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MP Samarasinghe says concept of non-resident city universities is the answer to solving tertiary needs

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By Saman Indrajith

SLPP Kalutara District MP Mahinda Samarasinghe told Parliament on Wednesday (18) that though Sri Lanka was in a better position in primary education the country’s higher education was not doing so well comparatively.

Participating in the second reading stage of the debate on budget 2021 proposals, MP Samarasinghe said that Sri Lanka’s position in world rankings with regard to primary education was praiseworthy and its record was impressive.

“But when we look at higher education, our position is quite low especially compared to India, the Maldives, Malaysia and South Korea. This should be rectified if we are to move forward in the path to sustainable development,” MP Samarasinghe said.

He said that as per statistics, around 375,000 children entered school education annually. “As per 2018-2019 figures around 267,000 sit the GCE Advanced Level examination. Of them 150,000 get through the examination and are qualified for university education. But our universities enroll only around 32,000 students a year. It is around 8.53 per cent of the original figure. This shows us that we must give more weight to develop our education sector. The budget proposals have addressed that need. The Prime Minister announced the construction of new city universities for each district. Setting up of a non-resident City University per District, targeting specific areas of high demand for employment opportunities is proposed and I think it is a move in the right direction. This would enable us to double the intake to university education.

“Today in the country’s job market around 80 percent jobs are provided by the private sector. The public sector provides only 20 percent of jobs. So education should cater to the needs of the job market.

“Instead of promoting classical studies and traditional curriculum in universities, we must promote technical education in Vocational Training institutes. When we take an institute such as Germantech, there are around 1,800 students there and around 600 have job opportunities each year. When Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President we set up a branch of Germantech in Kilinochchi where 300-400 students were currently studying. Many who obtained Germantech certificates have been able to win foreign employment with decent salaries thanks to that certificate,” MP Samarasinghe said.



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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