Friday, November 28, 2008

BRIBERY: Lesson for education sector

The stunning disclosure that between 70 per cent and 90 per cent of all teachers in the country are not properly qualified should awaken the authorities to take drastic action.

The Central Province is the worst affected with as much as 90 per cent of the teachers not competent to hold their posts. In the Western Province which has all the facilities this figure is 67 per cent.

The phenomenon has been attributed to political influence in the appointment of teachers. If this is indeed the case an unpardonable crime has been committed by those who should know better against the country’s younger generation, virtually playing with their future.

In today’s context no greater premium could be attached towards education on which rests the future of our youth as well as the country’s destiny. That politicians have thought it fit to tamper even with such a vital aspect shows the depths to which politics has made inroads into all facets of life.

Even such a sacrosanct area such as education has not gone unscathed by the overarching genie of politics. No wonder today private tutories are having a boom time with more and more parents opting to send their offspring to these sweat shops due to poor results in school exams.

Talking of poor results wasn’t it this year that we had the worse results at the GCE (O/L’s) with the even leading city schools coming a cropper. Could this latest discovery be the reason ? The Ministry of Education should lose no time in tackling the issue head on to smoke out all the all the imposters if the country’s education system is to be saved from collapse.

Only suitable and qualified personnel should be given appointments. Schools should not be turned into seats of employment for political hangers on. Immediate instructions should be issued to all politicians to leave out schools from the equation. There is no knowing the extent of the damage already inflicted.

What plans are the Ministry going to put in motion to redress the situation ? How is it going to recruit competent and qualified teachers and what criteria will be adopted? Are we going to see another calamitous results sheet this time around too at the school exams ?

This is a matter that should engage the attention of all. This state of affairs is bound to see the next generation of school products coming out as misfits unequal to the challenges in the new employment markets and ending up as liabilities to the State. A complete review should be undertaken of teacher recruitment schemes and only the competent granted postings. Certainly the latest bombshell reflects the fate of the school system as a whole.

Today the education sector have assumed the dubious reputation of being number one on the scale of bribery and corruption. Many principals of even the well known schools have been caught in the bribery net. This is because the school system too has been caught up in the hurly burly life of commercialisation and is no different to business enterprises.

A sad departure from the past when schools were considered the fountains of discipline and principals and teachers revered and respected. That was a time when the title “Iskoley Mahattaya” carried much weight and dignity. Alas progress and development instead of bringing enlightenment has only succeeded in the decline in standards in the education sector even with teachers resorting to Trade Union action to win demands.

The Ministry of education should restore schools and the education sector to their once pristine position for the sake of the future generation. Teachers should not be allowed to gamble with the future of students through such actions as strikes, absconding from paper marking and supervising examinations etc.

As a popular teacher recruitment campaign in the UK put it, ‘Those who can, teach’.

That shows that not everyone can become a teacher. It is a specialised vocation which needs qualified personnel to guide the students in the proper direction so that they could become good citizens. That, even more than book subjects, is important in the whole exercise of education and the authorities must make sure that only those with qualifications and enthusiasm become teachers.

Lesson for education sector
Ceylon Daily News, Sri Lanka