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President calls for overhauling education system

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To drive economic transformation:
Urges creation of professionals suited for world market:

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized the necessity of implementing a new education system to steer the country towards economic transformation, one that aligns with global standards and can cultivate professionals suited for the competitive world market.

He stressed the importance of reducing exam pressures and integrating English and technology subjects into the curriculum to prepare students for the workforce. Additionally, plans are underway to establish new vocational colleges and universities of technology.

These remarks were made during President Wickremesinghe’s participation in the national programme of distributing free school textbooks and uniforms at St. Anthony’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya, Kollupitiya yesterday (14). The distribution programme extends to providing textbooks and uniforms to student monks and nuns across 10,126 schools and 822 pirivenas throughout the island.

Symbolically, the President himself distributed uniforms and school books to both student monks and students.

During the event, St. Anthony’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya Principal Sister Anne Christine presented a commemorative gift to President Wickremesinghe as a gesture of appreciation.

Continuing his address, the President reiterated the need for educational reforms and emphasized their critical role in shaping the future of the nation.

Expressing his ideas further, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said, “I live near five schools, namely my school Royal College, Thurston College, Ladies’ College, Mahanama College, and St. Anthony’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya. This background has instilled in me a deep concern for education. During President J.R. Jayewardene’s tenure, we prioritized the development of these educational institutions.

“In 2022, the country faced a severe economic crisis that impacted every sector, including education. The inability to provide school textbooks and uniforms was a stark reality. Amidst the crisis, with no leader stepping forward, I embraced the challenge to initiate economic recovery programmes.

“Through concerted efforts, the country has now achieved some economic stability. Consequently, timely provision of school uniforms and textbooks became feasible, with over Rs. 14 billion allocated for this purpose.

“I firmly advocate for education reforms and the creation of a new educational paradigm in our country. Our focus should be on nurturing professionals who can thrive in the global arena. To drive economic transformation, our education system must align with international standards, equipping students to compete effectively. By alleviating exam pressures and incorporating English and technology subjects, we aim to groom a workforce ready for the demands of the modern world. Plans are also underway to establish vocational colleges and technical universities to further this objective.

“None of us wish to regress to the dire state our country was in 2022, marked by long queues for gas, fuel, and food. Our collective aspiration is for a society free from such hardships. We are steadfastly committed to building a resilient economy, ensuring we never experience such turbulent times. The programme to fortify Sri Lanka’s economy is currently underway, driven by our unwavering determination.”

Education Minister Dr. Susil Premajayantha commended the President’s efforts in consolidating the education sector and ensuring the provision of resources for formal education despite past constraints.

“The Chinese government donated 80 percent of the school uniforms provided today, while the Government of Sri Lanka covered the remaining 20 percent. Textbook printing utilized paper from the Indian loan aid scheme. The Government ensured textbooks were delivered on time and even generated a profit from printing activities last year. The total expenditure for school uniforms and textbooks amounted to Rs. 19 billion,” the Minister stated.

“Plans are underway to conduct the delayed G.C.E. Ordinary Level Exam and G.C.E. Advanced Level Exam by 2025 amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. The President is actively contributing to education reform to align the system with global standards, aiming to cultivate a generation of globally competitive children,” he added. State Minister of Education Aravindh Kumar, MP Yadamini Gunawardena, Western Province Governor Marshal of the Air Force Roshan Goonetileke, Education Ministry Secretary Wasantha Perera, Commissioner General of Educational Publications Z. Thajudeen, along with the Principal, teachers, and students of St. Anthony’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya attended the event.

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