Teacher Unions oppose move tooth and nail
Year 5 Scholarship exam made mandatory; teachers up in arms
by Dasun Edirisinghe

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 examination scrapped.

"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 school principals.

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 General said.

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.



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