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Sunday, 11 September 2011





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Nalandians win two international competitions

Nalanda College Principal Ranjith Jayasundara.

Education should mirror the country’s future economic development as in Japan which formulated its education system to produce a matured work force to undertake post war development, said Nalanda College principal Ranjith Jayasundara in an interview with the Sunday Observer commenting on the Sri Lankan students’ recent achievements at international competitions.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Two teams of your College have won first place at international competitions held in India and the USA. Your comments?

A: These achievements are evidence of the country’s education system. Compared to other countries, even in the Socialist Bloc free education is available only in Sri Lanka. Free education introduced by former Education Minister and Father of Free Education C. W. W. Kannangara in the 1940s is unique. Today Sri Lanka is reaping the results of the farsighted educational reforms implemented during the last decades.

A group of Seven Nalandians participated in the second International Festival of Bio Technology in Lucknow, India last month. Eighty groups of students from Singapore, Russia, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and India took part in the competition.

Although Bio Technology is not a popular subject in Sri Lankan schools, it is widely acclaimed internationally and Indian schools.

The Nalanda team which won first place at the International Students Bio Technology Competition held in Lucknow, India.

The Nalanda team which won the Oracle Thinkquest held in California, USA.

In India, it is in the school curriculum and the city campus is equipped with full fledged laboratories catering to 50 students at a time.

In the absence of such advanced laboratory facilities our students depend on the internet and on the media. Our students acquired a thorough knowledge at the end of the event as they had researched the subject.The Nalanda team of students won the Junior Overall Championship.

The other international event in which the Nalandians excelled was The Oracle Think Quest Competition held in California USA. Students from 52 countries including USA, Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, India, China participated in the competition on software development.

It is a rare achievement for Sri Lankan students to be victorious at defeating their rivals such as USA, France, Germany, Singapore, China and India. On the other hand, it has proved that the Sri Lankan students are competent enough to vye with their counterparts for victory.

Q: What significance could be attached to the achievements of these students internationally?

A: Our society is well organised and also open. So are the people. Children are keen to study global matters outside the school curriculum. Although Bio Technology is not a popular subject in Sri Lanka, Nalanda College students won the junior overall championship. On the other hand, the government’s aggressive campaign to popularise e-learning, Information Technology and international languages mainly the English language has given a new lease of life to the education system.

Q: The second largest allocation in the Budge is for Education, for the development of school education. This is an investment for the future of the country. Can you elaborate?

A: Development of education is the government’s top priority. This is justified by the reforms introduced and the huge investment made on education. Our students have excelled internationally and the high level of education is recognized. This is the proof of Government’s sound education policy.Skilled human resources are a must for the development of education. A classic example is how Japan moulded the education system to successfully face the challenge of post war Emerging as an economic giant.

Q: President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself has underscored the importance of quality school education. Sri Lanka ranks high in Information Technology in the region. Your comments.

A: The country is fortunate to have a leader who is very sensitive to the future well-being. His emphasis on e-learning, IT education and English education conceptualized a new dimension in education.

Q: Educational opportunities enjoyed by urban students are denied to rural counterparts. Your comments.

A: The main objective of the one thousand secondary school development project launched by Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena is to ensure equal educational opportunities to students in all parts of the country.

The demand for popular schools in the cities should be discouraged. Adequate facilities, teachers and library facilities should be provided to all schools irrespective of their locations.

The 54 Central Schools setup under the free education scheme introduced by former Education Minister, the late C. W. W. Kannangara witnessed the beginning of a new era in education. The one thousand secondary school program of the present government is a landmark in the context of the educational development.

Q: The main stakeholders of the country’s education are teachers and students. Parents also have a major role to play. Your comments.

A: There is a positive change in school development activities in the last ten years. Parents specially, mothers show a keen interest in their children’s education and school activities. Students spend only a few hours-less than eight in schools. Parents have the responsibility to give a quality education and mould the future of their children.


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