Dec 26, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has criticized Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena's move to scrap the Grade 5 scholarship examination.
The party said that the Minister's decision was prompted by parents, intellectuals and professionals in education sector regarding the Grade 5 scholarship examination.
Minister Gunawardena held a media conference on the 19th to announce that Grade 5 scholarship examination would be abolished from 2016.
Issuing a statement, the JVP noted that the Minister has failed to understand that the criticism aimed by these parties were regarding the extreme competitiveness of the examination, the manner the examination is held and the failure of the government to ensure security of question papers.
"Their criticism was not regarding students getting opportunities to enter schools with more facilities or regarding scholarships for students of parents with low income," the JVP explained.
The JVP criticizing the government for the Minister's statement said the government has now created several issues to stop one problem.
"This is the usual idiotic process followed by the government in many sectors. However, the issue is foolishly presenting in media meetings decisions that would affect lives of millions of students," the party noted adding that the government's move to deprive students is regrettable.
The party suggested the government to seek the ideas of the intellectuals and scholars to properly design the scholarship scheme.
"What the government should do is not deny bright students who study in schools that do not have proper facilities but correcting the wrong designs of the scholarship scheme. They should seek views and advice of parents, intellectuals and scholars."
The Education Minister said that there would not be a necessity for a Grade 5 scholarship exam from 2016 since the Education Ministry's 1,000 secondary schools development programme would be completed by then and many schools will be equipped with best facilities, and therefore, there would not be a competition for parents to admit their children to schools with what they would call better facilities.
The Minister was responding to the charge brought by the Sri Lanka Teacher Services Union secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe that students who passed the highly competitive Grade 5 scholarship examination are being deprived of opportunity to enter certain popular schools due to lack of vacancies for Grade 6 at some popular schools.
Jayasinghe said the reason for the non-availability of space is that politicians admitting their children to these schools outside the proper procedure.
Grade 5 Scholarship Examination is criticized for its highly competitive nature but it is the only way available to most of the intelligent but less privileged students to enter leading schools in the country.
According to the JVP, a minister alone could not take decisions on examinations held at a national level and the people have a right to know which committee recommended the abolition of the Grade 5 scholarship examination.
The party has called on the government to also explain what alternative proposals it has to prevent any form of injustice to the students.
"Under these circumstances, we emphasize that a scientific solution recommended by a committee of scholars and intellectuals should be introduced and it should not deny the opportunity for bright students from poor families to enter schools with better facilities. We also demand the government to abolish this arbitrary decision that affects lives of millions of parents and their children," the JVP said.