he beginning of the new school term for 2019 is sure to make the second year Advanced Level (AL) students step up on their studies. This is the batch that did their Ordinary Level Examination (OL) in 2017, a batch which parents and tuition masters claim received unprecedented success.
The Education Department however hasn’t done a survey to show that the success rate of the OL batch that year (2017) on an average superceded the results of past batches after many years.
But the talk doing the rounds is that a good number of these students, who chose AL science and mathematics streams, going by the results they obtained at the 2017 OL, are struggling to perform.
Does this suggest that the authorities who marked the 2017 OL exam papers showed some leniency towards candidates?
Be that as it may the Education Department through the statistics released to newspapers shows that there has been a considerable success at the 2018 GCE AL exam. Candidates having done the exam in the Biology, Engineering Technology, Biotechnology and Physics streams are reported to have done better than the batch which took up the AL exam in 2017. The point to ponder is whether all these students can be accommodated given that the resources at the government universities are limited.
This is where the value of a private university in the likes of the South Asian International Technology and Medicine (SAITM) is realised.
Students obtaining two As and a B in bioscience or mathematics streams often see their dreams of entering university being disturbed. The B they receive might be just a mark or two shy of being an A. This is cruel from the both the perspective of the student and the teachers who make so much input to the studies of exam candidates. Such students were presented with a golden opportunity to further their higher education at private universities like SAITM.
The last batch of medical students who were educated at SAITM got the greenlight to be absorbed into the Kotalawela Defence University’s Medical Faculty. This was thanks to the instructions issued by President Maithripala Sirisena.
The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) must seriously consider promoting this concept of private universities, especially on behalf of those students who miss entrance to government universities by a whisker. For this to happen the education authorities must take bold decisions and not be intimidated by collectives like the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA).
Given the limited slots in government schools, where students can pursue ALs, the role that international and fully private schools play in educating students must be lauded.
In this context it is interesting to note what parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardene has said in an interview with the Daily Mirror. Gunawardene, a former AL economics tuition master, has showed his disapproval in coupling international schools with national schools when naming the students who receive an island ranking at Education Department conducted exams. Gunawardene has said that he disapproves a student from an international school being ranked island’s first in the AL Arts stream. Gunawardene maintains that there is no provision for that and adds that island rankings should only be given to students of national schools.
If Sri Lanka is to make headway in education this discrimination should stop. It’s high time that the government authorities recognised the efforts of private institutes which also provide a valuable service in the field of education.
Students receiving an education in private educational institutes are also part of the population and should not be discriminated against. If they are not considered for island rankings and government funded education programmes they will never develop loyalty towards this island. The government authorities must work in a manner which ensures that when these privately educated students are ready to serve in the job market they will be compelled to think about their motherland.