By Saman Indrajith
Director General of the National Education Institute Dr Sunil Jayantha Navaratne said that the education sector would be reformed to include an element promoting moral education to provide students with guidance on morality and values, improve their social understanding and capacity for social mobility, and thus ensure their development as responsible citizens.
Addressing the media at the Cinnamon Grands in Colombo on Friday to unveil reforms to be introduced with the help of educationists from Finland, Dr Navaratne said that there was an increasing moral decay and the education system. “Today, there is no respect for values.
“Sri Lankan youth are trying to leave this land for good because they have no feeling about their motherland. These examples indicate that there is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed. We are changing the country’s education system to create a good citizen who loves his motherland whether he is a Sinhala, Tamil or a Muslim. The product of the education process could be a good doctor or an engineer but if he or she has no moral values as a good citizen, then there is a problem1,” Dr Navaratne said.
State Minister for Educational Reforms, Open Universities and Distance Learning Promotion Susil Premajayantha said that Sri Lanka was a nation with a proud history. “We need an education system that could cater to the needs of the 21st century. We have been able to produce persons with knowledge but without skills. Finland is considered the country with the best education system. Schools there are run by local government authorities. I do not think that can happen here. We have local government bodies which cannot even manage the garbage problem. How could one expect our local government bodies to reach the level of being able to run schools? In Finland, a teacher is trained for five years. We must adopt such systems. We have commenced that process by upgrading the Colleges of Education to the university level,” the Minister said.
Leader of the Finnish team of experts, Leena Krokfors, professor of teacher education at Helsinki University, said that it all depends on teacher education. Educating and empowering teachers with knowledge and skills would help change an education system. If teachers are given a high-level training it would serve as the basis for giving teachers a great deal of autonomy to choose what methods they use in the classrooms. It is teachers and principals who lead a country’s education if we can give them the correct directions that can direct the country’s future in the right way, she said.
Secretary to the Ministry of Education Prof Kapila CK Perera and Secretary to the State Ministry of Educational Reforms, Open Universities and Distance Learning Promotion Dr Upali Sedera also addressed the conference.