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Saturday May 18th, 2024

A centralized education system is a hindrance to reform experts say

FILE PHOTO – Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

ECONOMYNEXT- Centralization of the administration of the country’s education system is the biggest problem which needs to be addressed first when reforming Education in Sri Lanka, Dr Sujatha Gamage, Co-convener of the Education Forum Sri Lanka said.

Gamage, a Fellow and Senior Researcher at LIRNEasia participating in a webinar held by the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) yesterday said that the Education Ministry should clearly identify its role in the education system, which is to create policies, exams and the curriculum required for the students.

She said after continuous demands, the country, at last, got one separate ministry for education, but she added that with the ministry, the country also got 5 silos, referring to the Education Ministry and the 4 state ministries under it.

“Every minister, when they come they think they will become another (CWW) Kannangara, they try to do everything, there are 10,165 schools in the country. Back then when a circular is issued from the ministry, I don’t know about it now, it was copied to the Provincial Secretary, Zonal Secretary and Divisional Secretary of Education and then the principal. It is not necessary, we have 9 provinces, there is no need for the central government to send instructions for them,” she said.

Gamage said that when the ministry conveys the expected results or learning outcomes through policies, the Provincial, Zonal and Divisional secretaries should have the ability to achieve them.

“Instead of that what did the education minister did in the past year? He talked about schools opening and whether the exams will be held, so they have no time to do anything else,” she said.

Also, speaking at the webinar, U.C Wijerathna retired Additional Secretary (Planning and Development) to the Ministry of Education said that out of the educational reforms presented by the current government’s policy statement, attention should also be given to the reform of the management layers in education.

He said that there are delays within the education system due to this increased number of management layers.

Especially, he added there are obstacles in providing solutions to the problems faced by teachers due to the increased management layers.

Currently, he said the issues of teachers are addressed both in Zonal and Divisional levels, “It should be changed to one either Zonal or Divisional level. We have to increase the divisions from 200 to 300 or zones from 99 to 200 which could connect them to the provincial level, for an efficient management structure,” he added.

However, Dr Gamage said that the real problem is not the increase of management layers but the micromanagement of the central ministry.

“Centralising the education system is a problem, Circulars are issued about the requirements for admission for schools but there is a great variety, how can a farmer qualify for those requirements which are issued for the entire country,” she said.

Moreover, she said that the ministry cannot even control the existing 350 national schools properly, “Ministry is not a place which does operations,” Gamage said.

She also said that the requirements of the school in zones and divisions are only known by those officers, so an increase in the management level is not the biggest problem but centralisation of education.

Further, she said that current government policy statement ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour is the best policy statement she has ever seen which talks about education and also the first of the kind to talk about student-centred education rather than examination-centred education.

But she said without providing solutions to structural problems, there is a capability to fail no matter how much the government tries to do educational reforms.

She said that there are structural problems such as politicising education as education is the best sector to gain votes by providing jobs.

Dr Gamage added that out of the current teachers 49 per cent are degree holders but it has been identified that teaching methods of degree holders have failed while teaching methods of teachers who were trained by National Education Colleges are a success.

“Do we need degree holder to teach up until Ordinary Level Examinations? We should create a debate about it. The degree holders were appointed for nothing else except to gain points for the government not only this government but every other government,” she added. (Colombo/Feb15/2021)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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Sri Lanka suffers over $138mn foreign outflow from govt bonds in 2024 after rate cuts

ECONOMYNEXT – Foreign investors have dumped 41.6 billion-rupee ($138.6 million) worth of Sri Lanka government securities in the first 20 weeks of 2024, the central bank data showed, after reduction in the key policy interest rates.

The foreign holding in Sri Lanka’s treasury bills and treasury bonds fell to 75.9 billion rupees on the week ended on Friday (17), May 2024, from 117.4 billion rupees on the week ended on December 29.

The central bank rate has reduced the key policy rates by 50 basis points so far in 2024, extending the rates cut by 700 basis points since June last year.

The rupee appreciated 9.1 percent in the first four months, but the gain failed to attract foreign investors amid a dragged debt restructuring negotiation with external private creditors.

Currency dealers said lackluster demand for dollars due to dampened imports with heavy controls, boom in both tourism revenue and remittances have helped to increase the dollar liquidity in the market, leading to the appreciation of the local currency.

The dealers said foreign investors can earn capital gain if they had bought government securities before the appreciation and now the offshore investors might be selling their bonds.

“They are also discouraged by policy rate cut because that will reduce their returns from the rupee bond investments,” a currency dealer said.

The yield in 12-month T-bills has fallen 336 basis points in the first four months of this year, the central bank data showed.

The central bank also reduced the Statutory Reserve Ratio (SRR) of commercial banks by 200 basis points in August last year to boost liquidity in the market with an aim to reduce market interest rates.

Under tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions for its $3 billion loan program, the central bank raised key monetary policy rates in 2022 and last year to bring down inflation which hit over 70 percent in 2022. The inflation has fallen to the lower single digit now.

The rupee has appreciated to around 300 against the US dollar this week from around 330 level early in November. The local currency was at 365 rupees against the US dollar in early 2022. Depreciation causes capital loss for foreign investors. (Colombo/May 18/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s ‘Sancharaka Udawa’ tourist fair seeks to involve universities

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ‘Sancharaka Udawa’ tourism fair kicked off this week to promote interaction between industry stakeholders and relevant Government bodies, including the Tourist Police, and also universities.

“Several universities, including Colombo, Uva Wellasa, Kelaniya, Sabaragamuwa and Rajarata were given free stalls to facilitate student interaction with industry professionals,” Chairman of the Sancharaka Udawa Organising Committee, Charith De De Alwis said in a statement.

The event takes place today (18) at the BMICH and houses stalls for hoteliers, tour and transport services, with a goal of attracting 10,000 visitors.

Organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), the 11th edition of Sancharaka Udawa offers a platform for both B2B and B2C sectors.

“Sancharaka Udawa houses over 170 exhibitors and a footfall of more than 10,000 visitors,” De Alwis said.

This year’s edition will include participants from outbound tourism sectors to facilitate capacity building. The event provides networking opportunities for industry newcomers and veterans.

“The networking platform offers opportunity for small and medium-sized service providers integrating them into the broader tourism landscape. The anticipated outcome is a substantial increase in bookings particularly for regional small-scale tourism service providers.” (Colombo/May18/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s CEB sells LTL shares to West Coast IPP for Rs26bn

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has sold shares of an affiliate to West Coast Power Company Limited, an independent power producer giving profits of 25.9 billion rupees in the March 2024 quarter, interim accounts showed.

The sale has been carried out as a transfer.

“Twenty-eight percent (28-pct) of share ownership of CEB within LTL Holding’s equity capital has been transferred to West Coast Power Company Ltd for a total consideration of Rs 26 billion as part of a partial settlement of outstanding dues…” the March interim accounts said.

“This transaction resulted in a net gain of Rs25.9 billion rupees which has been recognized and reflected in the ‘Gain from Share Disposal’ in the individual financial statement in CEB.”

LTL Holdings is a former transformer making unit of the CEB set up with ABB where the foreign holding was sold to its management.

The firm has since set up several IPPs.

West Coast Power operates a 300MW combined cycle IPP in Kerawalapitiya promoted by LTL group liked firms in which both the Treasury and Employees Provident Fund also have shares.

Its operational and maintenance contract is with Lakdhanavi, another private IPP. The firm has been paying dividends.

The capital gain from the transfer of shares helped the CEB post profits to 84 billion rupees for the March 2024 quarter.

CEB reported gross profits of 62.7 billion rupees from energy sales and 30.6 billion rupees in other income and gains in the March 2024 quarter. Other income was only 3.1 billion rupees in last year. (Colombo/May18/2024)

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