President urged to take clear stand on future of Grade 5 Scholarship Exam

Differing statements by Mahinda, Bandula and Keheliya - Niroshan


by Zacki Jabbar

With President Mahinda Rajapaksa having told the recent SLFP Central Committee meeting that the Grade Five scholarship Exam would not be abolished "for the moment", the Opposition yesterday called for a clear statement from the Head of State and Government on the future of children’s education.

UNP Western Provincial Councilor Niroshan Padduke said that contradictory statements had been made by Rajapaksa, Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella on the government’s policy pertaining to the continuation of the year five scholarship exam which gave less privileged students an opportunity to study at leading schools.

 "What does the President mean by telling the SLFP Central Committee that the grade five entrance examination won’t be abolished for the moment? He should be precise on a matter as important as the future of our youth", the Provincial Councilor noted adding that the Rajapaksa regime should act responsibly without resorting to its trademark habit of using several ministers to contradict each other on a particular issue and confuse the public.  

The Education Minister in direct contrast to the President’s statement had said that the scholarship test would be restructured for the time being and scrapped in 2016, he observed.

Padukke noted that the Media Minister meanwhile maintained that the exam will be continued since the subject had not come for discussion at Cabinet level.

 Parents are worried and also totally confused about their children’s future due to the varying positions taken by the President and his Ministers, he said.

 Minister Gunawardena explained that the decision to scrap the grade five scholarship exam from 2016 was based on the advice of educationalists, psychiatrists and religious leaders who had pointed out that it caused severe mental stress to students of that age. 

Experts appearing before a special Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Education had described the structure of the test as a burden on children. Their recommendations, he noted, had been submitted to the National Institute of Education.

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