In a range of drastic reforms in national education, the government would abolish the Z score system for university entrance and increase the number of national schools to 1,000 from the current 374 - giving at least one national school to each Divisional Secretariat where not a single national school exists right now, Education Minister Dulles Alahapperuma said.
The new university entrance standard based on school level instead of district level will be applied to university admissions in 2021 for students sitting the GCE A/L examination in 2020, he added.
The upgrading of 626 schools as national schools will begin immediately and the Cabinet approval for these reforms was granted on Tuesday (10), Minister Alahapperuma told the Cabinet news briefing today.
“There are 10,175 schools for 4.5 million students in the country but only 374 of them are so-called prestigious or popular schools, officially identified as national schools. The objective of the new government is to give at least one national school to each divisional secretary zone in difficult areas where not a single national school is located. In 124 divisional secretary zones in the country, not a single national school exists while there are 37 national schools in 13 divisional secretariat zones in Colombo. In the North, there are only 26 national schools in 38 divisional secretariat zones. In some difficult areas, the situation is worse. What we want is to create an opportunity for each and every student in education,” Minister Alahapperuma noted.
Commenting on the Z score introduced in 1994 for university entrance, Minister Alahapperuma said the system has created many a discrepancies and disadvantage for GCE A/L students.
“Under the current system, 40% of students are enrolled on the national merit list, 55% from the district list and 5% from difficult areas. An A/L qualified student in a difficult district like Monaragala or Mullathivue must relatively compete with a student in Colombo who is at an advantage. That is why we have decided to change the selection on the district level and select students for University on the school level and on a merit list to make it easier for an A/L qualified student in a remote area to enter a University,” Minister Alahapperuma emphasised.
A committee of eminent persons comprising representation from the University Grants Commission (UGC), Education and Higher Education and top educationists comprise the committee and submit a report to cabinet after having a dialogue with all stakeholders, the academia, the public and political parties.
Minister Alahapperuma said the new reforms were a paradigm shift in the national education in Sri Lanka and a pledge given by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his national policy framework or the election manifesto, themed ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’.(Sandun A Jayasekera)