This series is based on business leader Dhammika Perera’s recently revealed ‘Economic Growth Strategy and Action Plan to increase GDP Per Capita from $ 4,000 to $ 12,000’. The document outlines goals and action plans for 23 ministries and today’s column focuses on the Ministry of Education
“Education is a major contributor to develop human capital, increase GDP per capita and effectively face global challenges”
- lIncrease the current number of students doing A/L from 218,191 to 300,000 and ensure majority of A/L students do STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects.
- lEnsure 360,000 students per annum sit for O/Ls.
- lDevelop 771 schools under provincial councils to match the standards of national schools with fully fledged facilities.
- lIncrease student capacity to 1,500 students of existing schools which have adequate land.
1. Allocate an additional budget of Rs. 200 billion with a 10% annual increment for primary, university and technical and vocational education.
2. Introduce five new types of biscuits for the five days of the week which can be obtained free of charge by producing the coupon provided under the precision poverty reduction programme for school children who cannot afford breakfast. These new types of biscuits also to be made available for purchase through markets. Also, continue the provision of free text books, and further provide, school uniforms, socks and shoes from preschool to secondary school level, through the precision poverty reduction programme.
3. Fund private sector to build, standardise and upgrade preschools.
4. Facilitate video-based and other necessary teacher training for pre-schools.
5. Develop 771 schools under provincial councils with fully-fledged facilities to match the standards of national schools.
- 2 schools each from the 276 divisional councils (552 schools).
- 3 schools each from the 41 urban councils (123 schools).
- 4 schools each from 24 municipal councils (96 schools).
- Same national level popular school names and management to be followed at these 771 schools.
To increase student capacity by 1,500, schools with adequate land will be selected. In all 771 schools, student capacity will increase to an average of 1,500 students resulting in a total increase to 1,156,500 students.
Following which, competition for Grade 1 student entrance will be reduced from current 80,000 students to 0 students.
6. Ensure availability of branches of two popular schools in each district. In total, 50 schools will be built, each with a capacity of 6,000 students, increasing total capacity by 300,000 students.
7. Encourage establishment of international schools through 0% corporate tax and 0% VAT incentives to encourage professionals to serve outstation.
At present English-speaking professionals are reluctant to work outstation due to the lack of English medium schools for their children.
Encourage establishment of private universities, excluding medical colleges, through 0% corporate tax and 0% VAT incentives to achieve the goal of 50% university degree holders from total students per annum (Sri Lanka at present has 360,000 students per annum).
8. Introduce an online portal excluding data charges, which contains instructional videos for all school subjects.
9. Utilise video tutorials to teach students on life and social interaction skills.
10. Introduce career counselling for A/L students.
11. Decrease school dropouts from 30,000 to 0 through precision poverty reduction and implementation of required social development initiatives.
12. Identify schools that require immediate refurbishment from the 10,194 Government schools across the Island.
13. Identify and closely monitor schools with a low number of students and teachers. Currently, there are:
a. 1,486 schools with less than 50 students
b. 1,560 schools with 50-100 students
c. 3,133 schools with fewer than 9 teachers
14. Ensure all schools have access to clean water and toilet facilities.
15. Introduce 0% VAT and 0% corporate tax on private education. This tax benefit scheme will be guaranteed for the next 25 years to build private schools and private international schools.
16. Open branches of popular schools in the 6 main corridors to Colombo – Galle, Piliyandala, Homagama, Kaduwela, Nittambuwa and Negombo. This would reduce road traffic and raise standards of schools outside Colombo.
17. Double dose of Mathematics from Grade 6 for underperforming students by replacing time allocated for another subject.
18. From Grade 6 onwards, introduce the option of learning Science in English.
19. Encourage Grade 10 and 11 students to choose commerce subjects for personal financial management.
20. Recognise English as the “link language” of Sri Lanka.
E.g. Provide Sinhalese students studying Tamil language the option of studying English language during that period. Likewise, provide Tamil students studying Sinhala language the option of studying English language during that period.
21. Ensure availability of teacher training and learning videos for students for all subjects taught from Grade 1 to 13.
22. Encourage the selection of Science, Mathematics, Commerce, Biology and Engineering streams for A/L to match job market trends.
23. Increase student enrolment in Grade 12 and 13 from 210,000 to 300,000, while increasing capacity at schools with Science and Technology labs.
24. Create a portal to monitor the quality of the district level school education system.
a.The portal includes general school statistics (no. of schools, no. of teachers, and no. of students, both urban and rural) and a performance dashboard (dropout rate, schools with functional toilets, schools with drinking water, etc.).
25. Form a committee to ensure quality of education across Government, private, international and other schools and pre-schools.
26. Integrate ICT into education, increase the number of computers and ensure Internet connectivity in schools.
27. Ensure availability of ICT-related teaching materials through the online portal.
28. Share instructional videos among teachers on methods of teaching ICT.
29. Utilise video conferencing to conduct simultaneous live classes for rural schools which suffer from a shortage of teachers.
30. Develop an online application system for teachers featuring their qualifications and schools with job vacancies.
31. Launch a teacher training certification programme.
32. Update student vacancies from Grade 6 to Grade 13 in every school on an online portal.
33. Create a website with athletic records from district, national, regional, and international level and update with the current status of each district’s student athletes.
34. Establish an online academy with training videos, for students to train for sports and improve their performance to reach international levels.
35. Develop existing school cricket grounds.
36. Make supplementary Math classes compulsory after O/L, either in school or via online learning.
37. Allow students who have passed six subjects but failed Math in their O/L, to continue with their A/L studies while attending additional Math classes to re-sit the O/L Math exam.
a. Based on the pass rate for their O/L Math, students can attempt the final A/L exam.
38. Use school level data, attendance, performance and behaviour, to predict dropout risk.
39. Allocate a period in the school timetable for student engagement programmes such as weekly arts and crafts programmes, sports, reading and storytelling to increase student enjoyment at school.
40. Provide after-school tutoring programmes in key subject areas to students at risk of dropping out.
41. Allocate funds for students at risk of dropping out, in the form of bursaries and scholarships.
42. Upgrade school library facilities.
43. Introduce virtual libraries with free access.
44. Introduce project-based STREAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in primary and secondary schools.
Students to learn in teams and Math, Science, Reading and Engineering are integrated into each lesson.
45. Implement mandatory health lessons where students, especially young girls, are taught about menstruation and proper menstrual hygiene.
46. Ensure availability of emergency sanitary products and proper toilet facilities with sanitary napkin disposal systems.
47. Promote education of students, teachers and parents about menstruation hygiene to reduce the stigma around menstruation.
48. Ensure all teachers have adequate first-aid training and include first-aid training in the school curriculum.
49. Prioritise establishment and upgrading of girls’ schools. In addition, provide bursaries for girls to encourage education.
50. Introduce mandatory environmental education on being eco-friendly, reducing waste and recycling as part of the Geography and Science syllabi.
51. Allow children of Sri Lankan families who are living abroad to attend local schools and sit for local exams when they come to Sri Lanka.
52. Introduce curriculum resources for early learning, primary and secondary students to promote reconciliation and strengthen knowledge and understanding of history and culture.
53. Provide science laboratories for schools that teach up to O/L.
54. Increase science stream schools by 1,000 from 1,029 to 2,029 schools.
55. Take part in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to evaluate the current standard of the education system.
56. Provide duty-free permits to owners of old school buses and vans that are over 15 years old.
57. Provide 2,000 mini-school buses to villages where children walk over 2 km to access the main road to reach their school.
58. Reduce local O/L exam results waiting time to 2 months. Introduce pre-A/L classes for all students awaiting their O/L results. Current waiting time to obtain results in Sri Lanka is 4 months. An additional 2 months is spent at home until A/L schooling starts. Students are idling for 6 months in total.
59. Reduce A/L exam results waiting time to 2 months. Current waiting time in Sri Lanka is 4 months.
60. Reduce university entrance waiting time after A/L to 6 months. Current waiting time in Sri Lanka is 17 months, including 4 months waiting for results.