The Education Ministry has made the Grade Five
Scholarship examination compulsory with immediate effect,
Examinations Commissioner General Anura Edirisinghe told The
Island yesterday. However, the government’s decision has run
into stiff opposition from teacher unions that want that
"This exam has placed much pressure and burden
on children and parents. That leads us nowhere," General
Secretary of the Ceylon Teacher Service Union said. "This should
be scrapped from the education system step by step. The demand
for popular schools must be coped with by upgrading all other
schools," he said.
Marks obtained at the examination, so far
considered only an indicator of aptitude as regards admission to
popular schools, would be used to determine a child’s aptitude
at the national level, he said. All students who scored above 75
out of 200 would be awarded a special certificate.
Applications for this year’s examination,
scheduled to be held in August, have already been posted to
Since the exam has been made mandatory, students
in Grade Five classes in popular schools, too, will have to sit
it from this year.
The exam was made compulsory with a view to
strengthening primary education, Examinations Commissioner
Veteran Educationist Dr. Tilokasundari
Kariyawasam said she appreciated the move as it would enable
rural students to enter better schools. The existing system of
examining the students would not serve the purpose since their
performance indicated poor standards.
The question papers, she said, should to have
‘reliability and validity’. "We do not see the current papers
having them. Thus, they are not suitable to measure the
intelligence of students. This problem could be seen in
examinations conducted for recruitment to civil service as
well," she said.
Last year, more than 46,000 or 16.29 per cent of
the students who sat the Grade five scholarship exam, failed to
obtain even 50 marks out of the total of 200, according to the
Examinations Department statistics.
According to the statistics and analysis report,
of them, 7,264 obtained less than 20 marks. Only 11.95 per cent
of the 283,737 students who sat the examination were able to
score more than the cut off mark of 150 for Sinhala medium
students and 143 for Tamil medium students. Nearly 250,000
students failed the examination.