Tertiary Education Spend Shrinks
By Paneetha Ameresekere
While progressive countries have increased their tertiary education spend in gross domestic product (GDP) terms, Sri Lanka has done the opposite, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Eran Wickramaratna said on Tuesday (1 December ).
Speaking at the debate on the vote of the Education Ministry in Parliament, he said that in 2013, Sri Lanka’s tertiary education spend was equivalent to 0.37 per cent of GDP, but by 2013 it had shrunk to 0.34 per cent.
In contrast, in 1998, Japan’s expenditure on tertiary education was equivalent to 0.41 per cent of their GDP. But by 2014 it had increased to 0.78 per cent of GDP. Similarly, Korea’s GDP spend on tertiary education was equivalent to 0.37 per cent of GDP in 1998. But by 2013 it had more than doubled to 0.86 per cent of GDP. Likewise Singapore’s GDP spend on tertiary education in 2008 was equivalent to 0.91 per cent of GDP. But by 2013 it had increased to 1.03 per cent of GDP, said Wickramaratna.
The Opposition MP also pointed out vast disparities in higher education led by the more affluent Western Province (WP), compared with the rest of the country. Wickramaratna said that in 2016, the higher education gross enrolment ratio of a student who generally completed his secondary education was the highest in the Western and Central Provinces with a figure of 18 per cent each, whereas in the North Central Province and in the Uva, these percentages yielded low figures of eight per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.
‘And, in 2016 and 2017, 60,878 graduated from WP universities alone, while islandwide, this figure was a mere 106, 404. This shows that 57 per cent of all passed out graduates in the reference period emanated from WP universities,’ said Wickramaratna.
Likewise, in the same period,
23,447 graduates, islandwide, completed their Masters degrees. Of this number, 20,010 were those who successfully read for their Masters degrees from universities located in the WP, signifying that 85 per cent of all undergraduates who successfully read for their Masters degrees, were those graduates who were enrolled in universities located in the WP.
The Opposition MP further said that in 2018 a total of 267,111 students sat for the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level Examination (GCE A/L). Of this number, 167,907 qualified to enter university. That means 62.86 per cent of students who sat the GCE A/L that year qualified to enter university. But the reality was that only 31,451 students entered university, the Opposition MP said. ‘Lakhs are being deprived of entering university,’ he added.