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
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
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.
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
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.