Church tells govt not to restrict higher education to cover its incompetence


Most Rev Dr Valence Mendis

Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka has urged the government not to go ahead with the move to restrict the student intake for external degree programmes.

The JVP, the Joint Opposition and students have been agitating against the government proposal to curtail the external degree programme.

The Church has requested that tangible measures be taken to create more opportunities for those who wanted to follow external degrees.

Bishop of Chilaw Most Rev Dr Valence Mendis issued the following statement on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference: "A discussion is on in education circles regarding a move to limit the number of student intake for the external degree. Although this idea is put forward as a remedial measure to redistribute the external degrees among all universities so that every university could conduct external programmes, it is not at all practical, the main reason being that all universities don’t offer all the subjects. Moreover in a situation where all districts in Sri Lanka don’t have universities, a move to bring about any restriction in the intake of students is beyond comprehension. It will be a gross harassment to the students who aspire to do higher studies.

The freedom for education is something precious that the students in this country have enjoyed from the time of independence. Any move to restrict that freedom should be seen as a grave injustice towards the right for education which determines the quality of life of a person not withstanding the act that it decides also the future of a nation.

The lack of employment for graduates seems to be a motivating factor behind this imprudent move. It is the duty of the government to find job opportunities by using creative and innovative methods. It should be also kept in mind that many of those who follow external degrees already have some employment. Most of them follow weekend classes. The argument that there will be an increasing number of jobless graduates is therefore invalid. Finding a job is not the only objective in education. There are so many other ways by which an educated person could contribute in creating a just society and a harmonious world order. Education brings a sense of dignity and fulfillment to a person.

Moreover limiting the number of students who can do a degree is a huge injustice against the basic right of a person for knowledge. The rich have the opportunities to select the universities of their choice in any part of the world. By this proposed system to limit the external degrees the most affected will be the poor students in the country. The Advance Level will be the end of the road for so many poor but intelligent students.

There seems to be the notion behind this move that large numbers sitting for a degree will diminish the quality of the examinations. The number of students whether it is small or large does not determine the quality of an examination. It is the duty of the government to maintain the standards in conducting the examinations, in an organized manner. Limiting the intake is not at all a solution to the problem. If someone thinks that this will be a solution to uplift the quality of education, it should be definitely said that this remedy is certainly worse than the disease. The result will be the emergence of a generation of frustrated students who any have neither a job nor a degree.

What the government should do instead is to open up more possibilities to the youth in the country to follow the external degree programmes by introducing more subjects and broad base the choice of subjects. Tinkering with the policies of education which decide the future of a nation is indeed an imprudent exercise. There is enormous wisdom in the long standing traditions of education in Sri Lanka which should not be changed to satiate the whims and fancies of a few individuals."



animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...