Education in Sri Lanka

 Contrary to having the highest number of literate youths for a developing country, Sri Lanka is struggling to keep their education system afloat and their children interested in school.  There have been many changes in Sri Lanka’s education system in the last 200 years due to the shift in governments and expectations from the youth, which is now negatively affecting the quality of education within the country. In The Education System of Sri Lanka, Kamala Liyanage spells out the positive and negatives within the ever growing education system.

How a work ethic can change an entire education system

Imagine trying to receive an education when the whole education system is struggling right there next to you. Sri Lanka’s education system is struggling to keep their students interested and engaged in staying in school, there are many factors that result in this. It seems that the children of Sri Lanka are having trouble staying in school because they are distracted by things that go on in their daily lives, which makes it difficult to accurately apply themselves to the curriculum. So when students are having trouble keeping up in school, hiring a tutor and keeping the highest grades amongst their peers in order to sustain their scholarship only add to their problems. If the student does not have the correct work ethic they will continue to move further and further away from their goal.

Not to mention the crumbing structure of Sri Lanka’s education system that is struggling to keep schools buildings running and employ teachers with the correct qualifications, Liyanage reports that after the GDP funding for education was dropped by the Sri Lankan’s government from 4% down to 1.8% in 1977. With less money to pay educators, teacher with little experience and less passion to educate the future generations of their country are becoming the last option for schools to higher, without teachers who are passionate about what they teach there is no connection between student and teacher. Students all over the world have a better time understanding the material that they are being taught when the teacher invests into the student, ensuring that they completely understand the material at hand. Without that passion students are feeling detached and left wondering why they must learn the material in the first place. Not to mention students that are recently receiving education degrees are noticing that there are not many good paying teaching careers available in Sri Lanka, so they are leaving the country in hope that they will be able to make more money elsewhere.  After the drop in funding, many schools were forced to shut down creating a longer commute for children in more rural areas, leaving some student without a drive to make that trip to receive their education. Lower class families who are having trouble not only finding transportation but are struggling provide basic needs like food and clothing, which makes acquiring an education seem even further from reach.  Students who do travel from far to attend school are most likely able to go because of scholarships, which raises the pressure on the student to do their best and claim a higher ranking among their classmates. Too much added pressure on students can affect the quality of their work and over all mental state, creating a bad image of attending school for students who are interested in pursuing their education.

Schools in rural areas the ones that are at most risk of being neglected and closed. “Two thirds of primary schools and around 30% of all schools have less than 100 students and are located in economically disadvantaged districts. Overt neglect of these schools, failure to appoint qualified principals, and teachers and the absence of basic minimal facilities has resulted in their marginalization. As poor, ill-equipped schools, they are unable to retain their student and are often shut down, depriving children in poor areas to access to education” (Liyanage). The majority of those schools are located in rural areas, cutting off the student age population who are destined to work as farmers passed down from their families, from the chance to receive an education and join a different career field. The schools that were able to stay open had a large decline in the quality of facilities, classroom were less equipped with textbooks and other supplies that are needed on a daily basis. All of these factors attribute to the growing reasons why student do not wish to continue their student after year 9 according to Liyanage.

Room to recover and grow

While Sir Lanka’s education system is struggling there are a few positive aspects which create room to recover and grow. Starting with the free education that is offered for every year of schooling, unlike other countries like America, university level classes are tuition free although student are still required to pay for things like supplies and on campus living. Students who are truly passionate about creating a career for themselves are given more opportunities to follow that specific subject at a university that specializes in the field. The majority of universities did not feel the drop in GDP education funding because they are largely funded by private donors from out of country, with a strong higher education system those who are currently studying in a university are finding it easy to earn a degree, leaving those who are enrolled in a struggling secondary school with hope to find themselves successfully studying in higher education in the future.  Liyanage shows introduces a chart of statistics that represent what types of schools the Sri Lankan population attends, almost 90% of Sri Lankan students will attended a public institute, whereas the low population of upper class families are more likely to put their children through private or religious schooling. Those student who are privileged enough to attend a private or religious school have a higher chance of continuing their education through university level schooling because they are given better learning facilities. Giving students a positive learning environment creates a more driven work ethic and influences students to be more optimistic about their future, not only about their education path but towards a better career that will make them more successful in life. For those who are able to attend school but struggle to pay the extras like learning materials and transportation there are scholarships to aid students through their academic journey, giving all students an equal chance to succeed.

Many developing countries are finding a hard time balancing attendance when it comes to females to males due to tradition and culture, Sir Lanka does not fall under that category. “Significantly. Gender parity was achieved at the primary level by 2006, even in the historically disadvantaged tea estate sector with 94.4 for boys and 94.78 for girls enrolled (dept. of census and statistics, 2006) In 2012, both male and female attendance rate is higher than that of male (female 61% and male 56%) As a result of free education policy female enrollment in universities has increased up to 65% in 201, though it was only 7% more in 1942” (Liyanage). Studies are finding that males are more likely to drop out to join the domestic job market, which is interesting because in other developing countries males are more likely to stay in school to acquire an education so that later down the road they will have access to a more sufficiently paying job, in hopes that they will be able to provide for their families. While girls in other developing countries are not even given the chance to attend school or forced to drop out to care for the rest of their family, girls in Sri Lanka are being given this rare chance to build an education for themselves. In this simple act of attending school, girls from Sri Lanka are empower other girls all over the country and the world to go to school, showing them that working hard and creating an education is the best thing they can invest in for themselves.

Change for future generations 

With more enthusiasm among students to receive an education and better application of funds, Sri Lanka should be able to gain a stable education system throughout the country. For now teachers and high authority in the schools systems should look for different methods to keep students engaged in schooling and take advantage of opportunities fix issues that arise in the classroom. The poor or families in rural areas should be more informed on the job opportunities that can arise from receiving an education that can help their children succeed finicaly that can. With time and word of mouth the people of Sri Lanka can regain a stable education system.

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