Far-reaching changes to Grade-5 exam: Minister
Oct 30, 2013

The Education Ministry hopes to introduce far-reaching changes to the Grade-5 scholarship examination as a result of requests from parents, educationists and educational psychologists to abandon it because it was hugely stressful to students, Education Minister Bandula Gunawardana said. He said he was awaiting the recommendations of the Cabinet Subcommittee and the Education Policy Reform Committee before taking a final decision on the scholarship examination.

“I informed the Cabinet and it appointed a Cabinet Subcommittee comprising eight ministers and officials to look into the matter and make recommendations. It is accepted that students who sit the grade-5 scholarship examination should not be burdened neither should they be subjected to unnecessary stress,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) – the state establishment responsible for the welfare of the children of the country – urged the government to abandon the conduct of the highly controversial grade-five scholarship examination.

NCPA Chairperson Anoma Dissanayaka said the exam did more harm to young children than good because the competition was so stressful for a ten-year-old child. “We have asked the Education Ministry to take another look at the conduct of the grade-five examination because the benefits are restricted to a limited number of students while a large number of students end up extremely distressed and humiliated. The students who fail are subjected to harassment and violence by their parents and this is bound to affect their education and mental stability,” she said.

For instance, only 15,000 students are entitled to a monthly bursary of Rs.500 out of the 322,455 who sat the scholarship examination this year. Bursaries are granted to students who obtain 160 marks or more and those who obtain a minimum of 35 marks for each subject or a total of 70 or more marks are considered as having passed the examination.

Ms. Dissarnayake said in developed countries, students in the lower classes were not even issued results of examinations with marks as it would affect them mentally. They are given only a grade and not subjected to any unbearable pressure.

She said the NCPA would make a formal request to scrap the examination after discussing this matter with all stakeholders.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka

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