Suggestions to overcome shortcomings in secondary education | Sunday Observer

Suggestions to overcome shortcomings in secondary education

29 November, 2020

In response to the article in the Sunday Observer on October 18, 2020, titled Suggestions to overcome shortcomings in secondary education, I thought of writing this article in supplement to the same topic. I wish to thank Lakdasa Hulugalle and Anton Peiris for their proposals to relieve the burden of schoolchildren.

In your article I read that the Education Minister had said that the students have no time to play or be engaged in extra-curricular activities and their life is complicated by the necessity to attend tuition classes. This is because education has become a competition. I know of a parent who kicked his 10-year-old son because of the child’s failure at the Year 5 scholarship examination, and of some suicide cases of G.C.E. O/L and A/L students after failing their examinations. Today’s schoolchildren have to attend two schools from 7.30 am to 1.30 pm the Government school and from 2.00 pm to 6.30 pm the private school. They return home with the dusk, fully tired and exhausted, hoping to retire to bed.

If there is anyone who could stop this miserable system of education, he or she does not need any more merits to attain Nibbana or go to heaven. In other countries, children have enough time to go on picnics over the weekend, play games or engage in sport or take part in dramas.

Your proposal to reduce the number of subjects to seven at the G.C.E. O/L examination is laudable. I suggest that the seventh subject should be Literature, which offers life experiences with aesthetic flavour. It is better if we can introduce Sinhala and English literature, which helps inculcate values in children.

Teacher training

Subject centered teacher training was introduced after abolishing integrated teacher training. There are pros and cons in this too. When the Music teacher is on leave, there is no one in the staff to teach Music. As a remedial step to this, Dance and Art teachers should be trained to teach Music. Not essentially the practical side, but at least the theoretical aspect can be taught in the same way; Music and Art teachers to teach Dance, and Dance and Music teachers to teach Art.

This is a task which comes under the purview of the Aesthetic teacher training college. This could be expanded to other subjects too. I suggest that the teacher training college curriculum be revised accordingly to mould future artistes, composers of music and lyrics, novelists and playwrights.

Creativity comes before all the other components. This is vital part in human skills through which the world has benefited from time immemorial. Not only science and technology from the bullock cart to spacecraft, but also songs and everything else has been developed due to creativity. The lifestyle of human beings has been changed and made comfortable through this skill. Creative thinking comes from free mind. We could ascertain this by studying the lives of the famous inventors. I do not say that private tuition should be banned, but to reverse to the system that existed before the 1980s and to stop the pressure by the teachers on schoolchildren to attend private classes. We have to change the attitude of the people on education that a child should get nine A passes at the G.C.E. O/L examination and three A passes at the A/L examination.