Grade V Scholarship exam taxes children’s mental health – study


by Dasun Edirisinghe

A study conducted by a doctor for his MD research has revealed that Grade five scholarship examination adversely affects children’s mental health.

Dr. Dimuth Priyankara Peiris of the Medical Faculty of Kothalawela Defence University told The Island that 557 children who had participated in his research were categorised as ‘children likely to develop unsatisfactory mental health status’ and ‘children unlikely to develop unsatisfactory mental health status’.

Out of all children who participated, 24.8% fell into the likely category according to the student response and the percentages according to the parents and teachers were 29.1% and 33.9% respectively, Dr. Peiris said adding that when all the responses of students, teachers and the parents were taken together, overall percentage of "children likely to develop unsatisfactory mental health status" reached 48.1.

Dr. Peiris has been reading for his masters’ degree in the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Kapila Jayaratne, Consultant community physician at Family Health Bureau.

Dr. Peiris said that Grade Five scholarship examination had reached a level where it decided the future of a child, causing severe stress to the candidates.

Dr. Peiris said he had used a questionnaire prepared with the help of several consultant psychiatrists based on an international model to assess the mental health status of children.

"It comprises three sections for students, parents and teachers," he said adding that previous researches carried out in Sri Lanka, had used only the student response questionnaire.

The children, both boys and girls, who were likely to develop unsatisfactory mental health status scored low marks, he said.

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