| by Andrea Brito Babapulle
( April 2, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Not many papers would publish articles about the foreign students who come to this country for an education because it is a "touchy subject" and likely, a loss of income because the organisations which take advantage of the systems are advertisers. I would like the press to make this known because the children are being cheated, not only of a rightful education but also of their money. Across the board all organisations are approached by foreign students because they need a visa, either for themselves or for their parents who are their guardians. They bring in foreign exchange, but they are not treated with any "kindness" for their contribution. In the same way, the housemaids, the unskilled workers who go to Arab countries for the Petro dollar, are given short change for their generosity. Rhizana who was beheaded while the mother was likely shopping in Gucci for having fed a baby milk and did not know the art of burping the child after a feed, so the child choked on the milk and died. A cruel death for one so young, the baby and a more vicious death to an innocent "Crime" of ignorance. To overcome ignorance, the children of foreign parents, Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian come to Sri Lanka because it is cheaper than going to the UK, or America.Add to that the limitations on migration visa's, exclusionary exams, and funds to give them bed and board in the country of choice for further education and maybe, life. Did any of our local papers address Rhizana's death and caution all the women folk, and their parents in their own language of the pitfalls of sending their young to Arab countries where they could also become likely candidates for prostitution?
The system in most schools in Sri Lanka which enroll foreign students is to ask them to pay for a minimum of 8 subjects at Rs 30,000 per subject, immaterial of whether the child knows English or not. They then ask the children to pay for their school building funds, then activity assignments. The child can then apply to the Department of Immigration because the school has endorsed their being in school and the parent is also given a visa as a guardian. The current payment for any foreigner to stay for one year in this country is Rs 100,000. The foreign student does not realise that it would be cheaper to pay this sum than to pay an extended sentence in a school of 240,000 True the affluent foreigner can afford to pay these fees but they are not advised of the system whereby they do not have to pay for the school fees but could apply directly to the Department of Immigration for their visa, pay the 100,000 and stay in the country for whatever purpose, business or otherwise. The child could then have a choice of tutor or school, without the fear of being deported because they do not have a visa. Several tutors also profit off the ignorance of the child because the child has to go to private tutors for subjects which are part of their school year, i.e. Physics, Chemistry, Mathemtics, English EFL (English as a Foreign Language), Biology, etc. If the child goes to a college such as ACBT, or ANC, the minimum subjects needed to get a visa is three and costs Rs 90,000 per term. If you take one subject, you are not given a letter to the department of immigration, and you are also not given your guardian's letter if the child has a different name than the mother's. The latter is stupid based on the fact that most children take the family name of the father and if the mother is divorced, the mother is not given a visa because she bears a different name to that of the child. The foreign child does not have any knowledge of English, so their doing one subject to 8 is of minor consequence in terms of education, but financial consideration is viable for these schools. The student then does 8 subjects and gets "U" in all her subjects, which means that she cannot be promoted because she does not know English. So she pays for another year unless fate is kind, (me) and intervenes to tell her that the school itself has said "This child cannot be promoted". This too she cannot understand, unless an independent person advises her of her ignorance and most often the reports are not shown to an outsider.
The solution is to instruct all international schools across the board that the child can be admitted to do one subject, and that the school has to issue them with a letter to the Department of immigration for both the guardian and the mother. The Department of immigration can then charge these children the 100,000 for their visa and give them the right to live in Sri Lanka. One must also remember that the foreigners are at the mercy of very unscrupulous landlords who charge them phenomenal rentals merely because they are foreign. They also take advantage of the ignorance of the foreigner to retain pin money and key money which are refundable deposits but retained for some minor reason. If you require proof of this, I can give you 10 cases where even the British Council has failed in teaching children how to make sentences in the correct way. Proof is in their enrollment forms, and their subsequent books which were corrected by Me (a private tutor). The threat of no visa is one of the reasons why children are sent to international schools because these schools issue the student with letters to the department of immigration for both the guardian and the student. ACBT and ANC only issue visa letters to the children but do not provide letters for the parents. Foreign children should not be asked to contribute toward the school development and building fees.
As an aside, all these children were taught to read and write English in one month, at least to the level of understanding what their teachers say when spoken to, which is why I would like to introduce my system of teaching to the teachers, say in Kandy, where we can have a community who can understand the needs of a foreigner, without saying "Pencil" and put their hands out in supplication at every hotel and place of worship to maybe say in very good English "Can I have a pencil please!"