If you’ve seen this meme, you might’ve agreed with it: learning how to file taxes is important (and carries penalties for doing it wrong) whereas most adults don’t use parallelograms.

But let’s dig deeper… “how to do taxes” could mean two things:

Let’s take the first one — schools could (and some do) give exercises on filing taxes and cover the typical mistakes people make. But taxes (even if it’s just personal income tax) change from jurisdiction…

[සිංහල පරිවර්තනය සඳහා අවසානයේ ඇති වීඩියෝව නරඹන්න]

On the 30th of January, responding to a question by an aspiring English teacher still unemployed more than a year after completing the Higher National Diploma in English and passing the English Teaching examination, the President asserted that “හොඳටම කතා කරන්න පුළුවන්, ඒක ගැන දැනුමක් තියෙන අය තමයි ඉංග්‍රීසි උගන්වනවා නං එවන්න ඕනෙ” (“only those with a good mastery of English should be appointed as teachers”). (See 1:18–2:30 in this video)

At face value, this makes sense. The Kannangara report of 1943 not only acknowledged this, it went even further:

“The teacher must…

Do we need art? Why?

Of course, unless we are Philistines, we enjoy “consuming” works of art — listening to songs, watching plays and movies, admiring a painting or sculpture, reading novels, reciting poetry, etc — but is that the only reason we need art? And is having it appreciated by others the only purpose of creating art?

We are particularly interested in what “Art Education” means to children, so we explored this using a poll with this image on the Schools 4.0 and Parenting with Metta channels:

While only a small sample responded, the answer was overwhelmingly in favour…

Much of the contemporary narrative of how #covid19 is changing, and will change, higher education is focused on how teaching and assessment will move from physical spaces to virtual spaces.

But it’s not as simple as that — for example, students in fee-levying universities have been asking “why are we paying so much just to attend virtual classes?”. And while some universities responded by adjusting their fees, others have argued against it, saying

Rather than a “distraction” from education, the Report of the Special committee on education (Ceylon), published in 1943, considered Free Play to be essential for education:

This is how they identified the role of the parents:

“The good parent is he and especially the good mother is she who, without interfering with the child’s private play, helps him with advice and assistance and provides him with the tools of learning. …

This is a draft which currently has only a few anecdotes

Lawanya’s story

Lawanya was struggling in school (and needed a lot of help from her friends) because of epileptic fits; after treatment her performance improves — but now the friends’ parents don’t want the friends to help her and the mother has to go to school (with special permission from the authorities) to help her child:

මෙයා මෙච්චර කල් හිටියේ විශේෂ අවශ්‍යතා ඇති දරුවන් කොටසේ ලු. ඉතින් වෙන දරුවෙක්ගේ පොතක් බලාගෙන ලු ලියන්නේ ටීච කියන ඒවා. නමුත් දැන් ලාවන්‍යා හොඳින් ලකුණු ගන්න නිසා අර දරුවන්ගේ දෙමාපියන්ට රිදිලා. …

As creating a more equitable world is a key component of our purpose for education, we were never fully comfortable with launching as a private school — price barriers in education exclude people.

On the other hand, it’s inconceivable that our public education system will pivot to offer Self Directed Education anytime soon — it hasn’t made it to national policy even in countries that have homed such schools for decades. …

Possibly the most prominent slogan employed in the defence of free education in Sri Lanka (and perhaps also elsewhere) is that “Education is a Right, not a Commodity”.

Image Credit: The Daily Mirror

While this attempts to addresses one (provision to everyone, not just the privileged) of the two most pressing issues in Education today, it contributes to aggravating the other. And, ironically, it hints at what the other issue is…

A curious choice of words

First, why are Rights and Commodities considered mutually exclusive? When the USA’s 2nd Amendment gave citizens the Right to bear arms, it did not create an expectation that those arms would not be a…

Globally, education represents a significant investment — not only in terms of the direct (whether public by taxes or private by fees) and indirect (lodging, transport, uniforms, stationery, etc) expenses, but also in terms of opportunity costs (e.g. delaying the start of income-generating activities) and unintended consequences (physical and mental trauma due to punishments, exam pressure, bullying/ragging, etc.)

What is the outcome for which we, collectively as societies and individually as students/parents, are investing so much?

When we were schooling (in the 80ies and early 90ies) we were told “හොඳට ඉගෙනගෙන හොඳ රස්සාවක් කරන්න” (study well and get a good…

Written by Eric J. de Silva (former Secretary, Ministry of Education) and published in The Island on December 14, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 20 2010, collated here because the original lacks hyperlinks.

C.W.W. Kannangara rode the educational scene of the two decades that preceded our gaining Independence from British rule like a colossus, and the education reforms that were introduced during this period or immediately thereafter are commonly attributed to him whether he was personally responsible for the changes proposed or whether he was instrumental in delivering the changes proposed by bodies such as the Special Committee on Education with which he was associated, irrespective of whether he was in total agreement with the proposed changes or not.

This essay is an attempt to disaggregate these reforms and re-evaluate the contribution Kannangara…

Schools 4.0 Lanka

Learning communities for whole-person education towards a more compassionate world

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