Abolishing Grade 5 scholarship exam, death blow to free education – Kodituwakku


by Zacki Jabbar

The UNP yesterday charged that the government was trying to destroy free education, which was introduced way back in 1940, by abolishing the Grade five scholarship exam.

Karunasena Kodituwakku, the UNP’s organiser for Kolonnawa, told the media in Colombo, that it was in 1940 that a committee of leading politicians and educationists headed by the late C.W.W. Kananangara had, after deliberating for an year formulated the four pillars of education, which were subsequently approved by Parliament.

The four pillars, he noted were free education, developing Central Colleges, English medium to be introduced from Grade six and the year five scholarship exam.

The Grade Five Scholarship Exam introduced by the Kannangara Committee, after an year of research and discussion, had been abolished by the Rajapaksa regime in a day, resulting in poor children being denied an opportunity of entering leading schools. With the Central Colleges long neglected, rural students were left with very few choices, Kodituwakku lamented.

He recalled that it was the SLFP that had got rid of the English Medium from public schools. However, it was reintroduced by the UNP when it came to power in 2001. It ,was due to such foresight, Kodituwakku observed that there were at least a small number of teachers who were able to teach correct English and not "Singlish", as was widely happening.

The current educational policies being implemented were indicative of the SLFP’s intention to gradually abolish free education. Everything, including the wrongs it committed were said to be done in the name of patriotism. The late Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was a great patriot, but he continued with the English medium in their schools, he said adding that it was due to such vision that a large number of Indians were doing exceptionally well in many parts of the world.

The government had falsely claimed that since 1.8 million of the 5 million families in Sri Lanka were dependent on Samurdhi, poverty had been reduced. When one third of the households were still dependent on welfare benefits, how could anyone claim that poverty had been reduced, Kodituwakku queried.

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