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DateLine Thursday, 31 January 2008

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Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

A long-felt need

The decision by the Ministry of Child Development to open a hotline to receive complaints of child abuse is a long overdue move considering the rising spate of child abuse and exploitation that one comes across the newspapers almost on a daily basis.

Appropriately President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open the ‘Child helpline’ reflecting concern expressed by the highest in the land about the rising incidents of child abuse.

The public has been instructed to call the hotline regarding instances of child maltreatment, child exploitation, child labour etc. including cruelty against domestic help.

The National Child Protection Authority and a host of affiliated agencies are being tasked to deal with all such complaints. The move it is hoped will act as a deterrent to arrest the rising incidents of cruelty against children.

Complainants who are normally reluctant to go to the police fearing reprisals could now be unhampered by such constraints and report all instances of child abuse without exposing themselves to harm.

But much more needs to be done to address issues concerning children. Although it is compulsory that every child under the age of eleven should be given a schooling a large number of children are either pressed into domestic chores or forced to do menial jobs to keep home fires burning.

This is mostly seen in village areas where young children act as helpers to the elders. Street children are another issue that the Government should give serious thought to.

Most of these children are being exploited by criminal elements and are invariably sucked into a life of crime which can only exacerbated the current crime wave sweeping the country.

One also often comes across accounts of children falling prey to paedophiles. It appears that our younger generation is increasingly losing the innocence of childhood and forced into a degenerate existence due to poverty and want.

The Child Protection Authority instead of being merely an agency that acts on complaints should play a more pro-active role to seek out children who have gone astray and rehabilitate them before the issue becomes a social problem to add to the plethora of existing problems confronting the country.

That children are a country’s treasure is a much worn cliche but is enough being done to ensure that the country’s younger generation are given proper guidance and steered on the right path.

The authorities should open their eyes to the plight of child castaways and meaningful steps taken to absorb them to society before it is too late to redeem them from the vicious grip they are held in.

IT education

The decision by the Education Ministry to introduce Information and Communication technology as a subject for the Advanced Level from next year is a timely move given new trends in a fast developing world.

The country urgently needs to catch up with new frontiers of knowledge opened up though the information super highway, if we are to make any headway in the unfolding scenario.

Since Sri Lanka is no longer referred as a ‘Developing Country’ and is placed in the category of ‘Middle income Country’ status based on our Per Capita Income we can no longer afford to lag behind the developed nations.

Therefore it is vital that we cultivate a modern outlook if we are to successfully integrate into the global village and familiarity with communication technology cannot be overemphasised is such an milieu.

The Government realising the importance of IT knowledge has already set up the groundwork to popularise the subject and bring our youth up to date with emerging trends.

The introduction of the IT in the Advanced Level curriculum will make this an established subject that would go a long way to create a vast reservoir of youth adept at IT knowledge. It would have an immense impact on the country that has embarked on mega development projects.

The Government would certainly be able to draw from this vast pool of talent to help in this development drive instead of having to rely on Foreign expertise.

The introduction of IT as a subject in the field of tertiary education also represents a sea change in our education system which had hitherto coasted on a path which had no relevance to the present day demands.

Although it has been our proud boast that Sri Lanka has the second highest literacy rate in Asia (Japan leading) this has always been strictly in a ‘literacy’ sense with no skills development to cater to job demands.

It is in this context that the present move to groom our youth in IT skills should be viewed. The problem the Government is going to face of course will be in the recruitment of competent teachers and instructors in such vast numbers to cater to all schools in the island.

Have we got the necessary resources to meet this challenge ? Do we have the necessary infrastructure in the schools in the backward areas ?

This is where the Education Ministry has to act speedily to fulfil this requirement if the project is to achieve success.

Limits of the news

A telling episode recalled by harassed journalists is of an American reporter covering the forced withdrawal of Belgium from the then Belgian Congo. Upon landing at Lusaka Airport, he saw a group of white women waiting to be evacuated and rushed over to them with the classic question: “Has anyone here been raped, and speaks English?”

Full Story

The great debate on the solution

Since the LTTE has no de-jure political power to Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts the Government of Sri Lanka has the right to over power the LTTE by its forces and regain the de-facto political power too in these two districts. It is not possible for the Government to give a ‘political solution’ to these two districts before it restores its writ, because the Government cannot possibly give what it doesn’t have.

Full Story

The irresistible exuberance of Benazir Bhutto

BENAZIR BHUTTO came up to Oxford in October 1973, at the beginning of the Michaelmas term of that academic year. She was initially expected to stay just two years, as she already had a degree from Harvard and was therefore exempt from the first year Preliminary Exam for a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

Full Story


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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