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Wednesday, 7 December 2011






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Government Gazette

The need for permanent policies

If the state is seeing the importance of having permanent policies in areas that touch the lives of the people most crucially, this has to be wholeheartedly welcomed. This is, indeed, a crying need. For far too long, policies on crucial areas of public life have been made to depend on political considerations and expedience and this has proved very costly from the viewpoint of the common interest. However, permanent policies would prove very pivotal in the task of giving definite direction and drive to state action and decision-making on questions that matter crucially to the public.

Education is a sector that has suffered tremendously as a result of policies changing drastically with every change of government. So notorious has this country been for such unpredictability in policy direction in the field of education that policy perspectives have changed in accordance with even leadership changes within ruling parties and coalitions which have enjoyed prolonged spells of governance. Impermanence has been a chief characteristic of state policy in regard to education, inasmuch as the same has happened with regard to policies in other significant areas of public life.

Now we are informed by Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena that all this will change. He told Parliament recently that a new Education Act would soon be in place and this would not be framed on the basis of political considerations and other external factors which have no bearing on the theoretical substance of educational policy.

This is very good news and we call on the authorities to remain true to this commitment of having permanent policies in important sectors. Permanent policies should apply to not only education but other areas of relevance to the national well being too.

However, it would be fair to say that educational policy has suffered most from governmental experimentation. It would also be no exaggeration to state that our primary and secondary students in particular have been reduced to the pathetic condition of Guinea Pigs as a result of such ad hocism in educational policy. Governments have pursued this disastrous course in education primarily with their narrow aims in view but it is the students who have suffered most grievously as a result of it.

There seems to be a gathering consensus now that education at primary and secondary levels is more an agonizing burden than a source of empowerment for the student. No less a person than President Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken keen cognizance of these issues.

Recently he spoke of the gruelling challenge posed to students by text books which are difficult to read and understand, besides being very lengthy and unwieldy. He also drew attention to examinations which put students through tremendous mental stress and agony.

Accordingly, every effort must be made to render education more a pleasurable than a traumatic experience. This consideration should be one of the cornerstones of local educational policy and we hope it would prove a permanent cornerstone.

The country is in need of perfectly healthy individuals and this needs to be the guiding goal of Sri Lanka's educational policy.

The consideration that policies must be permanent or longstanding needs to guide policy-making in other spheres too. For instance, our economic policy needs to take into consideration that ours is a predominantly agricultural economy and that principal importance should be attached to continuously developing this sector while not neglecting other areas of the economy.

Political or other considerations, therefore, should not lead to a downplaying of the agricultural sector. We are not contending that this happening but a wrong sense of priorities may lead to it.

Likewise, in the case of industrial policy and its implications for national development. It should have dawned on all relevant sections of opinion that industrial development should be premised on us making maximum use of local raw material for the sector's advancement. This should be elevated to the status of a permanent policy. The end result of this policy would be more national self-sufficiency.

Accordingly, we can no longer dabble in policy, so to speak. A bedrock of permanent policies should be formed that would put the country on a stable, unchanging path of self-sustaining development.

Education, democracy and human rights

The Chinese Philosopher, Confucius, once said, “If your strategy for the future is for one year then cultivate paddy. If your strategy is for ten years then grow trees. If your future strategy is for 100 years then what you must invest in is education”.

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‘Be a vegetarian, to live within your means and be healthy’

It takes a little planning once you have set your mind to becoming a vegetarian. There is nothing too complicated to deal with but there are some important things to remember to ensure that the transition goes smoothly. These days life is a lot simpler to have a vegetarian diet plan so that you have a healthy, nutritious and exciting diet. Vegetarian diet plans do not need to be tasteless.

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