Are foreign educational institutions a must for Lankan students?
The number of Sri Lankan youth studying in foreign educational institutions has significantly increased during the past four years. Even some parents are of the opinion that their children could find better jobs only if they do their higher studies in foreign countries.
When the Sunday Observer interviewed educationist, intellectuals and the general public on this issue, former student of Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala now employed as a computer hardware engineer, Dr. Lakshitha Wijegunawardana said that he had never studied in a foreign country.
“Since I was unable to become a medical doctor, I focused my attention towards IT education and I entered a local institution which has their parent body in Melbourne, Australia, thereafter without going to Australia I completed my studies here,” he said.
Dr. Wijegunawardana further said that facilities are ample to prepare and sit for many foreign examinations in Sri Lanka today and urged young Lankans not to go to foreign counties for higher education.
Former Central Province Education Minister and present Deputy Minister of Justice and Law Reforms, V. Puththirasigamoney said that local academics and intellectuals must make drastic changes in our education system to attract students. “If not more Lankan students will leave the country in the future to study in foreign countries,”.
He also urged the Minister in-charge of higher education, politicians, academics and other concerned parties to discuss this matter further and take steps to set up higher educational institutions in our country with foreign collaboration.
The Deputy Minister further said a fair number of Lankan students still go to foreign medical colleges and thereafter coming back to Sri Lanka seek employment in government hospitals. “He therefore urged authorities to set up private medical colleges here and it will help Sri Lanka to save millions of valuable foreign exchange,” he said. He also suggested the setting up with foreign collaboration
engineering colleges to stop local engineering students leaving for studies in foreign soil.
Founder, “Pragnapradeepa Concept”, Dr. Jayantha de Silva said that studying in foreign educational institutions by Lankan children has become a menace today.
“At present we have better educational institutions which are conducted with foreign collaboration and therefore attending to foreign educational institutions for higher studies is a waste of money,” he said.
He also blamed certain local employers who give preference to overseas educated in preference to localy educated ones.
Dr. de Silva also urged the Government not to open international universities here since it will adversely affect the majority poor children engaged in higher education in the Sinhala medium in local universities.
Dr. De Silva appealed to higher educational authorities to take immediate steps to upgrade English language education and the knowledge of Information Technology of children from Advanced Level to the university level.
“Lack of knowledge in these subjects has become an obstacle for our children to find better jobs although they have excellent academic qualifications,” he added.
Director, Business Development and Education, Gwendoline Kuhatheva said that due to lack of educational institutions with foreign collaborations many children are going to study in foreign countries.
“Therefore, I urge educational authorities to encourage interested parties to open branches of foreign universities here,”.
However, she said when comparing to the 1980s, our students have now got better opportunities to do their higher studies here since many international study courses are being conducted, in Sri Lanka with foreign collaboration.
Mercantile sector Executive, Susila Gunasekara said that our children studying in foreign countries cannot be stopped unless more branches of foreign educational institutions are set up here. “I wish that educational authorities must discuss this matter further and pave the way for Lankans to have their entire education in our country as the students of India,”.
Student at IPM, Thushani Kularathne wanted the Government to appoint foreign lecturers in local universities, so that our children will be able to acquire upto date international knowledge from them without going to foreign countries.
She said the poor knowledge of English of our younger generation has also become a big problem for them to find jobs.
School teacher, Gamini Punchihewa of Ratmalana did not blame local
students who study medicine going abroad for higher studies.
“If we have private medical colleges as in many countries, our students would never enter foreign medical colleges by paying exorbitant charges,”.
He therefore proposed to the Government to set up medical and engineering colleges here as it is the only way to stop our children going for overseas education.
Chitrangani Samuel of Ratmalana said. “Although we have about nine State owned universities, the current education methods in our country are not suitable to equip them for better employment,”
“This could be clearly seen when thousands of graduates every year demand the Government to provide them employment,”
She said that she has never seen graduates in countries such as India, Australia, Canada, America, China or England engage in demonstrations over employment.
“Therefore, under such circumstances, I think no one should be blamed for seeking foreign education,”
But, if authorities want to stop Lankans going to foreign countries for higher eduction then the education of our universities as well as advanced level classes must be changed to meet the demand of the current job market.