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Principles and principals

According to Daily News the Kingswood Principal had taken up the position that the singularity of the incorrect admission he had made to his college did not warrant the plurality of the punishment meted to him.

The Ananda Principal had permitted his school's children to fight on his behalf against authority by doing demonstrations in his favour.

Both have behaved or responded in violation and in the interdiction of governing principles that:

(a) Wrong is wrong regardless of number of wrongs.

(b) It is unprincipled to harness student under his tutelage to fight for him in a charge on which the onus is on him to clear himself.

In this country Principals and Principles seem to be unprincipled.

School admissions : Close the back doors

I wish to congratulate the President and the officials of the Ministry of Education for taking the bold decision to check on school admissions. Schools are the centres where the fabric of the future society is woven. When children are taught to lie and cheat from their kindergarten days what can one expect from the future generations in this country?

When those rich and in high places buy their way into leading National schools won't that create social unrest in the country as genuine applicants are overlooked?

I believe that this work should continue and weed out all those who are corrupt including principals, other school officials, members of the Past Pupils' Associations, School Development Societies etc.

It is a known fact that in some instances hundreds of thousands of rupees are solicited for illegal admissions, and sometimes the principals themselves give the addresses which could be used. Talking about protests one can see why they are protesting: They are all worried about their necks as all those who protest shedding crocodile tears are also involved in these rackets.

They have no right to instigate schoolchildren, so that they can cover up their sins and laws should be brought in to prevent such occurrences in the future.

Reconstruction of schools

We should thank the UNICEF for undertaking to become an active participant of the rehabilitation process in Sri Lanka to bring back normalcy to the field of education.

At present, children in the tsunami-affected areas are handicapped due to lack of school buildings and facilities and therefore unable to re-commence their education. However, one blaring point of consideration is the lopsided proportion in the numbers that UNICEF has undertaken to fund.

Of the 17 schools undertaken, 14 are in the North and East while only three are in the South. Could this be due to an oversight or is it really an intentional calculation on the part of the UNICEF to show their bias towards the South? Being an arm of the UN one would expect UNICEF to act impartially towards all areas of Sri Lanka but the numbers indicate that there is a serious lapse in the decision-making of this organization.

It is a well-known fact that Southern coastal belt has a large number of affected schools which need desperate repairs, reconstruction work - not just three.

Speculation that UNICEF has shown they were biased seems to be proven when one compares the proportions between the South as against the North and East which they have undertaken.

Let us hope that there will be serious re-consideration on the part of UNICEF to rectify this lapse as a gesture of goodwill as well as an exhibition of impartiality in their actions.

Those who make the decisions in organizations such as UNICEF/UN/USAID need to consider Sri Lanka as an independent unitary state and show their sincerity and goodwill by being impartial and just.

Ibn Batuta

I read with interest the article on Ibn Batuta (DN Apr. 30).

The writer says Ibn Batuta landed in the north western coast of Sri Lanka. Incidentally Vijaya and his band of followers also landed in the north western coast of Sri Lanka.

The strong monsoon winds have been the cause of the sailing ships drifting to north western coast. The stretch between Puttalam and Mannar called the Old Mannar Road is termed the Pomparippu Road from ancient times. Tammanna where the sandy soil is of a yellowish-gold shade is the stretch where both Vijaya and Ibn Batuta landed according to legend.

Puttalam derives its name from the old Puta Harams of the place where Vijaya left Kuveni and the two children. Even today at Kuveni Kanda one of the rocks that adorn the coastal belt from Puttalam to Mannar one could hear the cries of Kuveni lamenting her curses on Vijaya's betrayal. Incidentally the north western province is called the historic Wayamba, which we are all proud of.

Sunil Shantha

Ref. letter of April 19 Sunil Shantha was and is still the greatest Sinhala musician who lived in Sri Lanka. His music was heavenly and his voice truly Sinhala, but the squalid treatment he was given by the jealous officials and others too who were at the top rungs of SLBC whom to say the least, were despicable enemies of the country.

With W. D. Albert Perera (Ameradeva) who accompanied him on the violin the entire island of Sri Lanka was lulled with the lilting music. Even now it is not too late to honour Visarada Sunil Shantha with a posthumous doctorate in music.

SLBC should play Sunil Shantha's music at least every Sunday, in the evenings, at least for 15 minutes, so that our youth will hear the music and appreciate it and know that Sri Lanka had the greatest Sinhala musician by the name of Sunil Shantha.

Grade I school admission

The Grade I school admission bubble has burst. It has exploded volcanic like with the interdiction of several school principals. It should be considered that for each irregular admission to a school there could be four possible versions. There would be the principals version, the version of the parents who are alleged to have obtained irregular admissions, the parents who have failed to get their children admitted and ultimately the correct version.

Of these versions the first three are bound to be prejudicial. What the inquiry and the proceedings thereafter will seek to achieve is the correct version in relation to each and every irregular admission.

Following the initial inquiry it appears the cases have come under judicial scrutiny. Irregularities in admission have surfaced in many aspects. One particular was the aspect of forged documents. It is in most instances not possible to assess whether a document is forged or not. There are so many who have mastered the art of forgery with so many illicit kachcheris around it will be formidable to stamp out this menace.

Having said that a principal of a school is not trained to be an expert on forged documents nor is he competent enough to detect one such document. Hence matters of forgery if suspected should be forwarded to the Examiner of Questioned Documents (EQD). These are procedures that need be adopted to detect irregularities.

We next observe demonstrations by parents, old boys, well wishers and students both within and outside the school. Some resorted to performing acrobatics holding up traffic. Can any of these demonstrators say with conviction that the respective principals were free of blame? It is most unlikely. What one observes is the herd instinct like the many political slogan shouting processions.

It is a pity that children within the school gates were involved in this exercise. One wonders whether their response was spontaneous or by instigation. It is reported that the vehicle of one acting principal was damaged by the students. The elders who were demonstrating should have a restraining influence on their charges and prevent the schools from being transformed into veritable blackboard jungles.

As regards the interdiction per se it is a rule in the public service that officers under scrutiny for offences are temporarily moved out of their posts to prevent them influencing persons involved in the case as witnesses etc. If there is fraud it is not only the principals but also the alleged parents who have submitted falsified documents are equally to blame.

It must be said that whatever the performance of these school heads if they are found wanting appropriate action needs be taken by the authorities. Failure to do so will only undermine the process of inquiry and aggravate indiscipline.

Kandy lake and sewerage scheme

Several letters have appeared in the past about the Kandy Lake and recently under the caption 'Will the milk sea become a filthy sea?'.

The addendum complements this with the state of the Meda Ela into which the overflow from the lake and the storm water, now also polluted, from barrel drains laid under ground falls into the Meda Ela.

This water was at one time fit for domestic use and now as mentioned in the letters under reference, is polluted much more than the Lake, with garbage from market and fish stalls; the faecal matter of children and garbage from the houses close by; the blood, urine and excreta from cattle slaughter in the abattoir close by; linen from the wards of the General Hospital with those of the TB wards washed in it, signalling potential health hazard and the writer therefore calls for early attention to remedy this situation. This, we are afraid, cannot be accomplished without a sewerage scheme for this fast growing city which is one of main causes for the pollution of the Lake and Meda Ela.

With regard to the former a letter I wrote to the press which appeared in the Daily News as far back as December 2003 is pertinent in this connection. I therefore, wish to quote a part of it "the neglect of the authorities to have a sewerage scheme for the city considering particularly the congested town where the bucket latrines were replaced by private drainage systems with septic tanks and soakage pits situated check by jowl with the neighbours causing a potential health hazard." This will happen in case of sudden break down or overflow.

It should now be clear that there is now an urgent need to implement a sewerage scheme without delay not only to minimize the pollution of the Kandy Lake and Meda Ela; but also to prevent a major outbreak of disease in Kandy.

Remembering Chelvanayagam

Irrespective of caste and creed the Tamil masses respected and honoured Vellupillai Chelvanayagam. As they thought that he was their only saviour, he gained much respect from everyone till death.

Samuel James Vellupillai Chelvanayagam was referred to as 'SJV' or 'Chella'. Born on March 31, 1895 he was a lawyer by profession.

If the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact materialised we would not be faced with a civil war today. People who organized the protest march against this are responsible for the situation in the country today. From 1960 March up to 1977 election, Chella won all the elections with a large majority.

It is not an understatement if we say that he was the compassionate leader of the Tamils.

The LTTE was formed during this period. If he had lived for another few years he would have pursued the LTTE to go forward in a peaceful manner to achieve their objectives.

On April 26, 1977 this humble man closed his eyes for ever.

Exemplary

President Chandrika Kumaratunga who read a New Year message in Tamil Language fluently over the 'EYE' channel on 14.04.2005 on television and radio was excellent in her pronunciation out of all previous Presidents in the history of Sri Lanka.

They also had tried and made on number of occasions over the Electronic Media this type of speeches, but the command of voice and action in Tamil not like Chandrika.

I appreciate her talent and courage being a Buddhist to learn Tamil and to read at least to this extent is an example to others.

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