Friday, 9 January 2004  
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Do not close schools

The recent news item that 500 schools are to be closed is shocking indeed. Apparently any school with less than 150 children are to be closed. Assuming these have at least 100 children each, we are looking at closing down the education facilities for at least 50,000 children.

Is it fair? They have to find alternate schools, probably travelling far by bus and train. Every child should have equal rights - all must be provided with education practically at their doorsteps. Some should not be forced to trek miles while others enjoy better facilities. After all, what do the authorities expect out of closing of these schools - better business somewhere else?

Besides the obvious fact that these schools have been neglected by the authorities, the other major reason for the downward trend of many schools is the Grade 5 Scholarship Exams. This exam removes the cream of the school to other affluent schools - at great expense to the parents - both mentally and financially. Look at what's happening to our country - we are taking this Grade 5 Exam so seriously that recently some numbskull organised a seminar for Grade 5 students!

Just imagine what we are pushing our children to be - give up their childhood altogether and attend seminars at the tender age of 10! And how the scandal of Grade 5 exam papers being leaked - the adults teaching these children at their most impressionable age, that getting what you want by hook or by crook is THE thing to do!

Do we call ourselves an educated lot or what?

Is it so difficult for the authorities to realize as the population is expanding, as the educational needs are expanding, we must be opening more schools rather than closing them down? That one must look into the reasons why the number of children in these schools is so low? Actually they need not look further than their noses to find the cause - for the cause is nothing else but themselves!

We have to stop the closure of these schools. If they are closed, the buildings will either be taken over by other departments or more likely, they will be neglected, become dilapidated or will be used for various nefarious activities. It is up to every village to resist closure of even one school and persuade the authorities to develop them. Citizens, you won't get a better time to get your demands, it's election time - so get going!

DR. MAREENA THAHA REFFAI, 
Dehiwela

Errors in certificates awarded to students

We are really at a loss to understand how a University, that too, one of the oldest and the best known in Sri Lanka, could be so utterly careless in not having corrected an error in the Certificates awarded to students at the convocation held at Peradeniya.

These Certificates are the most treasured possessions of the holders of recognized degrees. The holders of these Certificates prominently display them beautifully framed on the walls of their houses, rooms and in places where they carry on their practice.

If grammatical or printing errors were pointed out to them, how badly it would hurt them, could be just imagined. Would it not cause them insult and humiliation and would they not be compelled to admit the utter negligence or even the ignorance and incompetency of the authorities concerned?

May I, please be permitted to draw the kind attention of the authorities of the Peradeniya University, the errors in the Certificates awarded to the successful students.

The erroneous sentence as anybody with a basic knowledge in grammar could see, has been duly underlined in the sentence where the errors are.

It should be corrected to read as:

"Is awarded this Certificate at the Convocation held in Peradeniya on Twenty Third December, 2002".

(Was awarded this certificate at the Convocation holden in Peradeniya on Twenty Third December, 2002)

It is our sincere hope and trust that the university concerned will avoid such silly mistakes in so worthy and valuable documents pertaining to the educational qualifications of the students. If these certificates are produced or presented at an interview in a foreign country, what would they think about our universities? Who could be held responsible for the errors and blunders in the certificates already awarded?

Let justice be done to the holders of these Certificates.

T.P. Paul, 
Eheliyagoda

Businessmen, politicians and consultants

The initiative taken by business leaders to summon party conferences and put forward their suggestions and proposals to the political leaders with a view to resolving the national question the ongoing ethnic conflict and some other issues - is on its face value, praiseworthy and merits attention and consideration of all concerned.

Most of our business barons mercantile moguls, captains of industry and other trade magnates had all along been content with amassing wealth-channelling all their resources, wits and business acumen through relentless sales propaganda in every conceivable glitzy - customer-attractive manner and means. After keeping a low profile in the sphere of national objectives either intentionally or disinterestedly they seem to have now risen to the occasion to offer advice and guide-lines to politicians for the purpose of maintaining peace and stability in the country at large and by that very means safeguard their own interests and business achievements.

All these years the business leaders have been watching in silence the various foibles, follies, adventures, misadventures, manipulations and manoeuvres of the government in power. Having contributed in some measures their own share to such follies they seem to have now come forward to offer directions to those who run the government not so much on a sales pitch - formula but on an apparent service-oriented national objective.

Some of our intellectuals, professionals and consultants have been trying to veer the politicians and their hierarchy from the nationally destructive mismanagement highway to tread a politically acceptable correct path with a steadfast and resolute policy of good governance, for the betterment of all concerned, but their efforts had failed miserably - may be because those who run the establishment are not that advanced in intellect and clear perception or are not genuine in people-friendly service aspirations.

The government leaders and the opposition leaders should wholeheartedly give up their arrogant uncompromising attitudes inclusive of some of their foul-mouthed utterances and also put a stop to their narrow political bickerings with a view to adopting a truly national perspective to safeguard the nation from further devastation.

R. M. A. B. Dassanayake, 
Matale

Public Service Commission and discipline

It is news that a public servant involved in aiding and abetting the murder of a colleague, and interdicted from service, has been reinstated by the Public Service Commission even without a departmental disciplinary inquiry being held against him.

That the officer turned traitor to his co-perpetrators of the crime and became a crown witness is no ground to pardon him for the crime committed, departmentally. This appears to be just another case where the PSC had been a rubber stamp in regard to the recommendation made by the Head of Department. A shameless situation no doubt.

I recently read in a daily of a case of a Head of Department trying to 'fix' a clerk over a case of wrong award of a tender amounting to millions of rupees for which he is one of those responsible and in respect of which even the Supreme Court had given an order against the tender award. The investigations had been partial towards the Head of Department.

Though representations have been made to the PSC, the body has not moved into the matter. If this is how the PSC acts there is no use of having the PSC.

L. S. de Silva, 
Dehiwala

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