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Ethnically mixed schools good for social reform but unrealistic – Marikkar

By Nisali De Silva

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Despite post-Easter conversations about introducing government schools that are not divided along lines of religion or ethnicity, Sri Lanka’s education system will not allow such a transformation to take place, UNP Parliamentarian S. M. Marikkar said.

Addressing the media at Temple Trees this morning (9 July), Marikkar said that had the system allowed it, hundreds of citizens who are conscious of Sri Lanka’s sociocultural diversity would have been produced by now.

“They say Imtiaz Bakeer Marker is a product of Ananda College who is well educated in reconciliation, but the system will not allow more people of his calibre to be produced. This is because, in Sri Lanka, school admissions are prioritised based on place of origin, relationship to past pupils and government servants,” he said.

“Ananda College, which admits 400 students a year, does not give a chance to a single Muslim student,” he added.

The MP further said that if students were admitted to Ananda College based on the distance to the school from their place of residence, many Muslim students could have been welcomed into its fold.

“A majority of Muslims live in villages that are located in between Sinhala villages. Therefore, when those Muslim children do not get a chance to learn in the Tamil medium in Sinhala schools, Muslims go behind politicians and establish Muslim schools. This has to change. Ethnically mixed schools are a good opportunity for social reform,” he said.