A.G.A.Barrie, B.Sc(Eng). P.Eng.
The standard of education among Muslims in Sri Lanka is very pathetic, shocking and alarming. The percentage of Muslims gaining admission to the Universities are falling year by year and is around 3% at present, even though Muslims amount to 7% of the total population of Sri Lanka. 65% of the entry to Universities is based on performance and the remaining 35% is based on Quota and Provincial basis. We have failed miserably to be within the top 65% and trying very hard to enter based on Quota and Provincial allocations. This could be due to many reasons. Foremost being poverty, followed by lack of facilities in Muslim schools, non-proficient in Singhalese and Tamil languages, low standard of teachers and lack of interest shown by the parents. Hence the proposed Educational Trust should identify the problems facing each of the main Muslim Villages and propose solutions to overcome these obstacles.
PROBLEM AND SOLUTIONS
Various studies show that 70% of the Muslims are living below poverty line.This is being further analyzed so as to confirm the authenticity by Mr Izzeth Hussein.
Education is directly dependent and the performance is proportional to poverty. Hence the poverty also can be reduced, if the poverty stricken Muslims are provided an opportunity to educate their children. Hence it is easier to provide the facilities to educate and put the onus on the parents to educate their children at least up to GCE(O) level. This is the first step. All Muslim children must be encouraged to sit the GCE(O) level examination. Once the bright students get the required credits help them with their requirements so that as many as possible gets into Universities after GCE(A) level. The less capable children should be provided with facilities to excel in skill trades.
Most of the Muslims below poverty line are lacking in education. Hardly any in this category goes for higher education; the total number entering the University is falling because of this category. The number of students gaining admission to faculties of Law, Medical, Engineering and IT are very low and almost zero based on performance percentage, even if we take the entire community.
The Muslim community in Sri Lanka can easily be divided into three categories. These are being, the rich, the middle class and the poor. The rich or the affluent is under 5%, the middle class around 25% and those below poverty line are around 70%. The 3% entry to University is from mostly middle class.
Hence our priority should be to alleviate the 70% of the Muslims who are below poverty line, either through Univ4ersity education or through Technical courses.
Most of the Muslim schools are neglected. There are no facilities. The class rooms are overcrowded. The roofs are leaking. The buildings are falling apart. The environment is not conducive for education. The National Schools are OK, to some extent but the other schools in Muslim villages are an eyesore. Therefore in addition to Educational Trust identifying the schools and improving it the able residents of the area too should be involved in upgrading the schools.
Unfortunately the teachers assigned to Muslim schools are below par. Even if they are capable they lack motivation. Teachers being one of the main contributing factors for improving the quality of education, Education Trust have to identify the teachers of the selected school who need assistance to produce best results. This can be done by arranging Seminars and Workshops for enhancing the abilities of the teachers. They also could request for more competent teachers from the Government, especially those from the same area. Further the teachers can be motivated by offering bonuses based on results.
Both Sinhalese and Tamil are not our mother tongue. Hence we are facing the difficulty in competing with Sinhalese students and Tamil students. Alhamdulillah introduction of English is going to be blessing in disguise for Muslims as the competition will be on equal footing and we could excel Insha Allah. In the meantime we have to utilize some of retired Tamil and Sinhalese teachers to tutor our students in the respective languages. Muslim students from East and North should farewell after rehabilitation and the schools are improved Insha Allah
Parents are not taking any interest in education and welfare of their children, especially in the poor families. This is mainly due to lack of education in either of the parents and leading a irresponsible way of living. This could be overcome by organizing again Seminars for the parents and dedicated volunteers visiting from house to house to informing and making aware of the importance of Education. The onus has to be on the parents, specially from grade one to GCE(O) level to produce results. Once they obtain good results in GCE(O) level the students will be matured enough to proceed and obtain good results in GCE(A) level.
ZAHIRA COLLEGE, COLOMBO
In the golden era of Zahira around 15 to 20 students enter university every year. We are missing this now due to poor standard of the School. They have the facilities but quality of the student’s intake is poor. If the standard is raised and the teachers are motivated, Zahira can be improved to increase the entries to the university. The evening session and the hostel facilities should be re-established.
Thanks to present Chairman of the Board of Governors, the Principal, the teachers and the assistance from some old boys, the school is reshaping and on its way towards success.
Predetermined criteria should be adopted to implement the Education Trust sponsoring. This way transparency will be maintained and leaves no room for any doubts.
Selection of schools for upgrading and providing facilities
a. National school
Determine the total number of national Muslim schools and select one school from each Province. Government usually provides all facilities but can be assisted to increase the performance. The teachers in the school especially the ones in-charge of science subjects and the language has to be encouraged to produce results.
b. Normal Government Schools
Select one school from each town and provide the necessary assistance to improve.
Selection of students for assistance
•Start with Grade 5 scholarship students from village schools and provide additional support as required. This should be only on merit irrespective of parents earning as the children are from village schools. Normally the scholarship is won by children of teachers and this will be an additional bonus for the teachers to perform
•Offer assistance to needy children who have obtained good results in GCE(O) level. Set minimum requirements like 6As and 2Bs or something that is reasonable. The parents to fall under poverty level and should not be earning more than around 5000/= per month.
•Exceptionally bright students from poor family from National schools following science subjects in GCE(O) level classes.
•Establish hostel facilities at least for the boys in Colombo, Kandy, Galle Etc so that eligible needy children will have facilities to attend good schools.
Set up tuition centers.
•Set up tuition centers in each town so that students need not travel very far, for any assistance. This should be for Science subjects only for GCE(O) and (A) Levels.
•For other subjects the teachers should be paid extra based on results.
•Retired teachers can be utilized for the purpose tutoring
Assistance to teachers
•Competent teachers to be requested from government and proper monitoring to be used to check on performance.
•Outstation teachers to be provided with boarding facilities so that the teachers can perform.
•Principal of the school should be encouraged to take the lead and an award to be presented for best performance in each Province.
•Parent, teachers and old boys interaction to be encouraged
•Take part in annual events such as Prize giving, Sports meet and other social events
•Hold inter-school competitions in various subjects in each province
•Motivate Parents by recognizing the performance of the children in lower grades.
•Dedicated officials from Educational Trust to visit schools on a regular basis.
•Set up Vocational training centers in each village
•Organize Seminars and workshops for both teachers and students
•Set up student counseling especially directing the failures at both GCE(O) and GCE (A) levels
•Monitor the progress on an agreed format
All the above can be achieved by individuals and families too. One must gather the resources from each village and start the project in their own villages. This will be very effective as the funders are from each village and those who following up and getting it done are also from the same village. This should start immediately while waiting for the Education Trust to kick off.
Based on above criteria, we the residents of Maligahena, Beruwela has taken the lead to provide facilities to both Boys and girls school. May Allah reward Al Hadj Zam Refai to have financed the entire school construction, financing the salaries of English teachers and additional payments to teachers for tutoring the GCE(A) level students
Based on above criteria, we the residents of Maligahena, Beruwela has taken the leadt to provide facilities to both Boys and girls school. May Allah reward Al Hadj Zam Refai to have financed the entire school construction, financing the salaries of English teachers and additional payments to teachers for tutoring the GCE(A) level students