The Ministry of Education and the Exams Department have turned a blind eye to children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia and have refused to accommodate requests from the school and the parents to allow support during the exams as is recommended by experts.
The incident was brought to light when the parent of a young boy posted on social media about how her son was denied the support of a reader and a writer (someone who will read the paper out to him as his reading abilities are slower and someone who will write out the answers he gives verbally as his writing is slower than usual) for his OL exams despite the recommendations and reports of medical experts.
The parents had reportedly taken their son to Dr Samanmali Sumansena at the Ragama Teaching Hospital in 2018, after he was diagnosed to be on the dyslexia spectrum when he was 7 years old. Dr Sumansena had directed them to Dr Tamara Handy, a learning difficulty specialist. The report by these two doctors, plus two others were handed over to the Ministry to prove the child’s difficulty with reading and writing.
However, it seems that the Ministry of Education and the Examinations Department have made no accommodations for this student - and even others in the same situation. The parents said that the knowledge of dyslexia was so low, that the inquiry board at the Examinations Dept. had repeatedly looked for physically signs of disability. However, dyslexia is not a physical defect, but a learning difficulty. It poses challenges with reading, writing and spelling; those who are dyslexic often see letters inverted and are confused with numbers; but it does not affect their general intelligence. With support, dyslexic people are able to keep up with their peers, but most are considered ‘slow’ or ’stupid’ or ‘not especially bright’ and many drop out of the education system as a result.
The fact that these parents endeavour to give their son a fighting chance has been dismissed by educational authorities with no understanding of learning disabilities is a shame. These are very subjects they should be aware of and make accommodations for. The young boy in question has spent the last 3 years studying for his OL exams alongside his peers with the faith that accommodations will be made for his disability. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka education authorities turn a blind eye.