The Prime Minister warranted innovative thinking as a part of the revitalisation process of the education system.
Premier Wickremesinghe also pointed out that a few decades ago, there were very good schools centered in each main city.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was speaking at a ceremony held yesterday at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo to celebrate Catholic Teachers’ Day.
The Prime Minister also said that parents are going through many hardships to find a good school for their children and expressed surprise at the amount of money that parents have to pay for international schools.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said discussions are ongoing with regard to providing more support for semi-government schools.
The Prime Minister also said the present government is to promote the concept where such government funded schools will act as mentors for their closest and selected schools.
Premier Wickremesinghe pointed out that such a concept will generate a win-win situation for both parties.
“While commending the excellent role played by semi-government schools in providing quality education, Premier Wickremesinghe said the move to nationalise all schools in 1961 had more negative results for the education system than good points.
“I studied the debate with regards to this move and both Dudley Senanayake and J.R. Jayewardene had argued against this move. They requested to take over only the necessary schools under the control of the government and that the other schools be guided by the respective organisations,” the Prime Miniuster said.
The Premier also pointed out that because of this move, many schools under both the Catholic Church and Buddhist organisations were handed over to the government. “When the government nationalised all schools, the Catholic Church could only retain a few schools. All the Buddhist schools except Musaeus College were handed over to the government. More Catholic and Buddhist schools should have been allowed to remain alongside with the national schools,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said. The Prime Minister pointed out that former President Ranasinghe Premadasa received his education at St. Joseph’s College. He said that President Premadasa was proud of the fact that the education he received at St. Joseph’s College school contributed much to his political career.
Premier Wickremesinghe also pointed out that in order to revive the education system, the need for qualified teachers is a must. “National and private schools should have dynamic teachers with knowledge, skills, discipline and spiritual value. There is no holistic education system without dynamic teachers,” he added. The Prime Minister deeply appreciated the contribution made by the Catholic teachers in empowering the future of the country with quality education. Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, His Grace Most Reverend Dr. Oswald Gomis (Archbishop Emeritus) and Secretary to the Ministry of Education Sunil Hettiarachchi also participated in the event.