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Thursday, 2 February 2012

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Educational policy and employment

The government has arrived at the decision to take the necessary measures to encourage more secondary students into following the Science and Commerce streams of education, and none could question the soundness of the thinking behind this initiative. On the face of it, such moves could prove to be the long awaited antidote to the problem of educated unemployment. If youth unrest is to be effectively addressed, then, it is more employable youngsters that the country needs.

It is the problem of relevance which has been bedeviling higher education in particular in this country over the decades. While successive governments have been addressing their minds to this seemingly complex issue, very little or nothing has been done about it. Admittedly, this is a somewhat convoluted issue but it is not beyond resolving and we call on the government to be single-minded in its determination, on this occasion, to resolve the problem, at least to a degree.

There is much to recommend the government's project of establishing National Schools in all parts of the country, on an equitable basis. Just the other day, at a function held at ANCL, Education Minister Bandula Gunawardene, who graced the occasion as Chief Guest, spoke elaborately on the legendary C.W.W. Kannangara's much commended Central School system of yesteryear which did this country proud. The National School of the future, he said, would be modeled on the Father of Free Education's Central School which produced the brains which went on to keep the state system of Sri Lanka in such good trim. In fact, the ministers and state functionaries, both past and present, are numerous who hail from the country's Central School system.

Those who witnessed the Central School in operation in its heyday would vouch for the fact that this school system was second to none. Today, many an administrator, parent and elder complains bitterly about the quality of teaching in the English medium but in those times, the Central School could measure up to any of the more fancied metropolitan based schools with regard to English medium education. So, vibrant and qualitatively high were the Central Colleges.

Minister Gunawardene went on to explain that the Central School lacked none of the essentials that are today considered necessary for a broad-based liberal education. For instance, they possessed well-equipped laboratories and libraries which turned out scores of top quality scientists. Besides, they catered to both sexes and this enabled the student to 'face the challenges of the future' on the personal plane, the minister observed.

Therefore, it cannot be argued that this country lacks the educational expertise required to usher in an educational revival. What is needed is a systematic endeavour to put things right, with a strong sense of priorities. Hopefully, more and more monetary resources would be siphoned to the educational sector to enable these projects to bear fruit. We believe education should continue to be a top priority area in the country's development agenda.

It could be noticed that the majority of secondary students have opted to study Arts over the years. Is this tendency on account of a 'natural inability' on the part of the average Lankan student to pursue Science and Commerce based courses? This is an issue that needs to be addressed in an enlightened and informed manner.

Considering the innate potential of the human mind, it cannot be accepted that a 'natural inability' prevents the average local secondary student from pursuing Science and Commerce based educational courses successfully.

Rather, it is the lack of opportunity that has been preventing the student from opting for Science or Commerce, generally.

Over the years, the National or Central School concept has been allowed to slide off the consciousness of our educational and policy planners. Consequently, a great many provincial schools have been steadily deprived of the capability to cater to the full range of local educational needs.

This is a prominent factor in the inability of the average rural-based secondary school to produce Science and Commerce capable students. In the task of increasing the number of students pursuing Science and Commerce, these facts need to be borne in mind. We call on the state to go vigorously ahead with its island-wide National Schools project.

Can railway accidents be prevented?

Few months back it was reported that there had been a major train accident where a train had crashed into the observation saloon of another train, and the consequence of it had been disastrous. Apart from the financial loss incurred by the government, lives have been lost and many were injured including the driver and assistant of one of the trains.

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Socio-economic Scene

Conserving SLís Wetlands

February 2nd each year is World Wetlands Day, the anniversary of the February 2, 1971 signing of a Convention on Wetlands of International Importance at Ramsar, an Iranian town on the Caspian Sea. The aim of what has come to be known as the Ramsar Convention was Ďthe conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation,

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Economic development and creative leadership:

Work with integrity and succeed

All these programmes which I have mentioned above have social, research and technological content with substantial amount of opportunities for techno-managerial experts. Students can carve out their own niche areas and prepare themselves for contributing quality techno-managerial support which will enable execution of the economic programmes in time and at internationally competitive costs.

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