Focus on a wide spectrum of education
I felt honoured to be invited to review a graphic work on education
by a very seasoned and internationally acclaimed educationalist. Yet, I
felt challenged too for this 400 plus paged voluminous work does not
seem to include a single sentence that is not relevant to the important
issue in hand. Lucidly explaining that if I were to quote significant
passages from it, I would have to quote the whole book!
The central issue is mostly about the deprived children of the island
and generally of the Asiatic developing countries and how they keep on
missing what is owed to them in the arena of education while bonanzas
seem to fall on the laps of children in favoured families with the
expansion of opportunities. That is in keeping with the swift progress
of the world in the material sphere. But what makes the scenario almost
vicious is that the ‘haves’ are flourishing in the set up while fortunes
ebb elsewhere. That the major segment of the population in many a
developing Asian country belongs to the deprived sector is no startling
news. Yet that it almost hinges on a hoodoo condition too is no
startling news against the backdrop of ballooning affluence..
With the author's wide experience in Afghanistan and in other
developing Asian countries as a lead figure in this area where poverty
haunts the valleys, hills, dales, forests, villages and cities Dr.
Ekanayake is amply suited to communicate his ideas and voice his
suggestions. But we need no erudite scholar to focus on the widening gap
between educational opportunities resultant on the varied devices for
the educational enhancement of children of the economically well–off
Failed Pedagogy -
Need for new paradigms
Author: DR. S.B. Ekanayake
Coalition for Educational Development
Foreign countries just play it up drawing away our cash. The families
steeped in poverty and hopelessness, especially the children are just
bewildered by the swirl of prosperity all around and at a loss to get
hold of a string to hold on to and rise. It is natural that they too
wish to enjoy what life offers in this increasingly consuming society or
at least aspire to a life of what is called, human dignity.
The book is too voluminous for a newspaper review but I too caught
some strings here and there as the line up of questions on page 38.
System of education
To what extent has the formal system of education been of use to
those who failed to benefit by it?
Has there been a second chance provided for the drop—outs of the
What are the attempts made to bridge the formal and non—formal
Do members of the community have an idea of what is development and
aims of development?
What are the ideal characteristics of a good education system for a
rural pedagogical system?
What are the futuristic changes that we should envisage while keeping
the above views and challenges?
I have here quoted only six (the more vital ones) in my haste to
indicate the author’s identified areas to work out solutions. The areas
are given below.
* Educational and training needs appropriate for rural settlements
* Identification of resources in rural area
* Identification of social, economic and cultural problems of Rural
* Finding out specific training needs of school heads and teachers in
relation to settlements
* Identifying attitudes and interests of parents towards formal
* Identifying the needs of women in development.
The author goes on to chew on large and vital areas aligned to the
topic such as the small school, strategies for teacher training for
disadvantaged groups and impact of education on the life of the people.
These chapters too are of great relevance to the present context in our
island. Chapter 7 deals with pedagogy and development. Chapter 8 is on
multiple class teaching. Chapter 9 is about school feeding program —
implications on the quality of life of the rural poor and Theme 111
Education for quality of Life using agriculture. A cynic may comment
that this is again miring the rural and poor child in the very
circumstances he was born and bred in while the favoured fly to the
But this is the very problem that has to be attacked as to how far
one can bridge the gap. The chapter on learning from reality has the
thought provoking sub–sections, Social ecology of the villagers,
technology with a human face, rural technology, a saviour, program on
lifelong learning from rural life, and agriculture based teaching and
It is pointless to close our eyes to the glaring fact that most of
the island’s denizens come from the rural areas and stand second to the
city affluent. What should be done is to grapple with the problem before
it goes on having an impact on the young, their eyes bright with hope.
The bibliography is almost awesome and reflects the avid preparation
the author indulged in for the production of this work other than
surveys. I will end this review by quoting a section from the blurb
penned by Dr. Atle Hetland, himself an international figure in
“The author’s aim is to bestow empowerment to the deprived, rural and
urban in the developing countries so that they can take charge of their
own development and destiny not leaving it to leaders and donors who may
be more interested in their own affairs and have less understanding for
poor people’s education and development needs that they claim at
international conferences and in scholarly publications”.
Has he touched on the crux of the problem where ensuring a bright
future for the poor rural child end up around gleaming tables?
He goes on, “In the years to come, it is hoped that Dr. Ekanayake’s
new book and contributions by other thinkers will lead to new paradigms
in education so that all countries can provide education for all their
children. Prof. Wiswa Warnapala eulogises the book Failed Pedagogy as a
bold attempt to broaden the vision of the field of education to other
sectors. I however, wish that the book was titled “Failing pedagogy”
leaving room for many improvements that the author suggests in all
sincerity and courage of convictions. But the sub title “Need for new
paradigms” does make it very optimistic and nothing like optimism to