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DateLine Thursday, 12 June 2008

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Degrading a noble profession

Teaching has been hailed as a noble profession whose practitioners down the ages have been held in awe and reverence. Still in the villages the home of the gurunnanse is a pivotal centre where people gather for advice and counsel. The respect and reverence shown to teachers have been part of our culture.

It is in this context that one should view the decision taken by our teachers to stage a sick note campaign demanding a raise in their salaries thus divesting them of the slough of respect and adulation of the ordinary folk.

Nay, they have placed themselves on par with the ordinary, raucous trade union fraternity who resort to sabotage and threats to win their demands.

True teachers have their grievances. We believe the Government should drew up a comprehensive plan to reward and recognise the ordeal and sacrifice made by our teaching fraternity to produce good and productive citizens to the country.

But the stand taken by teachers to go on strike to win their demand is a course of action which could have been deemed sacrilegious in the not too distant past. How would their action impact on the impressional minds which they are tasked to guide to be exemplary citizens ?

Therefore the best course of action would be to sort out their problems through the usual channels of negotiations. It would a paradox for the entire teaching fraternity to be seen as yet another bunch of trade union activists who would stop at nothing to win their demands.

It behoves on our teachers to present themselves as shining examples of discipline and morality that would shape the minds of our future generations. They can make a difference in society. As a British advertising campaign put it sometime back, 'Those who can, Teach'.


A worthy example

Amidst the rising rate of alcoholism and drug abuse which is threatening to tear apart the moral fabric of Lankan society even a small effort to arrest this dangerous trend should be welcomed and appreciated.

A story in our inside pages yesterday focused on one such effort by a voluntary organisation which had succeeded in weaning away a large number of persons from the drug habit.

Guided by the Chief incumbent of the Gomadiyagala temple this organisation had been active in several villages in Polpithigama.

It has succeed in reforming drug addicts in 230 families in the village of Gomadiyagala alone. This shows the extent to which drug addition has taken hold in far flung villages.

The Gomadiyagala Thisarana Sandeshiya is assisted in their mission by the Civil Defence Committee and the Dhamma school children in the area. More such initiatives are needed if we are to make even a slight dent in the drug problem that is assuming serious proportions in the country.

The success in this mission shows the influence religious leaders could wield in fighting evil in society. Time was when the village temple functioned as an oracle and with villagers following instructions emanating therein with unquestioning obedience.

The temperance movement which was spearheaded by the Bhikkus made a lasting impact that helped wean many an imbiber from liquor addiction. This was also a time when the country was awash with spirituality and a Buddhist revival where the large majority lived by the precepts of the Enlightened One.

But with mammon taking precedence in today's rat race for existence the voice of religions leaders have been drowned in the cacophony of the market place allowing evil to thrive. It is therefore encouraging to see signs of a revisit to the past where the Temple formed the fountain of advice and counselling and wielded immense influence on the lives of the people.

The Government too should grasp at this opportunity to harness this influence of the village temple to arrest the moral decline we see around us today, especially at a time the President is earnestly pursing the Mathata Thitha campaign to fight the drug menace and alcoholism.

One only hopes that this example of the Ven. Thera would be emulated by other members of the Sangha and clergy of other religions elsewhere in the country.

This is also an ideal opportunity to reawaken the spirituality among the people that had been consumed by unbridled commercialism and other attractions. A cure attained through the medium of spirituality is known to have a permanent effect than one through medical therapy.

In this respect there are also drug rehabilitation centres run by Christian clergy within their parishes where fruitful work is being done. Such projects too should receive the support and assistance of the Government. What ultimately matters is eradicating the drug menace from our society and the return of the addicts to a normal, productive life.

A people's mandate for democracy over terrorism in the East

Excerpts from the address by Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at Carlton Club, London on June 9.  I do not need to tell you how democratic processes work. But I can assure you that the Government is not pursuing a military solution to address the grievances of our people, but yes, it is using the military to root out terrorism.

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Today is World Day Against Child Labour:

National education policy, need of the hour

Champika Dilrukshi

When compared within the Asian region, Sri Lanka has creditable achievements in aspects of education such as school enrolment, literacy and gender equity. However, the country faced with increasing levels of poverty due to the rising cost of living has a war to wage. The war against child labour.

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Chikungunya hits nation once again

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an alphavirus indigenous to tropical Africa and Asia, where it is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes, usually of the genus Aedes. Chikungunya (CHIK) fever, the disease caused by CHIKV, was first recognized in epidemic form in East Africa during 1952-1953.

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