Need for broad-based high school education through multidisciplinary approach urged



  • UGC to push State universities to manage intakes on various disciplines, employability factor
  • Sri Lanka urged to learn lessons from India’s experience
  • Need to transform education from teacher-centric to student-centric urged


Sri Lanka is urged to broad-base its high school education system through a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to prepare future graduates to stay relevant in the dynamic economy. 

“We are creating silos in Advanced Level (A/L) such as Agriculture, Science, and Commerce. That should not be happening as the world is moving away from that,” University Grant Commission (UGC), Vice Chairman, Professor P.S.M Gunaratne said. 

 He shared these remarks addressing the conference on ‘Social and Cultural Nexus of Science and Technology Development (SCST) organised by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Colombo last week. 

Although, Sri Lanka continues to follow the education policy framework inherited from Colonial masters, Prof. Gunaratne noted that United Kingdom, United States and Canada have broad based the school education system.

He pointed out that Maths, Science including Social Science and Languages have become essential subjects in their curriculums. 

At tertiary level, Prof. Gunaratne said the universities internally must take measures to increase multi and interdisciplinary approaches in education. 
The UGC has been able to substantially increase the number of State university entrants in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to 40-45 percent of all entrants this year compared to 25-30 percent four years ago. 

Prof. Gunaratne noted that 12 technology faculties, two medical faculties and an engineering faculty were added to the State university system over the past four years.
Further, he emphasised that UGC will continue to push the State universities to manage their intakes in various disciplines based on the employability factor. 
Meanwhile, speaking on the conference, University Grants Commission of India, Vice-Chairman, Dr. Bhushan Patwardhan noted that Sri Lanka has a better chance of changing the education system than India, particularly in relation to enhancing quality and relevance in education considering its relatively smaller population in the region. 
He also urged Sri Lanka to learn lessons from India’s experience while emphasising that the education shouldn’t be defined in a narrow sense in policy making. 
“In our new educational policy, we are moving away from this concept of Human Resource Development, because we believe that education is mere Human Resource Development. Our Ministry will be renamed as Ministry of Education from Ministry of Human Resource Development,” he went on to say. 

Dr. Patwardhan also outlined that education needs to transform from teacher-centric to student-centric as information has readily become available for everyone at present. 
 “We don’t realise that the era in which information holding was considered the power has gone. The students have become better in getting information than teachers. 

Therefore, the teachers cannot monopolise with age-old notes. In India, We are now moving to learning mechanism; it’s about teacher-student dialogue now,” elaborated.  
Further, he also insisted that the industry must also play an active role in human resource development in higher education rather than solely relying on the university system that produces graduates who are compatible to their industries. 

“The Industry is not willing to invest anything in education; they want ready-made products to be delivered by universities. They must understand that it’s also their responsibility,” he stressed. (NF)


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