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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

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President stresses need to foster religious and ethnic harmony

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday stressed the importance of people of different communities and religions forging closer bonds between them. He said all citizens should take the responsibility to promote ethnic and religious harmony.

He was of the view that this type of bond would avert unnecessary problems. The President was speaking at the unveiling of a pinnacle of the newly constructed Dagaba of the Sri Anandaramaya Temple in Keenagahawela, Eheliyagoda.

JHU Parliamentarian Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thera delivered the anusasana. President Rajapaksa presented a special memento to the temple’s Viharadhikari Ven Kurundankulame Dhammawansa Thera in recognition of his services to the Buddha Sasana. The thera also presented a replica of a Dagaba to the President.

President Rajapaksa said the time has come to end differences that stood in the way towards closer ethnic and religious harmony.

He said students are compelled to learn in Muslim, Tamil and Sinhala schools separately till they are 22 years.

He said these students are told to live in harmony with other communities after they reach 22 years.

The President also said the dividends of development should reach rural villages.

He said the government was in the process of providing basic facilities such as water, electricity, infrastructure facilities and telecommunication facilities to every village.

President Rajapaksa said the Northern province has seen massive development since the end of the conflict.

He said the government opened a fully fledged hospital complex at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital where there are 10 surgical theatres in a single floor. The President said special focus should be laid on the education of students while infrastructure facilities are developed.

“No one can prevent students from leaving the village schools if they do not have facilities and good teachers,” he said.

He said the government started a programme to empower schools in the villages with more facilities and teachers.

“The development of the country will become fruitless if moral values deteriorate among our younger generation,” he said.

He said parents have a responsibility to mould the personality of their children with high standards of moral and ethical values.

Religious leaders and the learned people in the villages have a responsibility in this aspect, he said.

He said the number of students attending Sunday school was on the increase and more youths were going to the temple.

The President said that the religion of certain students have been confined to their Birth Certificates only.

“They do not have knowledge of their religion, history of the country nor their mother tongue,” he said.

President Rajapaksa said he instructed the Education Ministry to make history, religion and mother tongue compulsory for students of International Schools.

Ministers Pavithra Wanniarachchi and Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Viharadhikari Ven Kurundankulame Dhammawansa Thera also spoke.

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