educational Affairs of Sri Lanka has set a goal of reducing the unskilled labor force population to 10% by 2025.
The PTF had recommended that in order to effectively change the education system and its outcomes in the future, the content and supportive learning programs should be developed, the learning infrastructure to facilitate reformed programs should be improved and interventions at the political level must be introduced.
Following these recommendations, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the National Institute of Education (NIE), worked on the reforms underway in the country.
With schools reopening after an extended shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the education system in urgent need to cover subjects in a short period of time, the Ministry of Education and the NIE have prepared modules for the subjects taught in all classes of the last months.
According to the Director General of the NIE, Dr Sunil Jayantha Navaratne, children will be able to complete these modules in 10 hours.
âOur education only includes the parts of reading, writing and math ability. However, 21st century education requires learning skills, literacy skills and life skills. We hope to give the child the same creativity, resourcefulness, ability to work with others, communication skills and flexibility through further educational reforms.
âUnder the current education system, after the teacher has taught a lesson, students take notes and then take the exam. Therefore, the current education system only measures knowledge and memory, and does not assess a child’s creativity, resourcefulness and communication skills. In addition, we need to create teachers who supervise and guide children rather than lecturing them, âobserved Dr Navaratne.
Dr Navaratne also noted that the NIE hoped to expand general education through six objectives;
Raise someone who can actively contribute to national developmentProduce an efficient and productive employee or a skilled self-employed workerTrain someone with good entrepreneurial skills or a good mindsetProduce a patriotic citizenProduce a good human beingCreate a good family member
By developing an active person who can contribute to the development of the country, the NIE works on the personalization of education to enable each child to contribute to the national economy according to their abilities and talents. The NIE believes that education should help create more effective and efficient workers.
âWe hope that as part of these new educational reforms, we will be able to instill entrepreneurship in children. Therefore, in order to create a good entrepreneur, the necessary skills and mindset must be cultivated through education, âexplained Dr Navaratne.
Speaking about the ongoing reforms, State Secretary for Reforms of the Ministry of Education, Open Universities and Promotion of Distance Learning, Dr Upali Sedara noted: âIt was easy to introduce reforms in preschool education, as there was a lack of policy for this. As a result, we were able to design a policy for preschool education and get cabinet approval. In the meantime, several changes are underway in the curriculum of the country’s secondary education system, shifting from lower secondary classes to advanced-level GCE (A / L) classes.
According to Dr Sedara, the school education sector covering grades 1 to 13 is known as general education; it is further divided into three segments: primary education (levels 1 to 5), lower secondary education (levels 6 to 11) and secondary education, which takes place during GCE A / L classes ( levels 12 to 13).
âIf we try to change the content that is found in the textbooks and continue to follow the existing education system, it will not work. We will not be able to change society either. Over the past 70 years, we have failed to change the education system and now we are suffering the consequences â, D.r. Sedara explained further.
These reforms would ensure access to an education reflecting current and evolving industry needs and instill curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and empathy in students. These changes will help to create a disciplined, healthy, stress-free generation with an inquisitive mind, instead of a generation stressed out due to a competitive environment and possessing only literary knowledge.
As Dr Sedara said, the new education reforms will change this method of education. âWe recognized the importance of developing the knowledge, skills and capacities of citizens so that the country can move forward. To achieve this, we need to create an environment that offers our young people and local entrepreneurs new opportunities, giving everyone new hope and a sense of pride, where people can use their skills, talents and business acumen. to be world leaders in any field. of their choice.
When asked how the reformed education system would be different from the current education system, Dr Sedara explained that the Sri Lankan school system is guided by exam-based education and children are required to memorize the content. courses in their textbooks and reproduce it. by taking exams.
âThe new reformed curriculum would be modular learning, which encourages the child to learn for himself and to perform tasks for which he would use his creative and cognitive capacities. This, in turn, can also improve a child’s ability to work in groups and give him the opportunity to learn through research as well, âconcluded Dr Sedara.