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The urgency of getting children back to school at the first opportunity is accepted worldwide, but Covid-19 has also brought three other issues to the fore internationally – (1) Ethics of conducting competitive examinations when significant portions of the students have been left out of education (2) Wisdom of continuing same old education when a full return to normalcy is not in sight (3) The need for combining face-2-face and distance mode of teaching and learning as the new normal. Meanwhile here in Sri Lanka, our Ministry of Education goes about as if it is business as usual.  Dates for exams are scheduled, postponed, and rescheduled. There seems to be no intention of seeking alternatives to the “covering the syllabus to prepare children for exams” approach to education. While we appreciate the government’s initiatives in the health front to reopen schools, we cannot be happy about the pedagogical aspects.
September 04, 2021   HE the President, Gotabhaya Rajapakse Hon Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapakse, MP Hon Minister of Education, Mr. Dinesh Gunewardene, MP Hon Leader of the Opposition, Sajith Premadasa, MP   The urgent need to prepare for the opening of schools  This is in reference to the previous letter we wrote in July 2021 signed by several academics, educationists, and health sector personnel. (https://educationforum.lk/2021/07/press-release-6-a-letter-to-authorities-about-the-covid-education-crisis/). With a teacher strike or not, schools in Sri Lanka have been closed for over 18 months due to the ongoing pandemic.
Pfizer vaccine to schoolchildren after health authority approves Source: Dailynews  The Pfizer vaccine will be given to the schoolchildren of the relevant age groups as soon as the medical approval is received, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said. He made this observation at the meeting of the Special Committee on COVID-19 Control held through online technology under the chair of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa this morning (3). Read more: https://www.dailynews.lk/2021/09/03/local/258415/pfizer-vaccine-schoolchildren-after-health-authority-approves Education Debacle by Dr.
Teacher Crisis Q&A Press Release, August 18, 2021 (a) Is this salary issue truly a ‘crisis’ as portrayed by the teachers? Yes, because for about two decades, on average, all teachers have been paid a basic or starting salary of less than ~ Rs 35,000 per month. This is important because the education sector, on which future generations & socio-economic advancement of this country rests, depends almost exclusively on the contentment of 241,000 teachers. A fruitful teacher-student interaction is an answer to educational advancement at least in part. Due to this crisis students have been without any substantial education for the last several months.
ගුරු වැටුප් ප්‍රශ්නය: එදා, අද සහ ඉදිරිය |ஆசிரியர் சம்பள கேள்வி: பிறகு, இப்போது மற்றும் எதிர்காலம் | A policy dialogue on “ Teacher Salary Issues: Past, Present and the Future ” was held by the Education Forum Sri Lanka (EFSL) on Aug 14th, 2021, via Zoom. LINKS:Full Video: PD#18  (In Sinhala) PRESENTATIONS
Principal: Mr W. A. JanakaBelummahara Rahula Vidyalaya is a small school in Gampaha district in Sri Lanka. It has 375 students studying under a small group of academic, management and support staff. Currently classes are held from year 1 to 11 where 36 students are getting ready to face the GCE OL exam this year.
Teachers deserve respect and recognition  | ගුරුවරුන්ට හිමි ගෞරවය හා පිළිගැනීම වහාම ලබා දෙන්න Press Release, July 22, 2021 (Please scroll down for Sinhala and Tamil versions | සිංහල හා දෙමළ නිවේදන සඳහා පහලට යන්න) We are dismayed to see that the teachers and principals had to launch a strike at this difficult time, but their grievances are understandable. Whilst we endorse their claim for higher wages, what we we wish to highlight here is the lack of trust and respect shown towards our teachers by authorities. The latest is a news item which said that the Ministry has established a program which calls on teachers and principals to issue weekly reports after evaluating students and appoints education instructors to supervise teacher performance on a regular basis. This kind of scrutiny on teachers is totally unnecessary and unacceptable. Teachers have been reaching out to students on their own since March 2020 without being recognized, rewarded or guided by the authorities.
A policy dialogue on “What should be our policy on English Education”  was held by the Education Forum Sri Lanka (EFSL) on July 10th, 2021, via Zoom. LINKS:Full Video: PD#17, 2 hours  6 minutes (In Sinhala) PRESENTATIONS 5:00 – 5:10 Welcome and Introduction (Dr. Sujata Gamage, Co-founder, Education Forum Sri Lanka) 5:10 – 6:10 Panel Discussion moderated by Dr. Sujata Gamage Dr. Darshana Samaraweera, Deputy Director-General, National Institute of Education Dr.
Naming dates for exams is not enough; Ministry should have a plan to get students ready.Media Release, July 12, 2021 (In English/Sinhala/Tamil) The government announced a few days ago that the Grade 5 scholarship examination will be held on October 03 and the GCE Advanced Level examination from October 04 to October 31. Then we hear that the decision would be reversed. Unfortunately, except for these kinds of last-minute announcements which are then withdrawn, we have yet to hear a consistent policy on examinations and assessments or the education process during a pandemic from our Ministry of Education. Institutions including the World Health Organization (WHO) have long maintained that the epidemic will persist well into 2022 if not after.
July 1, 2021 HE the President, Gotabhaya Rajapakse Hon Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapakse MP] Hon Minister of Education, Prof GL Peiris  MP Hon Leader of the Opposition, Sajith Premadasa  MP Members of the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Education Covid Education Crisis We write to draw your attention to the serious situation faced by the 4.3 million student population in this country since March 2020 when the pandemic first appeared. There has not been any education for them  in the last 15 months except for a few weeks when schools opened briefly, and a façade of online education received by a few at other times. We have listed below some of the grave consequences of long-term school closures: Due to an undue reliance on online education, more than half the children are left out of contact with their schools. Left without guidance, teachers have adopted social media such as WhatsApp to send out notes and assignments connecting with whoever they could, even though the Census Department reported in 2019 that only 29% of the population accessed the Internet.