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Tuesday, 16 October 2012






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Tertiary education and national progress

There is this appalling but thought-provoking statistic that only a mere five percent of our student population is engaged in tertiary education. This was revealed by a speaker at the EDEX Educational Expo fair which was launched in Colombo a couple of days back and we hope much thought will be given to this disclosure by particularly those hot heads who are up in arms against well meaning measures by the state and other sections to open more opportunities in higher and tertiary education for our youth.

What is more unsettling is the news that Sri Lanka is the lowest in the South Asian region from the viewpoint of students’ engagement in tertiary education.

Unfortunately, this unflattering disclosure did not figure in the debates which were surfaced by the recent closure of local universities, occasioned by the university Dons’ strike. The state side has always been at pains to point out that more and more higher and tertiary education avenues should be ushered for our students, in consideration of the minuscule number of students who are absorbed into our formal university system.

This is a valid point of view and we urge that a pragmatic attitude be adopted on this question. The issue of creating an increasing number of opportunities in the higher education sphere, in particular, should be approached in an impartial and objective manner and the tendency to see the problem through outmoded ideological blinkers needs to be abandoned.

It would be commonsensical for the state to prepare the ground and to establish the preconditions for the establishment of tertiary level institutions and like seats of learning that will satisfy this country’s needs in national development, while subjecting themselves to the supervisory and quality control measures of the state. If the latter conditions are scrupulously met, it does not make sense to oppose, for example, degree-awarding privately-owned higher education institutions.

Now that our state universities are getting back to their formal functions, following the prolonged paralysis they were subjected to by the Dons’ strike, we hope these and other issues would be deliberated on dispassionately and in a rational spirit by the state and other relevant sections.

In the process, we need to remember that comparatively in South Asia, the number of local students pursuing tertiary education is very small, and this is cold comfort for those who speak lyrically about Sri Lanka’s achievements in the education and vocational training sphere.

The reality which should be unflinchingly countenanced is that tens of thousands of our youths are not enabled to pursue a higher education every year, for no fault of theirs. This is an injustice which is crying out desperately for rectification and no amount of ideological rhetoric and political polemics would help resolve this tangle, provided pragmatic measures are adopted to disentangle it.

The centre of gravity of the world economy has shifted to mainly East Asia and one reason for this is the high productivity of their human resources. The latter fact is in turn linked to heavy state investment in higher and tertiary education and the increasing opportunities the young of that region are provided for pursuing a broad-based education. One could be certain that those polities do not squander their precious time splitting hairs over abstract theoretical issues in education and on the politics linked with the latter.

Our human resources need to be developed at a steady pace if we are to speed ahead on the road of industrialization. If more quality state universities cannot be set up in the foreseeable future to cater to our higher education needs, tertiary level institutions of standing need to be established on an increasing scale, to provide learning opportunities for our youngsters who cannot be enabled to go in for a higher education and to provide them the openings to develop and enhance employable skills and capabilities.

The pragmatic orientation referred to here, must not only be confined to the political forces and other sections involved in our debates on higher and lower level education, but spread to the rest of the body-politic too. Rather than be conventional in our thinking on these questions, we need to look for practicable solutions to our national needs, while providing individual and collective fulfillment.

Absenteeism and employee counselling

It must however be borne in mind, that once an employee’s services are terminated, a replacement has to be recruited and there will be waiting time until the new recruit completes his training. All this is cost incurred. Another is the social factor - a family has lost the earnings of its breadwinner.

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Reminiscences of Gold

Master-builder of the Human Genetics Unit

Walking up the stairs of the Faculty of Medicine, which reminded me of a colonial English Mansion with an imposing regal atmosphere, I finally found the Office of the Dean.

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‘Not at all possible to replace President’

I have listened to the Speaker’s speech, which was made in Parliament. That was very clear. He never accused anyone and what he said was, whatever happened, take steps to make sure that issues was amicably and respectfully settled, in keeping with each one’s dignity in place.

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Cancer treatment

At present cancer is considered as one of five silent killer diseases (heart ailment, hypertension, diabetes, HIV Aids). There is no permanent cure for these ailments, but they could be controlled. In the case of cancer, like HIV the side effects due to treatment (heavy dosage of strong drugs, chemotherapy, radiotherapy etc) are high and patients usually get disheartened during treatment and refuse to cooperate.

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