Grade 1 admissions latest: Ananda OBA fires the first shot against new scheme

Posted on August 21, 2007  /  15 Comments

The Old Boys’ Association (OBA) of the Ananda College filed a Fundamental Rights application in the Supreme Court seeking to quash the new Year One admission circular issued by Ministry of Education.The petitioner, the Secretary of the Ananda College OBA, Jayasiri Ittepana also sought interim relief to suspend the new circular until the final determination of his rights plea.

The petitioner also sought to initiate Contempt of Court proceedings against respondent Secretary to the Ministry of Education on the basis that he had failed to follow the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.

The petitioner stated that the Supreme Court had in determining number of rights applications quashed the previous circular and directed the Secretary to the President to prepare a new formulae based on the guidelines issued by the court. The new formulae was later amended as a result of the resistance in Parliament.

The petitioner stated that the new circular dated (August 17) is unfair by the children of the membership of the OBA.

The petitioner sought among the other things to amend the circular awarding points based on quantum of contributions made by parents to the development of the school.

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  1. I am glad that Ananda old boys took this bold move. According to the new circular, the old boys/girls stand no where. Those who live within the same divisional secretariat get 40 marks while an old boy/girl living outside the city limits can hope of getting only 18 marks. So none of the old boys/girls will ever be able to put his/her child to a college. This is gross unfair because most of these schools are run by the money contributed by the old boy/girl associations while the government only pays the teachers’ salaries.

    The new scheme is only good for politicians to manipulate and put their kids into all good schools in Colombo.

  2. This is a very good step. The education ministry has put its foot in it again. Without money from the old girls and the old boys, none of the big government schools will be able to function. Reducing the points available for past pupils will only result in the already deteriorating standards of education falling further. Especially with regard to extracurricular education all the big schools are sponsored by their old girls and old boys. This is typical government bureaucracy trying to do something politically popular and at the same time shooting everyone in the foot. I just hope the supreme court actually does take the ministry to task on contempt of court!

  3. This is only half of the story. Old boy associations are so powerful in some of the schools that they act like mini-mafias.

    I was an old boy of one of the prominent schools in Colombo. I attended the school functions regularly, but I saw no reason why I should be a dominating committee member of the old boys association. (My time did not permit) Only when I tried to admit my son to the school I found how powerful the old boy mafia was. They never wanted to consider the good work I did to school as a student and afterwards.

    I could admit my son after a long process in the end and decided not to support any activities of old boy mafias in future.

  4. All I can see is the old boys in above photograph have big bellies. They are fat cats wants to put their children to super schools to make them too fat cats.

  5. Why is the obvious answer being ignored?

    State that no special advantage will accrue to students in the primary section of any of these “popular schools”? All admissions to Year 6 will be on the basis of the scholarship exam. Something close to this used to be the case for Royal Primary and Royal College until the 1960s. This will deflate the enthusiasm of the litigants pretty fast. What they want is for their children to be able to bypass the scholarship process; when the backdoor is closed, they’ll have to focus on something more productive.

    This way the government can buy time to fix the 6-13 school admission process. Best would be to take the oldies at their word and give them the schools to run. For giving them the land and buildings free, government can ask for a certain number of places to be reserved for scholarship students. Then they can really support the schools.

    For more on this, please see a discussion paper/column I wrote in 2004-05:

  6. What is the stance on Religious ratio aspect? I have read in articles that their is no such guidelines in the new circular aboout this issue and that effectively a child from any religion can go in to any school. I believe such a situtaion would destroy the identities of many schools.

  7. I’m a Sri Lankan who was born and bred in the UK. I want to ask: why do so many people seem to be against this move?

    In my view, the problem with education in Sri Lanka is that the best resources and teachers are concentrated in a handful of big Colombo schools.

    Shouldn’t we be working to make all schools equal, so that all Sri Lankans can get the same standard of education? At present, poor families have to pay bribes to get their kids educated at one of the big schools. Doesn’t anyone think this is so wrong?

    If we want a better Sri Lanka, education is the key. And maintaining only ten big schools as the cornerstones of education is not going to do this. It is clear that this move by the government is to dilute the power of the big schools and their old-boy mafias. This is commendable, although quite obviously the old boys are up in arms about it.

    Education is a right, not a privilege. Before you think of your old-boy mafia and how you can get your kids into your alma mater, think of the country. We should all strive to make each and every school in this country equal. Only then will bright young Sri Lankans emerge who can can take this country out of the quagmire she finds herself in.

    Shame on you old-boys and old-girls. You think of nothing but yourselves and are indeed traitors to the country!

  8. Sri Lankan born and bred in UK:

    It is all very good to say all schools should be made equal.

    How does one do that? Has that happened in the UK? How much money will be required even to get close/even to the UK levels? Is that money available in a this country when we have a government that spend most of its revenue on debt servicing and paying government officials?

    The Oldies’ are not addressing these question; the multiple versions of government circulars do not address it? In my column, I try.

    Calling people traitors will not advance the discussion. The oldies have invested a lot in consolidating their positions so they can get their children to their schools. Their reaction is natural. Not that they should win.

  9. The whole issue is easily explained using Economics theory.

    Remember the four types of goods:

    1) Public Goods: non-rivalrous and non-excludable
    2) Private Goods: rivalrous and excludable
    3) Common Resources: rivalrous but non-excludable
    4) Natural Monopolies: non-rivalrous and excludable

    Where does primary education fits in?

    Everybody thinks it is (and likes it to be) a public good, but in reality it is a common resource. It is rivalrous; consumption of the good by one individual reduces the amount of the good available for consumption by others.

    So what to do? Convert part to a public good and part to a private good.

    Let the state offer the primary education free of charge of a school of state’s (not parents’) choice.

    If anybody wants a better deal (like getting their offspring to a popular school avoiding Grade 5 scholarship exam) let them pay for it. Make the primary sections of all popular schools fee-levying.

    That will be fair by all.

  10. Okay, Nirmal is getting to the point.

    I would frame the 6-13 admission this way: the oldies get to run the school and pay the teachers’ salaries, etc.; the only condition is that they must admit a certain number of scholarship students in return for the fact that they get to use the land, buildings, etc. for free. Royal College being on very high-value land with many resources has to allocate a larger number of spaces for scholarship students than Dudley Senanayake MV in Tolangamuva, for example. They can even give their own children scholarships, or backdoor entry, or whatever. No problem. But whatever they do, they have to pay the bills.

    All the money that now spent on educating children 1-13, irrespective of wealth, will be focused on grades 1-5 and on the scholarship students. Isn’t that what is realistic? And will not this focusing actually yield better educational outcomes?

  11. Since early 60 we have free education. The population expanded but the schools were not developed to accormodate the growth. All the children should have free education upto Grade 9 or O/L. But a certain costs should be added as fees. Technically these children pays a large amount of fees for tuition classes. If they can pay these private classes why cant they pay the same fees to the school!!! out of the 230,000 students who sit for A/L only 15,000 can enter the university what are we going to do for the balance 215,000!!!. IF they can afford why cant they study in a private university different subjects. Design , Creative Graphics, Carpentry, Construction, etc etc

    Donald Gaminitillake

  12. Yes, Mr. Samarajiva, I 100% agree with you in principle.

    But see the tragedy. You and I can come up with so many solutions but will the govt. ever accept any of them? I do not think.

    One, this is a sensitive issue to the lower middle class that is not only the largest vote block but also the key determinant of the MARGINAL vote in any election. So no government will want to make drastic changes in the system and want to lose their populist stance.

    Two, even it can afford losing a considerable number of votes; the government will not do it because both the politicians and bureaucrats can corrupt this system easily to get their own offspring to good colleges free of charge. If they change the system they have to pay tuition fees.

    So I do not foresee any positive changes in near future.

  13. Mr. Gaminitilake,

    You raise a valid point. If students (actually parents) spend so much as tuition fees without complaining, why they always object to private investments in education?

    As I understand it, people in our country see education largely as a ‘worm hole’ to enter the higher class. (poor wants to get into middle class and middle class wants to be rich) They mentally depend so much on this ‘worm hole’ they fear even a minor modification that creates the risk of closing it.

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