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GL wants universities to admit more students

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Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has pointed out the failure on the part of the university system to accommodate a large number of students though they qualified with the required marks for university entrance.

Revealing that he is planning to increase the university intake, Prof. Peiris has drawn the attention of the academics to the mismatch between university curricula and the requirements of employers for suitable employment in the job market.

One-time Foreign Minister said so when the Alumni Association of the University of Colombo felicitated their former Vice Chancellor and an illustrious alumnus at a function held at the Senate Hall of the University of Colombo. The event was attended by Vice Chancellors, Deans, Academics and Alumnus.

President of the Alumni Association Rajeev Amarasuriya in his welcome address said “As an admired academic and university administrator, we can confidently say that there is no better person to be given the portfolio of the Minister of Education, and during your term of office we look forward to many revolutionary changes in our education system, which has much room for improvement.”.

He also mentioned the support extended by Prof. Peiris to the Association and said “when we were formulating the plan for the Swimming Pool Complex for the University of Colombo, Prof. Peiris was someone with whom, very early on I shared the plans, and we look forward to your support in seeing this project to completion before long”. He also thanked his wife, Mrs. Savithri Peries for her presence and said she has been the silent strength behind his success.

Addressing the gathering the Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Senior Professor Chandrika Wijeyaratne congratulated Prof. Peiris on his appointment and wished him all the best in the important national task of reforming the Educational Sector which has been entrusted to him. She reiterated that the University of Colombo has been ranked No 1 among all universities in the country as a result of strategic planning targeted at sustainable development goals, extensive research and development work that was carried out by the University with emphasis on value addition, hosting the AUA Youth Forum in 2019, participating in International webinars, and becoming the best performing university after the COVID 19 shut down.

Mr. Thilak Karunaratne, former President of the Alumni Association traced the milestones of Prof. Peiris’ outstanding education and academic achievements and his political journey. He referred to some fond memories and anecdotes about his school days.

Prof G L Peiris was formally introduced by Prof. Indira Nanayakkara Dean of the Faculty of Law.

He said that he was very happy to be back in the University of Colombo which is very familiar territory to him, having been in the University of Colombo for 26 years in different capacities, and ending up as its Vice Chancellor.

Prof. G.L. Peiris said that each of the 13 universities must focus on a unique and a different way to be identified for their strengths and capacity. Each University should be seen as different from the other. He raised the concern that the university system is unable to accommodate a large number of students although they qualify with the required marks for university entrance and therefore he has plans to increase the intake to the Universities. He drew attention to the mismatch in university curricula as against the requirements of employers for suitable employment in the job market. He said that Private Sector employers have said that there are many vacancies for employment in the Private Sector but they are unable to find candidates to fill these vacancies. The Minister said that undergraduates need to be taught Information Technology before they graduate from the University and also made competent to work in English if they are to obtain gainful employment.

Prof. G L Peiris in his address referred to the contribution made by Past President of the Alumni Association the late Mrs. Sujata Jayawardena by building a Hostel to accommodate Women Undergraduates at Buller’s Lane since at that time the University had rented 32 individual houses to accommodate these students.

The event concluded with the vote of thanks delivered by the Vice President of the Association Ms. Suranjani Wickramaratne.

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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