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Imagining Minister Basil Rajapaksa in India



By Austin Fernando

Former High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in India

When Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s visit to Delhi was announced, my imagination ran riot. What I imagine here is based on the behaviour of Sri Lankan governments and how they have related to Indian leaders. I imagine the following scenes and conversations between Minister Rajapaksa and the Indian leaders:

“Namaskar, Good Morning Your Excellency” is the friendly greeting from Minister Basil Rajapaksa to Madam Nirmala Sitharaman, Indian Minister of Finance.

“Ayu-bo-wan! Good morning Your Excellency” is the reciprocation from Minister Sitharaman. High Commissioner Gopal Baglay has briefed her on Sri Lankan traditions. (Minister Rajapaksa thinks that hailing from Karnataka she knows our traditions.)

The purpose of the ministerial meeting is predictable. HC Baglay’s brief to the South Block on the Sri Lankan economic crisis has reached Minister Sitharaman. It is not confidential since, in the Parliament, the former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and economist turned parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratna have let the cat out of the bag.

HC Baglay’s messages are easily understood, both politically and technically, by Minister Sitharaman. Her capacity to understand such has developed over time by representing India at international economic fora, pushing agreements on trade, commerce between India and other nations, attending World Trade Organization meetings, inter-country business conclaves, participating in India-EU summits and bilateral meetings in African, Asian, European countries, meetings of G-20, BRICS Summit, etc. Knowing her wide international exposure, Minister Basil Rajapaksa, with less exposure on these areas, attempts to match them with his strategising prowess.

“Excellency, we understand you are facing a grave crisis at present?” The discussion commences after the exchange of pleasantries. She can be informal, and tough, too, as I have personally observed previously, in her office, and at Lok Sabha.

Minister Rajapaksa replies: “Madam Minister, you will understand the difficulties caused by COVID-19 and its impact on our economy.”

“Yes, true. But our situation was far worse. We had about 467,000 deaths due to the pandemic.” (This is straight-nosed Minister Sitharaman’s equally straight-nosed response, diplomatic but sternly brushing away the Covid argument.)

“Covid hit us severely and our exports were affected, tourists did not arrive, foreign remittances shrunk, creating an extremely serious foreign exchange crisis,” says Minister Rajapaksa, getting to the point.

“Yes, I hear of it. My information is that former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has said in Parliament that foreign reserves have dwindled to 1.5 billion dollars and the net is 1.2 billion when gold reserve value is deducted. It is precarious and dangerous, I presume.”

(A bell rings in Minister Rajapaksa about Ranil Wickremesinghe’s utterance, and the further capacity reduction quoted by Eran Wickramaratna, i.e., “to less than one month’s worth of imports, which is the “lowest in history.”) “Madam Minister, it is true, and the forex crisis may worsen the shortage of essential food items, medicines, aside from being expensive. It will create a shortage of fuel and may lead to power cuts. Industry and businesses will face difficulties. Our foreign debt burden is exceedingly high. In that light, we have to request India’s assistance.” (He downplays the resultant political crisis.)

Assuming a confrontational mood, Minister Sitharaman says: “Chinese debt? (Laughs!) Or international sovereign bond debt? We were lucky because we managed the economy efficiently, and thus our foreign exchange reserves position is comfortable in terms of import cover of more than 18 months and provides a cushion against unforeseen external shocks. Yours is only a one-month import cover? Our foreign exchange reserves have been increasing from 370 billion dollars in 2016-2017 to 478 billion in 2019-2020 and this year to 577 amidst the pandemic.”

Minister Rajapaksa wonders, “Why cannot India help us with a billion dollars to purchase fuel, on a long-term credit basis? Indian reserve performance is a one hundred billion dollars increase in one year with Covid ravaging the whole country. India can well afford to assist.” (He is happy that credit ratings are not mentioned.)

“We sought relief from several donors. In January we must pay USD 500 mn as debt repayment. Another installment will have to be paid towards mid-2022, amounting to one billion dollars. My government has advised me to seek India’s help and initiate negotiations on terms for an immediate response. It is not financial assistance alone we need; we require trade and investment for which we offer incentives.”

Madam Sitharaman inquires about such repayments without naming countries:

“I think when you meet Prime Minister Modi, please discuss with him this request formally. I will discuss with my officials and colleagues, especially with Foreign Minister Dr. Jaishankar, and brief the PM. You can request Minister Jaishankar, too.”

And, she continues, “Incidentally, I remember meeting Minister Malik Samarawickrama as a representative of President Sirisena’s government in 2019. He promised positive actions but did not follow up. He discussed the Economic and Technology Co-operation Agreement (ETCA). Minister Piyush Goyal told me that he promised to follow up on ETCA with him, too. Nothing has happened. He mentioned the LNG project, and now It has gone to an American company. No consistency. Delays. The PM may express his concerns over and above financial and economic matters. By the way, I would like to know your stance on approaching the International Monetary Fund, which most countries turn to in such eventualities.”

“Excellency, the IMF solution is being considered by us. Yet, we have not finally decided on it. We have differing views on the subject. I am aware that accessing the IMF eases the problem.”

Minister Rajapaksa retreats thanking her for all courtesies and support extended (though nothing concrete has emerged from their discussion!) with a passing comment regarding his kinship with Indians through the marriage of a sibling.

Madam Sitharaman grasps the point on the ‘extended family connection’ and says, “Yes, I heard about it. Now, we are not only friends, neighbours, and relations, as your brother President Mahinda Rajapaksa said earlier, but moreover true relations!” A hearty loud laugh from both sides.

Minister Rajapaksa retreats, thinking of Minister Sitharaman’s camouflaged advice and issues that may be raised by PM Modi. He knows that PM Modi could be blunt at times. The Minister discusses details with his officials and the new High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, Milinda Moragoda, who has prepared a roadmap, which concentrates on benefits to Sri Lanka, as it ought to be, but the Minister knows what PM Modi will want to know how it will serve India’s interests.

Minister Basil Rajapaksa meets PM Modi with High Commissioner Moragoda and Secretary SR Attygalle.

Prime Minister Modi in his usual friendly manner greets the delegation. Making the meeting informal PM Modi inquires, “I heard that you met Minister Sitharaman already?”

“Yes, Your Excellency, it was a fruitful meeting,” says Minister Rajapaksa, though she did not offer to help sort out Sri Lanka’s foreign reserve crisis. However, knowing the toughness of PM Modi’s approaches he waits to hear his “demands.” He knows that there is no such thing as free lunch diplomacy or international relations. He has learned it even from the Chinese.

The PM gets to the point straight away:

“Minister Sitharaman indicated to me that you have a serious foreign exchange crisis, and you face an extremely serious economic and political crises as well, and you expect our assistance, too. Of course, we have accommodated your requests earlier, too, by way of assistance, swaps and investments.”

Though Minister Rajapaksa did not explicitly mention a political fallout, Minister Sitharaman has understood it and briefed Prime Minister thereon. “Yes, we are faced with economic and political crises” replies Minister Rajapaksa. (He does not say it is ‘grave,’ though it is so.) As a strategist, he knows that if he shows weakness, Indians will take the upper hand, as happened to President JR Jayewardene during PM Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure in 1986-1987.

“I understand it well. We were faced with extensive problems with a larger pandemic impact on our society. Still, we have enhanced our foreign reserves irrespectively. Even Bangladesh has achieved success in it. I know you had issues with trade unions and farmers. It is common to us, too. We had farmers on the roads for months. Still, we have propped up our foreign reserves. Of course, you have just taken over the finance portfolio. But you are a seasoned politician, I know. Still, you must look at bilateral, multilateral, and regional policies and issues as a continuum.”

“Yes, Your Excellency. We should.”

“I am happy that you endorse continuing with already followed policies and issues. I need not mention to you about the LNG Project at Kera-wala-piti-ya. It was to be taken along with Japanese participation and now that is gone to a US firm, I am told. It may be a new development after you became the Minister of Finance.”

Minister Rajapaksa worries: “Was it a reference to the Minister’s dual citizenship, as alleged in Colombo?”

“Future projects I believe are on the cards. For instance, gas exploration in the Mannar Basin. One of your Tamil MPs – I think Mr. Adaikkalanathan has told Parliament that the project to collect natural gas in Mannar should be granted to India. It is not we who say it.”

“I will make note of Your Excellency’s concern” replied Minister Rajapaksa.

PM Modi goes on: “The former government agreed with us in 2003, I presume, to settle the Trincomalee petroleum tanks issue. Later in 2017, a project was considered for Mattala Airport, which I understand the government wishes to develop now. In 2017, Foreign Minister Madam Sushma Swaraj signed an MOU with Sri Lanka. The progress was extremely slow. Eastern Container Terminal agreement was scrapped. However, I am aware the West Container Terminal matter is progressing, and happy, although some trade unions are opposed to it. I sense there is some dialogue on the Trincomalee oil tank project with slow movement. I think you can solve your foreign exchange and oil supply issues if Sri Lanka correctly plans out the Trincomalee- oil tanks, port, industries in the hinterland, beaches, Ramayana Yatra tourism, fisheries, agriculture, etc. Don’t you think so?”

“Your Excellency, all these are negotiable. To negotiate this government should be in office sans financial and economic problems” responds Minister Rajapaksa. The foundation for financial assistance is slowly ‘pushed in.’

“Since you were willing to follow through earlier bi-lateral relationships I may mention economic and political issues that have been carried over for decades. One is the ETCA which was also mentioned by Minister Sitharaman. How many rounds of talks were held? More than ten? No finalisation.

The second economic issue is the fishing in Palk Bay, which is a humanitarian issue too. There too there is a Joint Working Group, which has met about three or four rounds but without solving problems.

“There are two political issues. One is the repatriation of refugees for which our foreign affairs officials should work together. The second is more important. It is the devolution of power. You will recall President Mahinda Rajapaksa was ready to go even to the 13th Amendment plus. He told this to former Minister of External Affairs SM Krishna. Your present Foreign Minister repeated in support of devolution, I remember.

“When I was following through, I found in a statement, even you have said that the Indian side called for the implementation of the 13A and greater devolution of powers to the provinces and that you emphasised that the President of Sri Lanka and his government were committed to a political process that should lead to a sustainable solution. Don’t you think that it is time to carry out that pledge?

“Minister, please keep in mind that this request had been made by all Indian governments, irrespective of Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party. It is meant for the Tamil people to feel that they are equal citizens of Sri Lanka, and they could lead a life of dignity and self-respect. Your brother Mahinda Rajapaksa said in 2009 that he was willing to do so. President Sirisena’s government promised it in 2015 at the UNHRC. A domestic issue that became bilateral with us was internationalised by them. These go along with human and fundamental rights. We had to deviate from your stances at the UNHRC twice and abstain once in recent times. We did so with a heavy heart. Sri Lanka should act to make its friends stay forever. With the promulgation of the new Constitution, isn’t it fair to emphasise devolution?”

Minister Rajapaksa says, “I agree with you on power-sharing and qualitative upliftment of minorities. I will bring this to the notice of our government.”

“Finally, I have to say something about the Indian Ocean’s security, peace, and free movement. As you are aware the Asian seas are affected by the intrusion of some nations. I believe you too would appreciate that the Indian Ocean should remain as the Indian Ocean and not by some other name!”

“I understand what Your Excellency explains. Of course, bi-laterally we have already taken some economic measures. We are misunderstood due to such relationships. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in Delhi during his maiden state visit that Sri Lanka would not do anything detrimental to India’s interests; he has repeatedly said India should put behind them the misunderstandings and move ahead. He told this to Foreign Secretary Shringla when he met him in Colombo. Excellency, please note that the President’s commitment will stand firm and solid. Hence, your assistance at this difficult juncture will reinforce that firm, solid, longstanding unwavering friendship. We will not forget it.”

The dialogue seems extremely productive.

“Thank you, Minister. I made note of your statement. I will advise my Ministers External Affairs and Finance to look at your request very positively, and further influence the private and state sector agencies to promote and encourage investment and trading opportunities in Sri Lanka. I wish that your government will speedily ease systems and approaches to support such investors. I think the Minister of Finance will keep you happy. I wish you well in the new portfolio”

The Minister bids adieu with a sigh of relief. The results will be known soon. (I think it will be positive. If negative, we will be done for. Best wishes Mr. Minister!)

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From a ‘Clash of Civilizations’ to a ‘Dialogue among Civilizations’



A meeting of BRICS leaders

As the world continues to reel from the ‘aftershocks’ as it were of the October 7th Gaza Strip-centred savagery, what it should guard against most is a mood of pessimism and hopelessness. Hopefully, the international community would pull itself together before long and give of its best to further the cause of a political solution in the Middle East.

It is plain to see that what needs to be done most urgently at present is the prolongation of the current ceasefire, besides facilitating a steady exchange of hostages but given the present state of hostilities between the warring sides this would not prove an easy challenge.

Considering that there are no iron-clad guarantees by either side that there would be a longstanding ceasefire followed by a cessation of hostilities, what we have at present in the Middle East is a highly fraught ‘breather’ from the fighting. There are no easy answers to the currently compounded Middle East conflict but the external backers of the warring sides could alleviate the present suffering of the peoples concerned to a degree by bringing steady pressure on the principal antagonists to drastically scale down their hostilities.

If they mean well by the communities concerned, these external backers, such as the US, as regards Israel, and those major Middle Eastern states backing Hamas and other militant groups, would set about creating a conducive climate for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

De-escalating the supply of lethal military hardware to the warring sides is a vital first step towards this end. External military backing is a key element in the prolongation of the war and a decrease in such support would go some distance in curtailing the agony of the peoples concerned. The onus is on these external parties to prove their good intentions, if they have any.

Meanwhile, major states of the South in increasing numbers are making their voices heard on the principal issues to the conflict. One such grouping is BRICS, which is now featuring among its prospective membership, countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran. That is, in the foreseeable future BRICS would emerge as a greatly expanded global grouping, which would come to be seen as principally representative of the South.

Since the majority of countries within the BRICS fold are emerging economies, the bloc could be expected to wield tremendous economic and military clout in the present world order. With China and Russia counting among the foremost powers in the grouping, BRICS would be in a position to project itself as an effective counterweight to the West and the G7 bloc.

However, the major challenge before the likes of BRICS is to prove that they will be a boon and not a bane to the poorer countries of the South. They would be challenged to earnestly champion the cause of a just and equitable world political and economic order. Would BRICS, for instance, be equal to such challenges? Hopefully, the commentator would be able to answer this question in the affirmative, going ahead.

The current issues in the Middle East pose a major challenge to BRICS. One of the foremost tasks for BRICS in relation to the Middle East is the formulation of a policy position that is equitable and fair to all the parties to the conflict. The wellbeing of both the Palestinians and the Israelis needs to be staunchly championed.

Thus, BRICS is challenged to be even-handed in its managing of Middle Eastern questions. If the grouping does not do this, it risks turning the Gaza bloodletting, for example, into yet another proxy war front between the East and West.

Nothing constructive would be achieved by BRICS, in that the wellbeing of the peoples concerned would not be served and proxy wars have unerringly been destructive rather constructive in any way. The South could do without any more of these proxy wars and BRICS would need to prove its skeptics wrong on this score.

Accordingly, formations, such as BRICS, that are genuine counterweights to the West are most welcome but their presence in the world system should prove to be of a positive rather than of a negative nature. They need to keep the West in check in the UN system, for example, but they should steer clear of committing the West’s excesses and irregularities.

More specifically, the expanding BRICS should be in a position to curtail the proliferation of identity politics in the present world order. The West has, thus far, failed to achieve this. The seismic convulsions in the Gaza re-establish the pervasive and pernicious presence of identity politics in the world’s war zones, so much so, one could say that US political scientist Samuel Huntingdon is being proved absolutely right in his theorization that world politics over the past 30 years has been essentially a ‘Clash of Civilizations’.

After all, current developments in the Middle East could be construed by the more simple-minded observer as a pitting of Islam against Judaism, although there are many more convoluted strands to the Middle East conflict than a violent clash of these religious identities. More so why the influence of identity politics needs to blunted and eliminated by the right-thinking.

One way in which this could be achieved is the through the steady espousal and practise of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s ‘Dialogue of Civilizations’ theory. While the existence of a ‘Clash of Civilizations’ cannot be denied on account of the pervasive presence of identity politics the world over, the negative effects of this brand of politics could be neutralized through the initiation and speeding-up of a robust dialogue among civilizations or identity groups.

Such an exchange of views or dialogue could prove instrumental in facilitating mutual understanding among cultural and civilizational groups. The consequence could be a reduction in tensions among mutually hostile social groups. Needless to say, the Middle East is rife with destructive politics of this kind.

Accordingly, there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way cultural groups interact with each other. The commonalities among these groups could be enhanced through a constant dialogue process and the Middle East of today opens out these possibilities.

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Their love story in song…



The duo in the company of Dinesh Hemantha and Jananga

It’s certainly encouraging to see Sri Lankan artistes now trying to be creative…where songs are concerned.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen some interesting originals surfacing, with legendary singer/entertainer Sohan Weerasinghe’s ‘Sansare,’ taking the spotlight.

Rubeena Shabnam, Sri Lankan based in Qatar, and Yohan Dole, living in Australia, have teamed up to produce a song about their love life.

‘Adare Sulagin’ is the title of the song and it’s the couple’s very first duet.

Says Rubeena: “This song is all about our love story and is a symbol of our love. It feels like a dream singing with my fiancé.”

Elaborating further, especially as to how they fell in love, Rubeena went on to say that they met via social media, through a common friend of theirs.

The song and video was done in Sri Lanka.

Rubeena and Yohan with lyricist Jananga Vishawajith

“We both travelled to Sri Lanka, in August this year, where we recorded the song and did the video, as well.

‘Adare Sulagin’ was composed by Dinesh Hemantha (DH Wave Studio, in Galle), while the lyrics were penned by Jananga Vishwajith, and the video was handled by Pathmila Ravishan.

It is Dinesh Hemantha’s second composition for Rubeena – the first being ‘Surali.’

“It was an amazing project and it was done beautifully. Talking about the music video, we decided to keep it more simple, and natural, so we decided to capture it at the studio. It was a lot of fun working with them.”

‘Adare Sulagin,’ says Rubeena, is for social media only. “We have not given it for release to any radio or TV station in Sri Lanka.”

However, you could check it out on YouTube: Adare Sulagin – Rubeena Shabnam, ft. Yohan Dole.

Rubeena lives and works in Qatar and she has been in the music industry for almost five years. She has done a few originals but this one, with Yohan, is very special to her, she says.

Yohan Dole resides in Australia and is a guitarist and vocalist.

He has a band called Rhythmix, in Australia, where they play at various events.

He has been doing music for quite a while now but doing an original song was one of his dreams, he says

Rubeena and Yohan plan to get married, in December, and do more music together, in different genres.

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Mathematics examinations or mathematics curriculum?



Some people say that it is not necessary for a Grade 10 student to buy an ordinary scientific calculator because they have smartphones with built-in calculators. If not, it is easy to install a calculator app on mobile phones. A smartphone should not be used as a calculator during a mathematics test or a mathematics exam because it can be used for cheating. In the UK and other developed countries students have to keep their smartphones in their school bags or in their lockers outside the classroom during mathematics tests and exams. 

by Anton Peiris

R. N.A. De Silva has, in a recent article, provided some useful tips to students as regards preparation for mathematics examinations. Trained teachers and graduates with professional qualifications are familiar with this topic.  All mathematics teachers have a duty to help the students with revision.

The more important task is to salvage the Sri Lankan O/Level mathematics students from the abyss that they have fallen into, viz. the implications and the retarding effect of the use of obsolete Log Tables. The Minister of Education, Senior Ministry Officials and the NIA are oblivious to the important and interesting things that have happened in Grades 10 and 11 mathematics in the UK, other parts of Europe, Japan, Canada, China and elsewhere. They have been like frogs in a well for almost half a century. Here are two important facts:

1. O/Level mathematics students in Sri Lanka are 46 years behind their counterparts in the UK and in other developed countries. Ordinary Scientific calculators were introduced to the O/Level mathematics classrooms in the UK way back in 1977. Prior to that those students used Slide Rules to facilitate their mathematical calculations. Ordinary scientific calculators give the values of Sine, Cos, Tan and their Inverses, Log, LN, exponential powers, square roots, squares, reciprocals, factorials, etc., at the press of a button, in addition to performing arithmetic functions. There is no memory to store mathematical formulae, etc. It is an invaluable tool for solving sophisticated and interesting mathematical problems and also problems in ordinary statistics. It has paved the way for achieving high standards in O/Level Mathematics in those countries.

Just compare the maths questions in the Cambridge IGCSE or the London O/Level Maths Exam with the questions in the Sri Lankan O/Level maths exam and you will see how far our students have fallen behind.

The Cambridge O/Level examination was replaced by the GCSE and the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) a few decades ago.

I am not referring to Programmable Calculators and Graphic Display Calculators (GDC), meaning devices with a small screen that can display graphs, perform statistical calculations like the Z- Score for large samples, show Matrix calculations, provide solutions to algebraic equations, etc., at the press of a few buttons. GDC is a compulsory item for A/Level mathematics students in the UK and in all developed countries.

Some teachers say that by using ordinary scientific calculators in Grades 10 and 11, students will not acquire the ability to carry out mental arithmetic calculations. This is not true because

(i). Calculators are introduced in Grade 10. Maths teachers have five years of Primary School and three years of Middle school (Grades 7, 8 and 9) i.e. a total of eight years to inculcate sufficient mental arithmetic skills in their students before the calculators are introduced in Grade 10!

(ii). In the IGCSE and in the London O/Level Mathematics Exams calculators are not allowed for Paper 1. Preparation for Paper 1 requires the acquisition of mental arithmetic skills, e.g., one lesson per week in class in Grades 10 and 11 in which calculators are not allowed. Sri Lanka could follow suit.

Some people say that it is not necessary for a Grade 10 student to buy an ordinary scientific calculator because they have smartphones with built-in calculators. If not, it is easy to install a calculator app on mobile phones. A smartphone should not be used as a calculator during a mathematics test or a mathematics exam because it can be used for cheating. In the UK and other developed countries students have to keep their smartphones in their school bags or in their lockers outside the classroom during mathematics tests and exams.

An ordinary scientific calculator costs less than 10 % of the price of a smartphone.

Sri Lankan students in International Schools sit the IGCSE or the London O/Level mathematics exams where ordinary scientific calculators are allowed. These students have made big strides in learning mathematics by using the calculators. Only the rich can send their children to International Schools in Sri Lanka. Millions of poor Sri Lankan students do not have calculators.

Our Minister of Education has announced that the government was planning to transform the country’s education system by introducing ‘’STEAM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). Maintaining high standards in O/Level Mathematics is the key to a successful implementation of STEAM programme. Unfortunately, the Education Minister and top education official are not aware of the fact that the only way to improve the standard of O/Level Mathematics is to do what the developed countries have done, i. e., revamping the O/Level mathematics syllabus and to introducing the ordinary scientific calculator in Grades 10 & 11. If they do it, it will be an important piece of curriculum development.

Bear in mind that the UK and other developed countries have taken another important step during the last 20 years; they have introduced the Graphic Display Calculator (GDC) to the O/Level Mathematics class and by providing a Core Exam and an Extended Exam. In the Cambridge IGCSE Mathematics Exams, Papers 1, 3, and 5 constitute the Core Exam. Papers 2 ,4 and 6 constitute the Extended Exam. Calculators are not allowed in Papers 1 and 2.

The Core Exam is a boon to students who have very little or no mathematical ability. More on this in my next article.

By using Log Tables, our Sri Lankan O/Level students have to spend a lot of time to solve an IGCSE (Extended Syllabus) exam problem or a London O/Level mathematics exam problem because the use of Log Tables takes a long time  to work out the Squares, Square Roots, exponential powers, reciprocals , LN , factorials, etc., and that is tedious work while their counterparts in developed countries do that in a few seconds by pressing a couple of buttons in an ordinary scientific calculator.

The Calculator has given them more motivation to learn mathematics.

O/Level students in the UK have graduated from the ordinary scientific calculator to the Graphic Display Calculator (GDC) thereby improving their ability to solve more sophisticated, more important and more interesting problems in mathematics, statistics and physics. Sri Lankan O/Level students are compelled to use obsolete Log Tables.

Hats off to that Minister of Education who introduced the ordinary scientific calculator to the Sri Lankan A/ Level Mathematics classroom and to the A/Level Mathematics Exam a few years ago. That was a small step in the right direction. Minister Susil Premjayantha, please revamp the O/Level mathematics syllabus and introduce the ordinary scientific calculator to Grades 10 and 11 now. That will ensure a big boost for your STEAM programme and yield benefits for the Sri Lankan economy.

(To be continued. Topic 2:  The necessity for introducing an O/Level Mathematics Core Exam and an Extended Exam. The writer has taught O/Level and A/Level Mathematics and Physics for 45 years in Asia, Africa and Europe and is an Emeritus Coordinator for International Baccalaureate, Geneva.)

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