May 22, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says a new school system not based on religion or language will be established within the next two years to create mixed schools with children of all races and religions.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe made these remarks at a ceremony held at the Temple Tress today (22) to award diplomas to students who completed the national teaching diploma program of the National Colleges of Education.
Speaking further, the Prime Minister said this year the country observed the participation of people of all religions and races in celebrating Vesak Poya together and this situation can be preserved only if the school system is restructured.
"Today, we need to decide whether we will move schools based on ethnicity and religion as Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Catholic schools or whether they will continue as common public schools. In some cases, based on the population in a particular region, schools can be limited to one religion or one race. But we must pay attention to establish mixed schools with children of all races and religions," he said.
The Premier said accordingly, they have already decided to take all religious schools except Sunday Dhamma schools under the Ministry of Education.
Also, with the consent of the Muslim MPs and Ministers, it has been decided to establish a council for the control of Madrasas and subject those activities under the Ministry of Education.
"It is acceptable to name a school for a religious leader or a scholar. However, there is a question as to whether to name schools according to religion and race. Such schools should be considered as public schools and should be given a period of one or two years to convert to common schools."
"Late Prime Minister D S. Senanayake with a vision to the future created an education system. Although we distance ourselves from that system, Singapore is implementing it. So,, we have taken steps to send a team of education officials to Singapore to look into this methodology," he added.
The Premier further said that various suggestions and ideas have been presented regarding the new education system in the country. "Our aim is to discuss all the ideas and build an education system based on the Sri Lankan identity."
Addressing the event, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that school teachers will be trained with cutting edge knowledge to improve the country's education system. He added that only a limited number of untrained teachers are still in the schools. The Premier also emphasized that school education should not be restricted to curricula. He stated that the government will take measures to streamline the country's international schools as well. Curricula of the international schools will also be subject to governmental regulations.
The National Diploma in Education was awarded to 2,378 teachers, who completed the diploma course in the national education faculties of Ruhunu, Nilwala, Peradeniya, Uva and Ruwanpura National Colleges of Education.
Deputy Director General of the National Education Institute venerable Dr. Maabulgoda Sumanarathana thera, Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, State Minister of Education Vijayakala Maheswaran, Secretary to the Ministry of Education M. N. Ranasinghe, Director General of the NIE, Dr. T A R Jayanthi Gunasekara were also present at the event.