G.C.E. Advanced Level Technology Stream

G.C.E. Advanced Level Technology Stream

UNESCO and ILO Recommendations (2002) identify the purpose of initiation to technological education within general education as ‘To broaden educational horizons by serving as an introduction to the world of work, and the world of technology and its products through the exploration of materials, tools, techniques, and the processes of production, distribution and management as a whole, and to enrich the learning process through practical experience.’ This is demonstrated by many countries by introducing technology streams in the upper secondary education and the experience of Malaysia, as a developing country in the Asian region, is noteworthy. The basket of vocational subjects at the GCE Ordinary Level in Sri Lanka offered to all students provides some initiation to world of work and the world of technology but adequate avenues are not available for those who wish to pursue further technologically oriented education either to enter tertiary education or to find an appropriate employment.

However, general education in Sri Lanka was providing conventional type of opportunities for the students in GCE Advanced Level for a very long period of time. The system that provide limited opportunities for few white collar jobs and the alternative paths were also focused on limited occupations. There were four main streams as physical science, bio science, commerce and arts before 2013 and 51.14% students sat for the advanced level examination in arts in 2010 while 26.47% for commerce and 22.57% for science (physical and bio sciences).  The space for the students to develop any fundamental technological literacy or to improve technological attitudes were very limited or not at all. The students were always indirectly forced to choose universities for degree level education, and technological institutes which provide diploma or higher diploma qualifications, National colleges of education to be qualified as teachers or few parallel institutes for nursing etc.  The tragedy is majority of students leaving the schools not only without basic skills they are not prepared or not aware about the alternative opportunities available in TVET sector. Where do they go? Boys buy a three wheeler on leasing basis. Girls? Not even join the garment sector.

The base line survey conducted by TVEC in 2015 illustrate that the student enrollment for further education and training is limited to 68% of its full capacity for the institutes under Ministry of Skills Development while 53% for other government institutes and 48% for the private sector. Total figure is only 53% of full capacity is occupied by students in 2014.

Other side of the picture is that more number of seats in public universities is allocated for the students pass art stream. Following table illustrate the number of students qualified for the university entrance and number of students enrolled stream wise in 2013 (source: University Grant Commission)

Stream Number of students qualified Number of students enrolled %
Art 68295 8227 12.05
Commerce 37744 5225 13.84
Physical Science 15514 5280 34.03
Biological Science 21203 6376 30.07
other 984 92 9.35
total 143740 25200 17.53

The above table illustrate that the highest majority of degrees are offered by art faculties. Certainly,  there is no doubt that a country need a considerable number of graduates from languages, humanities and social sciences for the economic development of the country. The fact is that the Srl Lanka’s currant requirement of future labor force,does it match with existing education system where majority of young school leavers and degree holders are unemployed while the some major industries which have significant contribution to the country’s economic growth, running with labor shortage? For an instance, the chairman of Board of Investment (BOI) recently, said that there are more than 200,000 vacancies in different BOI projects.

The government in that sense, decided to introduce the Technology streams for advanced level from 2013 with following objectives

  • To provide an additional path for the students who are not qualifying for GCE Advanced Level science or commerce streams. The aim was to increase the number of students enrollment to science and technology streams up to 40% while reducing the students enrollment for art stream up to 25% by 2016.
  • To develop the technological literacy and technological attitudes among the students.
  • To encourage more students to enter NVQ path through TVET system.
  • To provide opportunities for students to continue their higher studies for Bachelor’s degrees with technological disciplines.

However, the idea of technological stream started in 1981 initially, with a proposal made by Presidential Task Force for Education to introduce technology stream with the assistance of TEVT. Secondly, it was again proposed by National Education Commission in 2003 with their annual report. Different efforts were taken by relevant authorities in past which were not much accepted and appreciated by the higher education bodies. Therefore, the result of previous efforts were limited to introduce few technological subjects to art stream were students were given opportunity to select a technological subject as their third subject and further these subjects were introduced  in limited number of schools.

The new Technology Stream

A committee was appointed by Ministry of Education to prepare the guidelines for proposed technology stream in early 2013 which was chaired by DR. T. Piyasiry, former vice chancellor to UNIVOTEC and the thirty-five members from different organization such as universities, NIE, MOE, TVEC, and industry were represented the  committee. The final guideline suggested the following subject combination for Technology stream. It was also suggested to provide the opportunity for student who qualifies for GCE Advanced level in art stream as an alternative path for them. Therefore, entry qualification was set as six passes with three credits in GCE ordinary Level including minimum simple pass for math and science

 

 

 

Subjects

  • Engineering Technology/Biosystem Technology (one to be selected)
  • Science for Technology
  • One to be selected from following subjects;
    • Economics
    • Geography
    • Home Economics
    • English
    • Communication and Media Studies
    • Information and Communication Technology
    • Art
    • Business Studies
    • Agriculture Science
    • Accountancy
    • Mathematics ( added later in 2016) (2016/13 MOE Circular)

It was also suggested to assess the students technical skills at national level, ie. 75% marks for written examination while 25% marks were allocated for practical examination.

 

These suggestions were accepted and agreed by the relevant authorities including University Grant Commission then the stream was introduced to 251 schools in 2013 and number of schools is now increased up to 353. The MOE has provided first 251 schools with technology faculties with tools, equipment and machineries. The teachers are also recruited and been trained to teach the subjects. In addition, the NIE has designed, developed and introduced a Bachelor of Education (honest) degree programme for professional development of newly recruited Engineering Technology teachers.

The second cohort of schools is now developing gradually by MOE.

 

The number of school candidates sat for the Advanced Level examination and the result, illustrates below.

Advanced Level examination result of technology stream in 2015 and 2016

 

2015                                                                                                                 2016

 

Stream Number sat Passed in all 3 subjects
(Eligible for university entrance)
Number %
Engineering Technology 7782 3898 50.09
Bio system Technology 4761 2888 60.66
Stream Number sat Passed in all 3 subjects
(Eligible for university entrance)
Number %
Engineering Technology 11449 6363 55.58
Bio system Technology 7452 4483 60.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Department of Examination

The result in 2015 shows that pass rate of technology students are fairly good compare to Bio science and Physical science streams which has 51.65% and 48.03% respectively. The first cohort of technology student were facing significant difficulties with less facilities and less or untrained teachers as the beginning of programme. However, it is unfortunate that the teacher who rendered remarkable commitment to archive a good result with less facility were not appreciated or rewarded. The MOE also should appreciate the contribution made by the teachers sent by TVET  for the Engineering Technology subject and ate assistance provided by technical colleges for students to improve their practical skills.

 

The2016 table shows that the technology stream is becoming popular among the students. The number of candidates is increased and the number of pass students is increased by 5.49% in engineering technology while Bio system is stagnating at same level. The engineering technology has demonstrated better result than  Bio science and physical science streams in 2016 where  the pass rate is 53.26% and 53.35% respectively.

It is also important to notice that the number of student sat for 2015 examination was 79036 in art stream and reduced to 73985 in 2016 by 6.39% while 53333 commerce students were reduced to 51212 in 2016 by 3.98%.

 

Opportunities offered for the technology students in 2015

The government universities have designed and develop three bachelor degrees for the students who pass the Advanced Level Examination in either Engineering Technology or Bio system Technology. The UGC further explained, that all these degrees are designed to satisfy the market and industrial needs of the country. The Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BET) degrees are designed based on the Accreditation Manual prepared by the Institute of Engineers, Sri Lanka following the attribute of Sydney Accord. The Bachelor of Information Technology (BICT) degrees are formulated according to the guidelines given by the Computer Society of Sri Lanka. The Bachelor of Bio System Technology (BBST) degrees are formulated to obtain accreditation from relevant professional bodies. ( UGC 2015)

 

The new degrees offered by different Universities

University of Sri Jayewardenepura

  • Bachelor of Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology
  • Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology

University of Keleniya

  • Bachelor of Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor of Information and Communication in computer Networking Technology

University of Jaffna

  • Bachelor of Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology in Commercial Green Farming
  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology in Food Production
  • Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology

Eastern University of Sri Lanka

  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology in Agricultural Technology and Entrepreneurship

South Eastern University of Sri Lanka

  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology in Agricultural Technology
  • Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology

University of Ruhuna

  • Bachelor of Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology
  • Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology

Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka

  • Bachelor of Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology

Rajarata University of Sri Lanka

  • Bachelor of Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology
  • Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology

Wayamba University of Sri Lanka

  • Bachelor of Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Nano Sciences Technology
  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology

Uva Wellassa University of Sri Lanka

  • Bachelor of Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor of Bio System Technology

The estimated number of students for above new degrees is 1825 and in addition to the new degrees there are about eighteen existing degree programs which the technology students are eligible to apply. ( UGC 2015)

The students who are not eligible for university entrance but with three passes are eligible to apply for University Colleges to continue further education in NVQ 5/6.

The different private sector organization are also providing further education opportunities for diploma and degree level for the technology students such as SLIIT, SLT, City and Guilds Pearson etc.

Above are some of the evidence that  shows the Technology stream is a significant need to produce skilled and knowledgeable workforce with positive attitudes for the economic growth of the country and the opportunities are already establish and will be expanding. A great responsibility is laid on the shoulders of teachers to produce better products which can be marketed in the world of work.

 

NTK Lokuliyana

Director,

Department of Technology Education

National Institute of Education

 

 

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