Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today said that the government will establish a new public school system that is not based on language or religion within the next two years.
Further “All religious education institutes will be regulated under the purview of the Ministry of Education. It was already decided with the concurrence of the Muslim ministers and the MPs, that Muslim religious education institutes are to be monitored by the ‘Muslim Education Institute Regulation Board’ which is to be established under the purview of Ministry of Education," the Premier said.
The Prime Minister expressed this sentiment at a teaching diploma certificate award ceremony at Temple Trees last morning. “Late Prime Minister DS Senanayake stated that every citizen in this country should think as Sri Lankan’s. However, in the 1970s, there was an ethnic and religious polarisation. There came to be a system in the education sector where schools were decided on the basis of religion and ethnic groups. There were Catholic schools, Buddhist schools, Hindu schools and Muslim schools. Distancing people into communities and religions led to dangerous consequences such as the July 1983 communal riots” the Prime Minister said. “Government has decided to create a situation where people are able to get together again and think as Sri Lanka.
As per this concept, we have decided to make religious and communal-based schools open to all students. There is no issue in naming a school after a saint or a religious leader but students of all communities and religious groups should be allowed to attend the schools. It will take some time for the schools to get used to this system but it has to be done” he added.
The Premier said the government will welcome the ideas of others as well and decide on the policy accordingly. “SLFP had already come up with some useful proposals and we expect a dialogue with other parties as well,” he said, before adding that the government will initially introduce a Madrasa Schools Regulatory Bill. Madrasas will be brought under a board which will be appointed by the Ministry of education. The University Act will also be amended in order to ban Shari'a universities, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe added.
He said all international schools will also be brought under the Ministry of Education and they will be made to introduce local syllabuses. A study will be conducted on the Singaporean education system to see whether Sri Lanka could follow it as a role model.
The Prime Minister congratulated the diploma winners said, the intention of the government is to give more appointments to trained teachers like in many other countries. “The objective of giving appointments to only trained teachers is to maintain the quality of education", he concluded. (Yohan Perera)