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Dialog Axiata with Manusath Derana extends Data Scholarships to 100,000 school children

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In its continued efforts to ensure that no child is left behind in continuing their education, Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, together with TV Derana is providing Data Scholarships to 100,000 deserving school children under the ‘NanaDiri Data Scholarship’ program to facilitate their online learning from home.

Through the NanaDiri Data Scholarship program, which is part of the ‘Dialog Axiata with Manusath Derana’ initiative, each student will be offered 10GB Data for online learning and educational purposes for three months. Under this initiative, NenaDiri Data Scholarships were awarded to students at Angulugaha Maha Vidyalaya, Galle on June 14 with the participation of Ministry of Education officials and Dialog representatives. 

“We cannot allow the pandemic to deprive our children of their education and development,” Minister of Education, Prof. G. L. Peiris stressed.

“We are grateful to Dialog and Manusath Derana for stepping forward during these turbulent times and providing these school children in need the opportunity to continue their online learning while also providing some form of financial relief to parents in the process”, he said.

“We are pleased to be a part of this great initiative driven by the collective aim of providing children that are most in need with a chance for a brighter future”, he added.

 Prof. Kapila Perera, Secretary of Ministry of Education said, “I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dialog and the Manusath Derana team for supporting the continuation of the education of these students who face many financial difficulties and don’t have the means to go online and learn. Thanks to this initiative, these students from rural schools now have equitable access to education along with the worldly opportunities and development that accompany it. We are pleased to be part of this initiative that will help those hit hardest by the pandemic get the support they need, while facilitating our students, who are the future of this country, with the necessary resources.”

Speaking at the event, Supun Weerasinghe, Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata PLC said, “In the wake of the pandemic, one of our primary objectives is to secure the educational opportunities for children across the country with an emphasis on students who cannot afford to continue their education as the world shifts online.

“To bridge this divide, Dialog is pleased to present the ‘NenaDiri Data Scholarship Program’ as another proactive solution to this emergent need. We remain committed to helping mitigate the impact to education due to Covid lockdown and support our schoolchildren to excel during the pandemic.”

This is yet another initiative by Dialog in its continued efforts of supporting students across the country with their educational endeavours. In addition to this initiative, Dialog powers a range of educational platforms under the Nenasa initiative; Nenasa TV, Nenasa Smart School, Nenasa App and the toll-free Nenasa 1916 distance learning helpline.

Dialog also extended free access to its education bouquet Nenasa Sinhala, Nenasa Tamil and Guru TV channels through Dialog Television and ViU App. Furthermore, the company extended free access without any data charges to e-Thaksalawa, the National Learning Content Management System (LCMS)/Learning Management System (LMS), and to all official e-Learning platforms of State Universities under the purview of the University Grants Commission.



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Hemas collect discarded carbon pens, toothbrushes from schools

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By ifham Nizam

Hemas Holdings PLC and the Environment Ministry yesterday came together to provide schools with containers to collect used plastic items such as ballpoint pens and toothbrushes. Hemas Holdings PLC, will supply the containers until April 2022.

The agreement was signed by Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera and Hemas Holdings PLC CEO Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson, Executive Director Shiromi Masakorala, Senior Manager Ishani Ranasinghe and Manager Mindika Tillekeratne were also present on the occasion.

Minister Amaraweera said it took 400-500 years for used ballpoint pens and tooth brushes to decompose. Amaraweera instructed officials not to spend any government money on the scheme.

The government school system alone discarded between 80-100 kilograms of used ballpoint pens a day. As with other public and private institutions, there was no accurate information on the ballpoint pens used and discarded by individuals, the Minister added. The Minister said that it had been estimated that at least one million toothbrushes were discarded daily.

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AZ vaccine delay baffles over 500,000 awaiting second shot 

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DGHS to be summoned by HRCSL  

 

By Shamindra Ferdinando 

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has decided to summon the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Asela Gunawardena for failure to address HRCSL’s concerns pertaining to the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme. 

Dr. Jagath Balasuriya, Chairman, HRCSL, on May 28, in writing, requested Dr. Gunawardena to submit a comprehensive report on the vaccination programme by, or before, June 15. 

A senior spokesperson for the HRCSL yesterday (27) told The Island that Dr. Gunawardena would be summoned as the request made in terms of Human Rights Act of Sri Lanka Act No 21 of 1996 was not adhered to. 

The HRCSL consists of Dr. Jagath Balasuriya, Dr. M.H. Nimal Karunasiri, Dr. Vijitha Nanayakkara, Ms. Anusuya Shanmuganathan and H.K. Navaratne Weraduwa. 

DGHS is the senior officer in charge of Covid-19 inoculation drive. 

In HRCSL letter dated May 28 addressed to Dr. Gunawardena, one-time lawmaker Dr. Balasuriya said that clarification was sought after receiving representations as regarding the inoculation drive. 

Dr. Gunawardena didn’t answer his phone for us to clarify the issue at hand. 

Meanwhile, controversy surrounds the decision to suspend giving Pfizer as the second jab to those who had received Covishield (AstraZeneca). According to the health ministry, 2,171 Covishield recipients were given Pfizer on July 7 and further inoculation was suspended abruptly on July 8 claiming that sufficient stock of AstraZeneca would be available in the third week of July. The announcement was made by Deputy Director General Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath who declared the immediate suspension of Pfizer vaccines for recipients, who had got Covishield as their first dose. 

The Island yesterday sought an explanation from Dr. Herath as regards the inordinate delay in inoculation of those awaiting the second AstraZeneca jab. Dr. Herath said that administration of Pfizer was stopped on July 8 after the Health Ministry received an assurance from the WHO that 1.4 mn AztraZeneca stock would be available in the third week. Dr. Herath emphasized that if not for that assurance, the government wouldn’t have stopped using Pfizer. “Now, we are hopefully awaiting the delivery of the promised stock under Covax facility.” 

Dr. Herath said that the Health Ministry was in touch with the WHO in that regard. The Health Ministry spokesperson was responding to The Island query whether the issue at hand was taken up with the Japanese embassy.

The Japanese embassy in Colombo on July 13 announced that Japan would provide approximately 1.45 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured in Japan to Sri Lanka through the COVAX facility to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka. The embassy said that the vaccines were expected to be delivered during the coming weeks.  

Dr. Herath acknowledged that the sudden stopping of the well planned programme to vaccinate those who had received Covishield with Pfizer as the second dose somewhat derailed the operation. 

Responding to another query, Dr. Herath said that so far Sri Lanka had received 264,000 doses under the Covax project though the initial estimates indicated 4.5 mn doses in a quarter once the operation got underway.  

Dr. Herath emphasized that on the part of the health ministry and the government there was absolutely no effort to deceive those who received Covishield as first doze. Over 500,000 of those who had got Covishield first jab remained to be inoculated with the second AstraZeneca jab, Dr. Herath said, asserting that Sri Lanka was blessed with a functioning system to carry out the challenging task. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the required supply of doses of Covishield as pledged by the WHO Dr. Herath said, assuring they would do whatever possible to inoculate those who had been deprived of Covishield second dose. 

Dr. Herath explained that disruption of the Covishield supply chain caused a major crisis here. The health ministry spokesman asserted that the unexplained long delay caused uncertainty and in a way undermined public confidence in the health sector.

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North and East to benefit from 1.6 mn Sinopharm doses donated by China

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with Chinese Ambassador in Colombo Qi Zhenhong (pic courtesy PMD)

China has donated another consignment of 1.6 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Sri Lanka to fight the pandemic. Two SriLankan flights, UL869 and UL865, carrying the vaccine arrived at the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport at 5.30 a.m., yesterday (27).

Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong officially handed over the vaccines to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat, yesterday (27).

In addition to these vaccines, a stock of syringes has also been donated. The vaccines were handed over to the Ministry of Health to be given to people over the age of 30 years in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. 72% of the vaccines used in the vaccination process in Sri Lanka is Sinopharm.

President Rajapaksa said that he highly appreciated the support provided by the Chinese Government for the control of COVID – 19 by donating 600,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines on March 31, 500,000 on May 26 and 1.6 million doses yesterday.

The President pointed out that by the end of August, all those over the age of 30 would be vaccinated and the tourism industry would be able to commence from September. “Therefore, the Chinese people are invited to visit Sri Lanka again”, the President said.

Ministers Pavithra Wanniarachchi and Douglas Devananda, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Senior Advisor to President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage, and the Political Officer of the Chinese Embassy Luo Chong was also present on the occasion.

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