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With the release of Grade Five scholarship results, focus was shifted back to the way the scholarship has become too competitive and why parents put so much pressure on their children to pass the scholarship exam. Many of us would agree that the competitive nature of the scholarship exam isn’t healthy and that Grade Five students, who are usually 10 years old, shouldn’t be put under so much pressure.

However, the scholarship exams continue to be of importance and are a great way to gain admission to a ‘popular’ school. What is a popular school?

A popular school doesn’t necessarily have the best teachers and best approach to educating students. Popular schools can be national schools or private schools and are usually located in Colombo. These schools usually produce students who are fluent in English and hand them a better ticket to achieve great things in life. If you attended one of these popular schools, you can’t deny having not noticed how impressed people are when they hear of your school. If someone regards you as an ordinary, every Tom, Dick and Harry sort of person, they will have a better impression of you if they hear you attended a popular school.

With all the perks a popular school offers, it is understandable why parents push their children to gain admission to such schools. University entrance and employment is made easy and in general, you have more opportunities in life if you went to a popular school. We can pretend this isn’t true and there are people who haven’t attended popular schools but have gone far in life. However, these schools continue to better our chances of employment and being accepted by certain social circles.

For such reasons, the Grade Five scholarship exams are considered to be extremely important and being accepted into a popular school is like winning the lottery. Thus can we blame parents for putting their children under great pressure? Don’t we all want the better, rather than worse, life?

This issue with popular schools makes us also realize that in this country, and entire world, equal opportunities continue to be far from being a reality. Feminists will fight for gender equality, but sex isn’t the only way society is divided or categorized. Class stratification continues to be a barrier to social equality and standing in the way of equal opportunities to all are factors like the school you attended or family you come from.

What’s the solution to this problem? Will scrapping the Grade Five scholarship exam solve the issue? Can all schools be brought to one level? Can the mindset and attitude of not just a handful of individuals but of society in general be changed overnight?
How long will it take for equal opportunities for all to be a reality?

  • Manujer Thillekerathne

    Child Protection members and Akila must read this article. If not for the scholarship exam, Charith Akalanka (SL under 19 captain, from Richmond) wouldn’t have come this far and would have been a loss for SL.