Mandatory 13 year education policy mooted | Sunday Observer

Mandatory 13 year education policy mooted

The pilot program for the implementation of mandatory education for 13 years is scheduled to commence in September 2017. Under this initiative education will be mandatory for a student until Year 13 and the GCE O/L examination will no longer be a strictly “pass or fail” exam. Students will be promoted to the next class in accordance with the new education system which the government intends to introduce. Every student will remain in school after the O/L examination. It is in keeping with the Government’s proposal to lessen the burden of examinations on the students.

Additional Secretary, Planning and Performance Review, Ministry of Education, S. U. Wijeratne spoke to the Sunday Observer about the pilot program set to commence. He said, “Rs. 5 Bn has been allocated for the implementation of the new policy scheduled to begin in September. The mapping, identifying school centers has been completed, and 42 National Schools selected, and 4,419 students identified as new admissions for the Grade 12 professional subjects for 2017.”

Wijeratne, speaking further, explained the current position thus:

“The provision of infrastructure facilities have commenced for the 42 National Schools with additional classrooms, workshops, smart classrooms, laboratories, furniture, equipment and other infrastructure facilities.

They comprise: 134 classrooms, 27 smart classrooms, 27 multipurpose rooms, 33 aesthetic units, 25 vocational libraries and 92 interactive boards. The requirement for equipment have been submitted to the Procurement Divisions. A discussion has been held on the construction of infrastructure facilities for the 42 schools with Provincial Technical Officers. A meeting was held with tertiary Education and Vocation Commission (TEVC) on matching professional subjects with the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) framework".

Discussions on

He said, they had an awareness programs for School Principals on the new education policy. “The Ministry of Education commenced a discussion with the Principals of core schools and feeder schools on school admission. We also commenced a teacher training program on generic skills (Common Program) by the National Institute of Education (NIE). The Education Ministry started the process for recruitment of teachers for professional subjects which is going to be introduced from 2018. 125 National and Provincial Schools have been identified for the second pilot program next year,” he said.

According to Wijeratne, the Education Ministry would offer students the option to follow vocational training after the O/L examination, which is the reason for the introduction of the 13 years of mandatory education. “We will introduce a stream for Vocational Studies as an option for the G.C.E A/L examination. If students prefer, they could continue two more years after the O/Ls to offer this stream. A vocational stream will be introduced to the A/Ls, similar to the present A/L stream. After the completion of the Vocational Studies, we propose to give students a National Vocational Certification, but it is not confirmed, yet,” he said.

“It is not compulsory for students to stay for 13 years, but is an option. We expect to get the NVQ Accreditation for the certificate that we issue. It is equal to NVQ Level 4. However, nothing could be confirmed yet, as we are in the process of discussion. Since it is a pilot program these proposals may even be scrapped later, because vocational training has not been successful in local schools so far. However, it has been successful in countries like Germany because those countries are more industry focused,” Wijeratne said.

Wijeratne added that currently Sri Lanka lacks places to provide students with the required training, unlike countries like Germany. “The Vocational Centers in Sri Lanka operate only in the Sinhala medium, so that the estate sector has a big demand for instructors. These are issues we have to deal with. The vocational stream comprises 26 subjects, and training should be given in all subjects.

Therefore, the Education Ministry would need places to conduct training, and teachers knowledgeable in the particular subjects. Cash will also be provided for students to study beyond NVQ Level 4. Such students would have to be assessed, after which they can get the NVQ Level 4 certificates,” he said.

“Information Technology, Citizenship, English and Entrepreneurship will be taught for these students for six months, while an introductory course of the vocational subjects and a career guidance will be conducted for two months.

Each year 325,000 students join Grade One but only a few qualify to enter University. The aim of the 13 year mandatory education policy is to ensure that all 325,000 students reach professional level. It is a good program which will add value to the free education system. It will give an opportunity to children below average in their studies to gain professional qualification and succeed in life,” Wijeratne said. Wijeratne also explained the shortcomings in the present education system. He pointed out that today, University entrance is gained by a majority of female students and that perhaps, it may be due to a weakness in the education system that male students lack creativity and dedication making them fall behind in their studies. “At Grama Sevaka exams three quarters of the successful candidates are females.

Biological factors

This is a weakness in the education system. During the recent floods, for example, female Grama Sevakas could not visit the affected people and provide the necessities due to biological factors, so males need to play these roles, and it is the reality,” he said.

“Success at the Sri Lanka Administration Examination too is dominated by women.

This shows that males are falling behind, and therefore we need to take them back to the system as they end up doing jobs like driving three-wheelers, etc.or get involved in illegal activities like the drug trade. Every year 120,000 students drop out without going in for Higher studies. Hence, the present system of vocational training in the country is not attractive to students. This is a big issue today, but it does not mean that vocational training courses are ineffective,” Wijeratne explained.

“We expect 80,000 students to join the new program. We do not force students to follow the Vocational stream. If a student wishes to do the A/L a second time, he/ she may do so. Students will also be entitled to a bursary during their studies.

They will learn mainly through training. Though 26 subjects are to be introduced it might have to be expanded later to suit the different areas of the country. Vocational subjects will be 80 percent practical and 20 percent theory. We propose to outsource teachers who will be paid from the grant, which will be carried out through a School Procurement Committee. We are trying our best to achieve success. We have sent the documents to the President and are awaiting Cabinet approval,” he said.

The proposed 26 vocational subjects are: Child Psychology and Care, Health and Social Care, Physical Education and Sports, Performing Arts, Event Management, Arts and Crafts, Interior Designing, Graphic Designing, Arts and Designing, Landscaping, Applied Horticulture, Livestock Product Studies, Food Processing Studies, Aquatic Resource Studies, Plantation Product Studies, Construction Studies, Automobile Studies, Electrical and Electronic Studies, Textile and Apparel Studies, Metal Fabrication Studies, Aluminum Fabrication Studies, Software Development, Web Designing, Tourism and Hospitality and Environmental Studies. 

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