Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who's Right

Growing up, I'm sure your parents kept telling you that you have to finish school with good grades, get into a good university and land a good job. Well that is the usual shit they tell you to define success in life. Education is a basic human right, something that all humans are entitled to. But most of the time, something as essential is not absolutely free. Here in Srilanka, some of us are actually blessed with a free education system, funded by the government, which really means that we are paying for ourselves. Anyway, that aside, the 'government' education system provides for thousands of children all over the country.

It goes from the primary's all the way up to the universities. The problem with the government system is that, when it comes to higher education system, placing is limited and the quality is not adequate when compared on a global scale. This is not to say they are incompetent, but rather lacking in skills that someone who studied abroad would possess. The seating is limited, a quota a places is given to each province and entry is gained by sitting for the local AL exams, and scoring above a given target.

Now that we have established that, lets move onto the other options a Srilankan student has. Another option is to go abroad, note that these options are in no particular order. Students either go to foreign universities by choice or because they have no better option. The problem with this is that some who go don't return, leading to a brain drain and to ad to that a large amount of money leaves the country as well. An estimated 80000 people leave the country annually for higher studies, so if each spends a low average of 2 millions rupees, that's a whopping Rs. 160000000000 which goes out of the country.

There are some students who are unable to go to a foreign university because of financial limitations and not able to enroll at a local university because they haven't done the local AL's, instead maybe the London AL's. The only option this person would have is to get maybe a professional qualification like CIMA and maybe hope for a good job with that. But since recent, there are Srilankan institutions which are affiliated with foreign universities that allow the students to study in Srilanka and receive the same foreign degree for a fraction of the cost.

This has opened up an avenue for thousands to pursue their dreams and gain a proper higher education in their own country, thereby keeping the money within it. In logic, it is a great concept which will help the country in the long run. But has recently been met with much hostility from those in the government run system. These individuals are calling for the closure of these institutions saying that they are decreasing their chances of getting a job. They say that instead of wasting money of foreign degrees, the money from that can be used to 'expand' the government system.

But then comes the point of expanding the government system? The government system first needs to improve the quality of its output then consider expansion. Education is a right that everyone has, just because it hinders the chances of another, that another has no must not try to take away the right to education of that person. The reason the person educated under the foreign system may get the job is because he is better than the other candidate from the local system. It is a blatant way to say it, but it is reality at the end of the day. So instead of trying to shut down and wasting their time threatening other institutions, should they not be using that time to push for reforms in the current system to improve it.

It does seem the logical thing to do, if someone is better than you, must shouldn't just try to eliminate that person, you have to work hard and get better than him. In all,education is every one's basic human right no matter what.


  1. Frankly, I'd go for CIMA rather than a degree from an affiliated institute because they generally offer degrees from shit univeresities such as Uni of Wolverhampton, which is 115th in the UK university rankings!

  2. All education from local uni's isn't inferior to what you get outside, y'know...

    Also, you sure about the 80k people leaving the country each year?

  3. Frankly I don't think the education received from state universities in Lanka is inferior to a foreign uni - at least in CS (computer science). Don't know about other fields though.

    And just consider this fact : a person would normally go abroad paying millions if she isn't able to attend a state uni. meaning that she didn't get enough marks. meaning that she wasn't talented/hard working as the other extremely small percentage that actually did get selected. I'm not trying to devalue or insult anyone but just stating the facts here.

    So, it's just not fair to say that a person with a foreign degree is essentially better than a person with a local degree is it?
    Shouldn't we judge people by their abilities and not by where they got their degree?

  4. good post. this is a debate very dear to me for several reasons paramount among them is that I am an employer.

    Foreign graduates are not necessarily better but i think that there is much to be learned from moving out of one's home and fending for yourself in a foreign land - including self confidence and conviction on a global level. That said some of our local grads are equal to and surpass those from abroad - but I would limit these to a few institutes. the same goes for those coming from abroad. There is however a sense of entitlement ("I am a grad of University of so-and-so you should give me a job") that I have noticed that I find disconcerting.

    my only advice when looking for a job is: it's a competitive world out there - find things you are passionate about that differentiate you from the competition. travel is good...

  5. @thiru what you say is true, but at the same time, there are other universities that provide the degrees here, like say Monash

    @Jerry inferior isn't the word i guess, i would say, they are not as 'polished' in certain areas

    and yes that apparently is correct but thats the total of everyone leaving for education, not just undergrad's

    @niroshinie yeah I know someone doing that at colombo uni and he's brilliant at what he does, even though he's in the second year i think. this ties into what @maf said. you are right maf there is something those who go abroad have that those educated here don't. Maybe a year ago i used to work with someone who had graduated with a BA from kelaniya I think, but he didn't have basic communication skills that someone in their first year at ANC would have. Being someone familiar with both the american and british methods of teaching, I would say that the American system builds you as an individual, whereas what the british system does is program you for the job you want to do, and it is this british system that the government system is based on.

  6. Oh, nice topic but let me be very brief.

    I agree with maf. Right now, we are recruiting for an international network (outside Sri Lanka) and I cannot even think of people from Sri Lanka: our graduates are not globally competitive. They might have the knowledge, but the system is far too old fashioned, and as a result, the graduates are not capable of thinking outside the box.

    There are more engineers in Sri Lanka than the number of paved roads; but how many pavements have perfectly aligned concrete tiles? There are more “world-class” marketers than the number of international tea brands we produce, but do you know that Sri Lankan tea will go extinct from Russia in the next 8 years if the current trend continues?

    Should I go on..?

    The “quality” of are graduates are not very good – with the exception of very few areas such as IT. That too is mostly producing “doers” and not “thinkers.”

    Going back to what niroshinie says, when we judge people by their abilities and not where they got their degrees, SL degree holders have no chance outside Sri Lanka; and very little chance even inside the country.

    More about this in a related topic in my blog earlier: