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The four A/L stars

HARSHA: Maintains balance between studies and extra curricular activities.

Harsha Dissanayake, 19, of Nalanda College, Colombo excelled in Bio Science becoming island first at the G.C.E. A levels this year. Harsha did not concentrate only on studies during his school years but also participated in various activities in school.

Harsha Dissanayaka

Rasanga Perera

"Mainly I enjoy reading books. Apart from that, I watch television and I am interested in cricket and football matches. I watch them whenever I get the chance," said Harsha talking about his hobbies.

He was involved in table tennis and has won colours. "I continued to play table tennis even though I had to study. I was also a member of the junior band and was a cub scout from 1995 -1999," Harsha said talking about his school days.

"Being the Western Music Association Secretary gave me a lot of experience. I was the leader of the science quiz team and I held this post during my A/Ls also," he said.

Harsha never expected to become island first. All he wanted was to get enough marks to enter the Medical College. His hard work and determination brought him what he deserved.

"I am happy about what I have achieved. I maintained a balance between studies and extra curricular activities," he said.

Manudha Herath



Harsha's parents are both doctors and paved the way for their only child to follow their footsteps. "They were my biggest support. They bought me all the books and clarified any doubts that I had. My teachers also helped me a lot to achieve this standard," Harsha said with gratitude. Harsha has a great task ahead of him. He is eagerly waiting to go to Medical College. He added that he would restart playing table tennis.

RASANGA: Loves reading books and watching movies

Rasanga Waliwatthe Perera, 19, is another Nalandian who showed his colours becoming the top of the commerce stream. Rasanga was also involved in extra curricular activities in school and has held many posts, which enriched his life.

"I was in the junior band and was the President of the Buddhist Association. I was also the Assistant Secretary of the Commerce Society. All these posts gave me new experiences and I enjoyed taking part in other activities," Rasanga explained.

Rasanga loves to read books and watch movies. "They are my hobbies. I didn't expect to be island first but I did expect good results, as I wanted to enter the university. I am delighted that I was able to achieve more than that," he said joyfully.

Rasanga is the eldest in the family. His brother is studying in the commerce stream at Nalanda College while his sister is a student of Visakha Vidyalaya. "I help my brother in his studies as he is taking up the same subjects," Rasanga said.

Rasanga is at present preparing for the CIMA examination which will be in November. He hopes to enter university and do higher studies to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a Manager. Besides his studies Rasanga enjoys playing tennis.

MANUDHA: Worked according to a timetable.

Manudha Herath, 18, of Royal College, Colombo showed his talent by becoming island first in the Mathematics stream. Manudha delighted at his achievement says that it wasn't difficult as he worked according to a timetable. Manudha still serves his school as a prefect.

"I enjoy playing cricket and badminton. I listen to music in my leisure," Manudha said. Manudha has been a Cub Scout and a President's Scout. He has also served as an instructor.

"I played chess in school and won medals. The most important thing was winning four gold medals at the National School Championships. In 2003 and 2004 I won school colours and I've won provincial colours too," Manudha said about his victorious moments.

He has participated in quizzes being in the Mathematics Society.

" My parents supported me in achieving this. I had no responsibility at home. I only had to concentrate on my studies," Manudha explained.

Manudha has an elder sister who is studying management in Australia. He did not forget to mention about his pet dog Terry. He is planning to be an automobile engineer in the future.

MADHAWEE: Parents were against decision to follow studies in Arts.

Madhawee Nishaminee Fernando, 19, is the student from Girl's High School, Kandy who became the Island first in the Arts stream. She is from a family of four. Both her parents are engineers while her brother is a student at Kingswood College, Kandy.

Madhawee had followed English, French and Economics for her Advanced Levels. She said both her parents and teachers had been against her decision to follow her studies in Arts. Finally, she had succeeded in winning their consent.

"I did not calculate the number of hours I worked. I had a work plan. Though there were some days that I hardly spared time to study, I always stuck by my work plan," she said.

Madhawee had been an active student in the school's aesthetic activities. She had engaged in creative writing and had taken part in English Day competitions and oratory. She had been the leader of the school's debating team and the secretary of the Interact Club. She had played netball but did not have the passion to pursue it.

Does she think tuition classes benefit students in their studies?

"Yes, they were an aid to me in facing the competitiveness of the exam," she replied.

And what does she feel about her achievement?

"To tell you the truth, I was feeling drowsy and was asleep when the results were released on the internet. It was my mother who gave me the news. I was stunned and could not believe that it was actually me,!" she giggled.

Madhawee's interests are reading poetry, watching Hindi movies, and listening to songs. She loves to read English novels.

Madhawee prefers English novels to Sinhalese ones because she finds that most Sinhala novels are naive and lack variety. Her favourite novel at the moment is Harper Lee's To kill a Mockingbird.

Queried on how she prepared for the paper on general knowledge, Madhawee confessed that it was the paper she was least prepared for. She plans to obtain a degree in English, study law and international relations. She expresses her gratitude to all her teachers at school who helped her achieve success.

Tuition classes - do we need them?

In a school, students learn the subject matter through their teachers, who train them for examinations, give exercises to practise and conduct monthly and term-end examinations to judge the standards of their students. After analysing we can see that the tutors repeat the role of the school teacher in the afternoon.

If a student is weak in studies or cannot understand what the school teacher had taught, it is acceptable that he or she should follow tuition classes to maintain the required educational standards. But, ask yourselves, whether it is the reality?

Every afternoon, we see hundreds of school children hurrying for their tuition classes; most in their uniforms. Are all of us so incapable? Tuition being the trend, students crawl to their classes perhaps unwillingly. After six hours in school though there is a break in the middle - children have to work somemore at a stretch, afterschool to fulfil their satisfaction, as well as their parents'.

Some may argue that listening to a lecture on the same topic for a second time would help the children to understand and remember. But, when the brain is too tired, it does not function properly. Therefore, only 50 per cent or less of what is being taught is taken by the brain.

When children attend many extra classes, they do not have time to spend self-studying and at times to do their home work. In addition, children would not have spare time to devote to their leisure activities which would help them to get rid of stress amidst all serious work. Moreover, those who do extra-curricular activities, will have to struggle in that field, which will not, at all help them relax.

Going deeper into the subject, we see that tuition has now become a mere fashion.

I fully agree, depending on the increasing demand and competitiveness, children have no option other than seeking for help from a tutor. However, this will only affect those who are to sit for Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations - some may even include the grade five scholarship examination.

My question is, why do the rest go for tuition? Nowadays there is a rapid increase in the number of small children attending tuition classes.

Besides, there is nobody to stand against this and bring up alternatives to find a solution for this serious problem.

With time, the mind would adapt to the new routine and like to study. This would help the young generation in their higher education in the future since self-studying plays an important role in life once they leave school.

Next, if there are any doubts, simply refer a book, consult the subject teacher or speak to a friend for clarifications; perhaps an explanation from a senior student would have a good effect.

Then teachers too will have to work harder, because there will be no tutors to help students to get outstanding results which will bring credit to them, and the teachers will have to work to make their achievements.

Certainly, there should be a complete change and it is us who will have to take the turn. If there is no one to change this trend, it will continue for ever. So, we must try hard ourselves to study on our own, help each other, which would eventually make teachers help us a lot more than it is now. We must not forget that there are teachers who are always willing to help their students.

There would be a better effect of self-studying rather than sitting in front of a black or a white board and listening to the tutor. So, lets be courageous, help each other and win the race. Eventually this would certainly play a major role in trying to build a better world.



Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Sri Lanka

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