The education systems in Sri Lanka

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Education is a fundamental aspect for any society. Early education system was not an efficient system as it mainly focused on the progress of individual character instead of professional development. Subsequently, with the augment of the complexity of the all the fields, the requirement of streamlined education system arises in the society. As a result, School has been emerged. However, as per the tome " The Republic " by famous scholar Plato, the education cannot be limited only to the schools. As per his visualization education is a force which builds, streamlines and cleans the society". It means that the education is a broad spectrum that steers the way towards the success of the society.


The book 'Ape Adyapanaye Sebe Muhunuwara' by Mr. Samarasinghe Gunasekara's reveals that there are two types of schools in Sri Lanka. They are Privileged Schools, which are known as popular urban national schools and Unprivileged Schools known as rural schools. Therefore, the demand for privileged urban schools is very high in addition to the high student population in them. There are numerous aspects attributable to the reputation of these schools. Majority of parents vigorously believe that, these schools guide and elevate their children to higher and privileged society. Moreover, they are on the thought that English education is the mean of transition from disadvantaged class to advantaged class. 


The article 'Higher Education of Sri Lanka: Need for change in Attitude' written by SB Siyambalapitiya to the Sri Lankan Journal of Educational research, volume 9, no 1, 2005 has emphasized that the present government policy in grade one school admission should be reformed including enforcement facilities as certain malpractices have been suppressed the present system. The government's new admission policy is also similar to the previous one. Therefore, it is very unlikely that the attitudes of parents concerning admission of their offspring to school will differ significantly.

The article written by Mr, Andrew Scott on 'The bane of school admission' to the Daily News paper published on 07 February 2009 has emphasized that parents face various difficulties in finding a recognized school for their children. On their way, they even encounter irregularities as well. This indirectly displays parents favor to the urban national schools instead of rural schools. At the end of his article, he has proposed that the best option to solve this problem is to provide equal facilities in all schools without discriminating between the rural schools and the schools in the towns. It shows there is such a big disparity between rural and urban schools, which ultimately create negative attitude towards the rural school among parents. This reminds us the once popular slogan in the insurrection in 1989 "kolambata kiri apata kekiri" .

The project report published by the Transparency International Sri Lanka on 'Corruption in Education in Sri Lanka ' has highlighted ample facts on the parents' optimistic stance towards the urban national schools. It has been proved that the reputation of schools plays a significant role in parents when selecting a school to admit their children to grade one. Middle class parents with higher ambitions to achieve the upward social mobility take into account the reputation of the school, extracurricular activities, sport facilities and English teaching in addition to examination results when seeking admission for their children. Many parents were of the view that even if their children failed at the examination, being "old students" of a good school would help them to secure lucrative, respectable jobs in the private sector. This demand for classy schools led to high competition, creating disparities among schools, reflected by students at the year-5 scholarship and O/L and A/L examinations.


According to the National Report, Ministry of Education on year 2004 there is a tendency of shifting children from rural schools to reputed urban national schools, which may ultimately be abounded the complete rural education system. It is found that 28% of the total rural schools in Sri Lanka have less than 100 students, and admission rate is also at the decline stage. In addition, 183 schools were out of admission from the year 2003(Attach as Annex-H). The report further stressed that the main reasons for the issue are.

Illiteracy rate of the parents who do not value children's education.

Due to under staff of the schools.

Extreme poverty of parents.

In the book "Education in Rural Areas" by Mr, Seetharamu AS and Mr, Ushadevi MD (1985) has mentioned that, the key motives which effect to the closure of the rural schools in India are premature dropouts and gush towards the urban schools. As the prime route course, he highlighted the family background of the individual student. Further, he stressed that in India 65.2% fathers and 93.5% mothers of above children are illiterates. We cannot say that this is similar to our scenario. Closing of the rural schools in India is primarily happen due to premature school dropouts. However, as India and Sri Lanka located within the same region and closer proximate to each other, booth may consist with common reasons which effects to the issue.

"The Black Board in the Jungle: Formal Education in Disadvantaged Rural Areas", by Mrs, Baker J Victoria include four specific researches and six case studies in six villages located within the Monaragala district. He highlighted many disadvantages in rural school system. As per his researches the main factors that adversely effect to the rural education system are family income, environmental disadvantages, mortality rate, social environment, parent-school relationship, educational technologies, foreign policies Etc. Though he has stressed on many facts there should be one key reason which may be parental attitude. Therefore, finding exact reason is paramount.

The research on " Pedagogical Sustainability of Rural schools and its relationship with Community " by Shelly Kinash and Michelle Hoffman (2009) describes " Rural schools are poor second cousin to urban schools and problematical families enrolling their children in rural schools ". Moreover, according to Queensland Department of Education school closure spreadsheets Australia, an average of two rural schools has closed down per year since 2003. The reasons highlighted are traveling distance to other schools and Demographic trends (Aging population, declining birth rate, Changing-farming practices). In addition, the author specifically mention that the main reason for the closure of rural schools of Australia is that the parents preference to educate their children out side of the rural communities.

And they have reasoned that this is mainly because the misconception that bigger and privet is better (Public Perception). Even the study is based on Australian rural education; the authors' perception has significant bearing on parents' attitude, which could take as a fact to raise my study.

According to Sunday Times newspaper article published on 14 Oct 2009 regarding Minister Vidura Wikramanayake's speech on a meeting held at Horana Medhankara Central Collage, he has stressed that most of the parents aspire to admit their children to the best schools. Therefore, majority of rural schools are in crucial condition, and he further described that their should not be schools categorized as good and bad, as all are impart the same education in the same system. In this author highlights disparity among schools is the route course, though I believe that parent's attitude overrides all.

Professor Ranjith Ruberu has written a book called " Some Issues in Sri Lankan Education ". According to his views, by the beginning of the every year parents having children of school admission age get busy trying to find places in schools they wish to have their children in. The universally accepted principle that a parent enjoys the right to choose any school they like. In reality, only a limited number of state schools situated in urban area that are serving the social elite has been developed to high standards of excellence in curricular provision, staffing and facilities, while majority of the other schools in government system remain in an appalling state of under development and neglect.

Parents therefore, make every effort to admit their children to these popular schools, which no one fault. To give a good education to their children is a reasonable desire. In this way, the community patronizes the more developed urban schools and there by contribute towards their further progress and the majority of other schools therefore remain impoverished, less popular and ultimately closure.

Sending children to a school closer in the proximity of residence was recommended by the National Education Commission (S.P.1 and 14 of 1962) introducing the zoning of schools to correct this situation. The commission envisaged the problem of not having schools " good enough " for parents to send their children and recommended, " When a school is not up to standard " at the time, the Ministry of Education " should take necessary steps to bring up the school to a suitable standard ". However, the popular developed schools continue to be favored, while rural schools that accommodate to the average parents are continually neglected. Parents are accustomed to think that popularity of the school alone could provide good education to their children. This is a symptom of a malaise affecting the educational system of today.

The research carried out by Mr, Ruwan Sanjeewa Patteyagoda on "Paasal waseyama ha daruwange anagathaya" in year 2005 has established that the reputation of the urban schools override the scarcity of resources of rural schools on the issue.

In addition, he has mentioned many reasons as route courses for the closure of rural schools Furthermore; the author has given practical solutions for the matter as well. However, the researcher feel that reputation of the urban schools go hand in hand with parental attitude Therefore, my study will develop as a further study to this research, to find out significant motive for the issue by using different approachs.

Mr CJ Amaratunga's article on '2004 Wasara sandaha Palamuweni Shreniyata Kisima Ayadumpatak neti Pasal 489' to the Sunday Lankadeepa paper on 18 January 2004 has revealed some facts, which prove the parents' demanding and strong satisfaction towards the urban national schools that ultimately lead to closure of rural schools.

As per the article, out of 9826 schools in the Island , there are 500 schools, which have not received even a single application for the grade one admission in the year 2004.Whereas, 2000 schools have received only ten applications each. This derives that beyond 500 schools are functioning without sufficient number of students for the grade one classes. This shows half of the number of schools in the Island has been no admission adequate for the schools.

However, many people keep on arguing about the competition regarding school admission; investigation into real state of affairs reveals that only about 2000 schools have the adequate number of students. Out of these schools, a heavy competition is only for admission to a small number of urban national schools, around 500. As per the statistics of school admission in Kurunagala district for year 2008, there are 18 schools, which had not received any application whereas 500 schools have received 10-15 applications. The details are attached as annex 'E'. 

There are many schools without a sufficient number of students to use the buildings and other facilities available. To the date, 500 schools have been closed down and hundreds of schools are in threshold of closing down.

This situation has created an environment for the remaining students to shift towards urban national schools with better facilities. Hence, scantiness of the number of students is a serious issue for rural schools with fewer facilities. At present the education system of rural areas are in critical condition due to closure of the rural schools. Rural society is in the verge of collapse. Therefore, the research has been conducted on the basis of finding out the key motives for the issue.