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Sunday December 10th, 2023

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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ADB USD200mn loan for Sri Lanka economic stabilization efforts

ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US 200 million dollar concessional loan to Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s finance sector.

The Financial Sector Stability and Reforms Program comprises two subprograms of IS 200 million dollars each, according to a statement by the ADB.

“The program’s overarching development objective is fully aligned with the country’s strategy of maintaining finance sector stability, while ensuring that banks are well-positioned for eventual recovery,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The expected development outcome is a stable financial system providing access to affordable finance for businesses in various sectors of the economy.”

The ADB statement continues:

“Subprogram 1 targets short-term stabilization and crisis management measures that were implemented in 2023, while subprogram 2 is planned to be implemented in 2024 and focuses on structural reforms and long-term actions to restore growth in the banking sector.

The program will help strengthen the stability and governance of the country’s banking sector; improve the banking sector’s asset quality; and deepen sustainable and inclusive finance, particularly for women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest review, Sri Lanka’s economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, although a full economic recovery is not yet assured.

The program is a follow-on assistance from ADB’s crisis response under the special policy-based loan that was approved for Sri Lanka in May 2023.

It is aligned with the fourth pillar of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility provided to Sri Lanka to help the country regain financial stability.

It is also in line with the government’s reform agenda, including strengthening the operational independence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and its designation as the country’s macroprudential authority.

In designing this subprogram 1 loan, ADB has maintained close coordination and collaboration with the IMF to design targeted regulatory reforms for the banking sector—including the asset quality review—and with the World Bank on strengthening the deposit insurance scheme.

“The loan is accompanied by a $1 million grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund to provide advisory, knowledge, and institutional capacity building for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and CBSL.”

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Sri Lank in blackout as power grid hit by cascading failure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka suffered a blackout as Saturday evening as the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board grid was hit by a cascading power failure.

The cascading failure is believed to have been triggered by the failure of the Kothmale-Biyagama transmission line.

“The Ceylon Electricity Board wishes to inform our customers that due to the failure of Kotmale – Biyagama main transmission line, an island wide power failure has occurred,” CEB Spokesman Noel Priyantha said.

“Step by step restorations are underway and it may take few hours to completely restore the power supply.”

With hydro plants running flat out, a outage of the line tends to create a big imbalance in the demand and supply, leading to tripping of more lines and generators.

Lines can trip due to lightening strikes, or equipment failures.

Sri Lanka last suffered a cascading failure in December 2021, due to the failure of the same transmission line.

RelatedSri Lanka power blackout as grid hit by cascading failure

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Sri Lanka to host regional Food and Agriculture Organization conference

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will host the 37th session of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from February 19-22, 2024 in Colombo.

The Conference will bring together agriculture ministers and officials from 46 countries across the region to discuss challenges in food and agriculture.

“The 37th APRC will provide a vital platform for regional collaboration, benefitting the agricultural landscape, fisheries sector and environment of Sri Lanka,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said at a press briefing on Friday (8) to announce the conference.

FAO has had an active presence in Sri Lanka for over 40 years. “FAO has supported the country in the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and the development of the fisheries sector for growth and climate resilience,” Vimlendra Sharan, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.

“The APRC conference will be an opportunity to highlight the innovative approaches introduced in partnership with the government.”

By hosting APRC, Sri Lanka hopes to demonstrate the country’s dedication to the growth of sustainable agriculture, and showcase its commitment to sustainable agricultural development.

The APRC agenda will include a forum on agritourism, especially requested by the Sri Lankan government.

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