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China only watching, will not get involved in Sri Lankan election

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* Sinhala translation of Prevention and Control of COVID-19 launched

by Zacki Jabbar

China said yesterday that it was only watching the forthcoming general election in Sri Lanka as a true friend and would not get involved in it any manner.

Speaking to The Island on the sidelines of the launch of the translation of the book “Prevention and Control of COVID-19”, from Chinese to Sinhala, Hu Wei, Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy said “We don’t wait until Sri Lanka comes to us with a request. We just help. As for the general election, we are only observing as a true friend should do, but will not get involved in any manner.”

Speaking earlier at the official launch ceremony, Wei said that China and Sri Lanka would discuss their experiences in combating the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and in turn would share it with the world. The objective of translating the book “Prevention and Control of COVID-19”, into Sinhala, he noted, was to convey their message to the world.

Wei observed that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus had taken the entire world by surprise, as it transcends wealth, fame, age, gender and nationality.

“Our friendship is not just with the Sri Lankan leaders but also with the people. It is a touching story. We think what you think, we worry about what you worry and your concerns are our concerns”, he noted.

Wei said that with a view to protecting the Sri Lankan people, the Embassy had donated thousands of masks to various institutions since the outbreak of COVID-19. “This includes the Health Ministry, 26 schools, five universities and three-wheel taxi drivers. Next week, we will provide a large number of masks to bus crews as well”, he added

Lakshmana Saparamadu, who translated the book said that a special word of thanks was due to the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, without which, the project would not have been possible. He also thanked the Sri Lanka Cooperation Studies Centre of the Pathfinder Foundation, Shanghai Scientific & Technical Publishers and the Chinese Embassy in Colombo.

The book features a range of prevention and control measures to be adopted at different places such as homes, outdoors, workplaces, etc., and also contains scenario – based strategies, frequently asked questions, and addresses myths and misconceptions prevalent among the public. Consequently, it would serve to educate students, teachers and management of institutions where groups of people are concentrated such as rehabilitation centres and the general society.

“Prevention and Control of COVID – 19” is edited by Professor Wenhong Zhang, who is a leading Chinese expert on infectious diseases and was Head of the Shanghai COVID – 19 Treatment Expert Group. He is also the Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital of Fudan University.

The book is a valuable tool to all readers and provides simple, practical, scientific and targeted information on prevention and control measures. It states – Breaking the chain of infection is the only way to control the spread of infectious diseases. However, implementation of control principles requires each of us to properly protect ourselves and actively cooperate with anti-epidemic work, in addition to relying on national prevention and control measures, so that this battle may come to an end faster.



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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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President: SL should tap its potential to become education hub in region

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By Saman Indrajith

Sri Lanka has the potential to become a regional education hub, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said addressing a Committee Stage debate of the 2023 Budget in parliament yesterday.The President said that the way schools are conducted will change in the next 25 years.

“In 25 years, there may not be physical universities. That actually makes it easier for us to become a regional hub of education,” he said.

Wickremesinghe said a large number of students leave the country for higher education. Around three billion US dollars is sent out of the country for foreign education, he said.

The President said that if Sri Lanka becomes a regional hub for education the country can earn about USD 10 billion.

“I urge the National Council and other Parliamentary Committees to look into this,” he said.

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