ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s education system must change from one that aims to force as much learning as possible at the preschool and primary levels to a more staggered, age-appropriate learning process in line with UNESCO standards, Education Minister Susil Permajayantha said.
Speaking at an event on Monday October 16, Premajayantha called for reforms in school education.
“Children are taught all letters and numbers and everything there is to learn at just three, four years of age. This is wrong,” he said.
“There are fundamentals of education. UNESCO has classified standards for primary and secondary education,” he added.
The event was a birth anniversary commemoration of C W W Kannagara who was instrumental in introducing free education in Sri Lanka.
Premajayantha said a specific level of competence is expected from children at first, after which teachers can move on to instilling skills.
The minister said parents in Sri Lanka want their children to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible, which he said is not in line with universal standards.
“This education system has to undergo a change. This change has been discussed for a long time, but wasn’t carried out. It has to be done. Otherwise, we cannot move forward,” he said.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED), is a standard framework used to categorise and report cross-nationally comparable education statistics. According to the ISCED 2011 classification adopted by UNESCO, early childhood education programmes are “typically designed with a holistic approach to support children’s early cognitive, physical, social and emotional development and introduce young children to organised instruction outside of the family context.”
At this level, programmes are not necessarily highly structured but are designed to provide an organised and purposeful set of learning activities in a safe physical environment. They allow children to learn through interaction with other children under the guidance of staff/educators, typically through creative and play-based activities.
Primary education programmes, meanwhile, are “typically designed to provide students with fundamental skills in reading, writing and mathematics (i.e. literacy and numeracy) and establish a solid foundation for learning and understanding core areas of knowledge, personal and social development, in preparation for lower secondary education. It focuses on learning at a basic level of complexity with little, if any, specialisation.” (Colombo/Oct17/2023)