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Expert questions govt handling of teachers’ issue

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After 16 months of school closure, with more than 50% of students not having had any form of continuous education, it was not advisable or morally correct to hold exams, Dr. Sujata N. Gamage, Senior Research Fellow, LIRNEasia and Co-Coordinator, Education Forum Sri Lanka told The Island yesterday.

She said that each examination should be assessed for its purpose and criticality. Whilst they endorsed the striking teachers claim for higher wages, what they wanted to highlight was the lack of trust and respect shown towards teachers by authorities.

“The latest is a news item which said that the Ministry has established a programme which calls on teachers and principals to issue weekly reports after evaluating students and appoints education instructors to supervise teacher performance on a regular basis. This kind of scrutiny on teachers is totally unnecessary and unacceptable. Teachers have been reaching out to students on their own since March 2020 without being recognized, rewarded or guided by the authorities,” the Senior Research Fellow said.

Dr. Gamage said that the education Forum was pleased to note that the vaccination of teachers was in progress, teachers need to be appreciated and motivated if they were to bring the children up to the required standard after a long break in their education.

“We urge that the Ministry to take the following action without delay to rectify the situation: recognise teachers for their initiatives during the past 16 months, compensate them immediately for additional costs borne by them during the last 18 months in carrying out distance education and paid a monthly allowance for future costs and trust the teachers to do their job.”

The government provided teachers with curricula including expected learning outcomes and teaching guides and 50% of teachers were trained at National Colleges of Education and the others were graduates.

Dr Gamage said Ministry should not dictate how they should teach and they should be judged on the performance of their students.

“The stated purpose of the Grade 5 Scholarship examination is to select students to award scholarships, but the exam has expanded since 1995 as an assessment of learning by all students. It is time to get the exam back to its original intention and mode. Grades 6-9 is a time for activity-based learning without pressure to remember facts for examination. Covid is an opportunity to do away with any form of examination for this age group. The GCE O/L examination is not as critical for Grades 10-11, except for moving onto a popular school. The exam should be postponed to 2022 and travelling long distance for schooling at this time should be discouraged. The GCE A/L examination is the most critical examination for students in Grades 12-13. Every effort should be made to give students adequate time and equal opportunity for preparation,” she said. (RK)



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused

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By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.

 

 

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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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