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Year One admissions poser

Year One admissions, a tormenting issue for most young parents, is at last being dealt with systematically by the State and the relevant agencies. The National Education Commission, for instance, has just handed over its recommendations to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on this controversial subject.

Prior to touching on the issue of Year One admissions per se, we believe it is relevant to dwell on some background questions which relate closely to it.

As we see it, the scramble for admissions to a few so-called good schools, which are mainly urban based, has its roots in the continuing lack of good educational opportunities islandwide.

An explicit objective of the Free Education scheme, over which many a fine thing is said, is the provision of educational opportunities for all in this country, whether big or small.

We certainly do offer even a semblance of opportunity to all to pursue a primary and secondary education but the problem that has bedevilled this country is that some schools in the system have been better endowed than others, particularly in the case of urban based schools. Consequently, a few schools have been upgraded over others and are considered the topmost institutions in the system.

Accordingly, there is a frenzy among parents to have their children admitted to these “chosen few” among schools.

They could not be judged harshly on this score because the human tendency is to seek out what is considered best for one’s children.

Therefore, on the face of it, what needs to be done is to steadily upgrade our schools, wherever they may be, to the position of schools which could meet the necessary educational standards set for primary and secondary schools.

Ideally, every Divisional Secretariat area needs to be endowed with a fully upgraded school, so that parents would not be compelled to join the rat race for “prestigious” urban-based schools.

Why cannot this be done? Why cannot the regional and even Divisional Secretariat-level imbalances in the provision of educational resources and infrastructure be steadily bridged?

If these tasks are met, we are certain that the scramble would not be so great and ugly for a few “good schools”.

On the question of Year One admissions, we urge that equitable rules and regulations be evolved to meet the challenges.

There needs to be strictly enforced the ‘area rule’, for example, that ensures that students of a particular area and neighbourhood need not travel for miles and miles, to meet their educational needs.

The need is also paramount to recognise merit in the admission of students. Those who fare well at public examinations need to be always provided an opportunity to learn.

World Refugee Day : Right to respect and dignity

Today we are facing what may prove to be one of the greatest challenges of the century. Almost 40 million people worldwide have been uprooted and forced to flee violence and persecution. The future is likely to see increasing numbers of people on the move.

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Community participation in development

Training in Community Development is very important if the real objectives of these development programmes are to be achieved, and to see that the people use the facilities thus provided and also sustain them as they contribute towards their own development.

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Inculcate moral values

More active participation of the clergy is a vital need. The monks in the temples should not confine themselves to compulsory religious activities only, but venture out into the village visiting the households of the Dayakas or lay benefactors. Even in Daham pasalas in temples undue stress is given to passing exams rather than inculcating moral values.

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