Problem lies with the teaching methods rather than the syllabus itself

Though several educationists berate Sri Lanka's education system, condemning it for being flawed with its inability to nurture and produce holistic individuals rather than so called 'book worms' D.G Sumanasekera, Principal of Vidura College Colombo however opined that the education system was not in a mess like many believed it to be. "There is a general criticism that the Sri Lankan education system is in a mess. I don't deny the fact that there are drawbacks but I can categorically say it's not in a mess. There are strong points in the curriculum which I think are modern and sufficient enough to provide the student with an adequate knowledge of the world around him. However, the only setback I see is that we revise the curriculum too often."

D.G. Sumanasekera, Principal of Vidura College

He pointed out that Sri Lanka should learn and extract the better practices followed by other countries and make crucial amendments if they are beneficial in developing the existing system. However, these modifications should happen within limitations. He also noted that most often than not, the revised syllabi doesn't reach the rural areas, depriving these students of reaping maximum benefits of the free education.

When questioned if the current education system nurtures the creative competency in students he replied "the syllabus allows creative competency, it's embedded within the curriculum. However, the teaching methods are substandard and that's a drawback in developing creativity in students. There's also a lot of administrative mismanagement in national schools. It has become politicized and this has led to the degeneration of the system."

Mr. Sumanasekera believes that the problem lies with the teaching methods rather than the syllabus itself. He explained "teachers need to learn to contribute and do their part well. They need to learn to be a professional. Teachers must put to good use the material provided by the government and constantly upgrade themselves through teacher's guides in order to stay ahead of times and transfer knowledge effectively. I also think that the teacher's job becomes tougher when there are big classrooms to maintain. In order to have a classroom full of high achievers you must reduce the number of students, allowing the teacher to focus on each individual student's strengths and weaknesses.

He further explained the role that Principals and teachers have to play in order to ensure that the education system does not corrode. "Principals run schools, we are not educators we simply manage the operations of the school. The Principal plays a main role and therefore he has to be aware of everything under his administration. As the 'kingpin' of the school, his leadership and strength is important in driving the school forward. Teachers on the other hand play a vital role in educating the students and broadening their perspectives in life. Therefore a teacher should be dedicated to his or her profession. He or she has to have a vision and have professional ethics. A teacher should be able to understand a child's mentality."

Mr Sumanasekera meanwhile advocated the use of English language. "We need to understand the importance of English as a language of communication. There is a visible difference between a student who learns in the English medium and those who study English as a second language. Those who continue their primary and secondary education in English, often standout as individuals and become high achievers in the corporate world as well."

When asked about the contribution of private educators to improve the Education system in Sri Lanka and the government's attitude towards the increasing demand for private education, he emphasized that "just as much as we advocate the concept of free education I think there should be the freedom to educate as well.

As of now the government is the sole proprietor of education, but I think they should give us private educators the space and freedom to give opportunities to provide affordable private education for the masses. The government should regulate private education and provide guidance but not prohibit the spread of private sector education."- Sabhnam Farook

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