Oral History of Education

A conversation with a prominent novelist in Sri Lanka.


People to look up that are prominent and have done credible work to change the Sri Lankan education system:

Kusuma Gunawardana

Celina Perera

Kumari Jayawardena

Sunila Abeysekara

Lakshman Jayathilake


Teacher training was done by National Institute of Education. They used to have qualified people (from the education sector), but over time politicians took over with no understanding of what the education industry was lacking.

In the 1960s, training was done at Training College Practice School. However, the system was not working, and they shifted the system to go into public schools to teach. Psychology was part of teacher training, but it is no longer there in the training. Ranil Wickramasinghe and J. R. Jayawardena as Education Ministers sent a bunch of teachers to the villages to teach English. Then English medium was available to students all around the country. From here onwards, politics were heavily involved with education decisions. Experts cannot function in their jobs as everything was now done in political favour. There were about 52 missions in Sri Lanka, and 45 were with political influence.



After colonisation:

Piriven education - Sinhala

Missionary's education - British - Jaffna received a privileged education taught in English.

British wanted to break the two races, making the minorities greater.

Elite education was given to schools such as Royal College, St Thomas', St. Bridget's etc.

Jobs were given to people who spoke English.


1948 - Top administrative services were given to Tamil people, and server work was the Sinhala people.


Sirimavo Bandaranaika introduced the District Ranking to bring fair play to university entrance. This is when Sinhala people had equality. During entrance exams, Tamil papers were checked by Tamil people. They never cut marks, and tried to give as much as they can. The Sinhala people tried to reduce marks as much as possible. However, if 10% were Tamils, they 70% of them had top jobs.


This was also a cause for the Civil War.




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