Namal Rajapaksa

MP Namal Rajapaksa incorrectly uses incorrect data on education


Today 560,000 sit the Ordinary Level examination. 340,000 sit the Advanced Level examination.

Mawbima | July 11, 2019



Fact Check

On 11 July 2019, Mawbima reported MP Rajapaksa making the above statement which claims with specific numbers that starting with 560,000 candidates sitting the G.C.E. (O.L) exam, only 28,000 (that is about 5%) succeed in gaining university entrance.

FactCheck evaluated both the specific numbers and the substance of the MP’s claim, using the latest data on performance at G.C.E. (O.L) and G.C.E. (A.L) exams from the Department of Examinations, and data on university admission from the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Exhibit 1 shows that the specific data quoted by the MP is incorrect on at least three counts: on the numbers (i) sitting for the G.C.E. (A.L) exam; (ii) passing the G.C.E. (A.L) exam; and (iii) entering university.

The substance of the MP’s claim is also incorrect, and not only because of the errors in the numbers that he uses. When quoting the number that sit the G.C.E. (O.L) exam, the MP’s data does not refer to the batch that sat the exam for the first time, but also includes those from previous batches who re-sat at least one subject. The number of school candidates that sat the G.C.E. (O.L) exam (five or more subjects) for the first time in 2018 was only 296,029. There were also 139,129 private candidates who sat the G.C.E. (O.L) in 2018, of which only 19,621 sat at least five or more subjects. However, the available data for private candidates does not specify whether or not they are sitting the exam for the first time. This means that the percentage of a typical G.C.E (O.L) batch of school candidates that will gain entrance to university is about 9.6% rather than the 5.0% that is claimed by the numbers put forward by the MP.

By using incorrect data and also using data incorrectly, the MP’s statement provides both incorrect information and an incorrect claim on the status of education progression in Sri Lanka. Therefore, we classify his statement as FALSE.

Exhibit 1: Performance of G.C.E Ordinary and Advanced Level Candidates (2016-2018)