By Sandun A. Jayasekera
In a series of far-reaching recommendations to de-politicise and develop the national education system to meet future challenges, the National Education Commission (NEC) has recommended prohibiting the participation of elected representatives in school functions and ceremonies of any kind as a named guest, NEC Chairman Prof. Lakshman Jayatilleke said yesterday.
The NEC, among other recommendations, also wants to prohibit the naming of a school or any part thereof after any person and to put an end to the use of school activities and functions in any venue for sales promotion and propaganda.
Other key recommendations in the report titled ‘Proposals for a national policy on general education in Sri Lanka’ under the theme ‘Raising the quality of education’ presented to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are: to prohibit, under the threat of dismissal of students, the participation in sales promotion and political propaganda of any kind in matters directly or indirectly relating to the school by: teachers, principals, administrators, managers of schools and education offices, and employees of provincial ministries of education and of the Education Ministry; Specify the number of days the schools should be operated per year, the distribution of these days into terms and vacations in the overall ‘General Education Calendar,’ specify the arrangements of working hours for pupils and teachers during the terms, and the working day arrangement for teachers and support personnel during the vacations. Specify that all schools conduct extra-curricular activities outside classroom learning periods and ensure students participate in activities in at least two of the following areas - sports, cultural activities, handicraft activities and group activities to hone skills in organising, discussing, debating, public speaking and negotiating with the objectives of social progress and environmental conservation;
Provide for the regulation, registration and inspection of any premises and facilities used for giving private tuition to groups of 20 or more Sri Lankan children, licensing persons engaged as private tutors to ensure they are competent to function in that capacity and for enforcing the custodial function of the owners and operators of private tutoring establishments; specify the penalties for violating the provisions in the legislation and the respective-disciplinary authorities.
Provide for the creation and operation of the school board for each institution, with reporting mechanisms that ensure accountability to the wider community; provide for the creation and operation at the General Education Development Fund;
Given the many developments since the last comprehensive Education Act, there is need to expedite the introduction of a new one, which has been in preparation for a decade. The purpose of educational legislation is to prohibit the participation of elected representatives in school functions and ceremonies of any kind as a named guest; Specify the qualifications of persons who serve as teachers, instructors, administrators, managers and executives in the General Education system;
Declare school as the educational service provider to the children of its community;
Declare the General Education system as including all public and private sector institutions, and formal and non-formal arrangements for educating and tutoring Sri Lankan children and youth from infancy to 18 years of age;
Define “student” for the purposes of this Act as a Sri Lankan from 4 to 18 years of age who is being served in any way by the General Education system as declared above;
Provide for the establishment of an authority within the Education Ministry for the regulation, registration, enforcement of standards and quality control of private schools and international schools that educate Sri Lankan children;
Prof. Jayatilleke told Daily Mirror that the Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, who is his school mate at Royal College, was keen to implement the proposals of the report after reviewing it thoroughly.
- NEC wants to prohibit the naming of a school or any part thereof after any person
- Seeks to prohibit participation in sales promotion and political propaganda in school matters