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National Policy on recruitment of teachers out soon



By Saman Indrajith

Leader of the House and Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that a national policy to recruit teachers to the school system was being formulated and it would be introduced to the country soon.

 Speaking at the Consultative Committee on Education held in Parliament on Friday (10), Minister Gunawardena said that the need for a national policy to recruit persons to the teaching service had been there for decades.

 He also pointed out that there was a need to formulate a proper system to fill the vacancies of principals in schools with qualified teachers.

 While claiming that resolving the current teacher salary anomaly is a serious problem, State Minister Susil Premajayantha said that the process of locating teachers should also be streamlined. The State Minister also stated that a programme was underway to transform the teacher training National Colleges of Education into Universities.

 Minister Premajayantha said that there were 240,000 teachers in 10,155 schools across the country teaching 4,300,000 children. The student to teacher ratio was 17:1. Although that ratio was for the national level, there was a disparity when it came to schools which had less than 100 students. There the student- teacher ratio was 7:1, the State Minister pointed out.

 Addressing the committee through online technology, Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that the official languages are in a state of decline. He also drew the attention of the Committee to the fact that English was becoming the language of education in the country at present.

 It was revealed at the Consultative Committee on Education that the report of the technical committee for the inclusion of law as a subject in the school syllabus would be submitted to the relevant subcommittee within two weeks. It was also suggested that law should be included not as a separate subject but as part of the subject of Civic education. Member of Parliament Dr. Harini Amarasuriya said that it was very important to include children’s rights in it as well. She pointed out that the relationship between law and society should also be reflected in it.

 It was also discussed at this Committee that a proper programme should be implemented to make permanent the graduate trainees attached to schools. MPs brought to the notice of the committee that out of 60,000 graduates, 18,000 were currently attached to schools and the methodology proposed to make them permanent was problematic.

 State Minister Jayantha Samaraweera stated that some of the graduates who were currently attached to schools do not like the methodology.

MP Chandima Weerakkody pointed out the need to implement a proper programme to protect the dignity of teachers.

 Further discussions were held at the Committee on the School Selection Programme for the project to establish 1000 National Schools. The Committee Chairman informed the Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Prof. Kapila Perera to take measures and explain the matter to the Committee.

 State Minister Sitha Arambepola, Members of the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Education, MPs Anupa Pasqual, Yadamini Gunawardena and Premanath C. Dolawatta were also present at the Committee Meeting. Meanwhile Minister Douglas Devananda, State Ministers Vijitha Berugoda and Piyal Nishantha as well as Parliamentarians Upul Mahendra Rajapaksa and Gevindu Kumaratunga joined the Committee via online technology.

 Officials of the Ministry of Education and related institutions also participated in this committee meeting through online technology.

 The Committee which met after a six months lapse was the first Ministerial Consultative Committee Meeting of the Ministry of Education held after the appointment of Dinesh Gunawardena as the Minister of Education, Parliament sources said.

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Sacked PUCSL Chairman fights back, writes to Prez



Former PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayake yesterday showing the media a document at a news conference called by him in Colombo. Pic by Kamal Bogoda

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Janaka Ratnayake yesterday wrote to President Wickremesinghe denying all allegations levelled against him.

Earlier in the day, Ratnayake received a note informing of his removal from the PUCSL.

“I write in response to your above captioned letter dated 22 March 2023. At the outset I strongly deny all and singular the several allegations contained against me in your letter under reference,” he said.

The PUCSL Chairman said his letter contained a detailed response..

“I was given an extremely short period of one week, despite the serious consequences that could flow from the misconceived allegations made against me,” Ratnayake said.

He said that the PUCSL was not a rubber stamp for proposals put forward by the Electricity Industry including the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).

“But the PUCSL should duly exercise its powers and functions as an independent regulator even when the consequent decision reached by it may be one which is not desired by the CEB or the Government,” he said.

Ratnayake said that the PUCSL acting independently has resulted in the Minister of Power and Energy being unable at times to act at his whim and fancy.

“This appears to have irked the Minister of Power and Energy, and also the President. In May 2022, the secretary to the President had phoned my personal assistant instructing her to “ask the Chairman of the Commission to refrain from making any announcement or statement contradicting the speech made by the Prime Minister.”

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Singer Sri Lanka bags top awards



Singer Sri Lanka PLC clinched the People’s Brand of the Year and Durable Brand of the Year Awards for the 17th consecutive year at the SLIM-KANTAR Awards held at the Monarch Imperial on 27th March, 2023. Singer Sri Lanka PLC Chairman Mohan Pandithage receiving the award from Chief Guest, Sri Lanka Test Cricket Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Guest of Honour, Past President-SLIM Kalana Ratnayake at the glittering ceremony. Singer Sri Lanka PLC CEO Mahesh Wijewardene, Marketing Director, Shanil Perera, Marketing Manager, Piyum Jayathilaka and other senior officials were present. Pic by Kamal Bogoda

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SJB trade unionist calls for significant fuel price reduction



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Convenor of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) trade union wing, Samagi Joint Trade Union Alliance, Ananda Palitha yesterday (28) said that with the appreciation of rupee against the USD and comparatively lower crude prices in the world market, the government could reduce the price of litre of petrol (92 Octane) and diesel by as much as Rs 100 and petrol (95 Octane) by Rs 125.

The trade unionist said that the price of a litre of kerosene, furnace oil and naphtha, too, could be decreased by Rs 100 each.

Responding to The Island queries, the former Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) employee said that fuel prices should be revised as fast as possible for the benefit of the public.

Lanka IOC should follow the new pricing formula, the former UNP trade union leader said, strongly urging the government to re-examine the petroleum sector. It would be pertinent to mention that petroleum and water sectors, too, should be brought under the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in terms of PUC Act No 35 of 2002, Ananda Palitha said.

Former Power and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said that he was out of the country.

Therefore, I couldn’t comment without studying the latest developments.

Ananda Palitha found fault with political parties represented in parliament for the inordinate delay in fully implementing the Act that was meant to regulate three vital sectors. The PUC received authority to regulate the electricity industry, in terms of Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009, Palitha said. However, respective Acts, pertaining to Petroleum and Water, were yet to be passed by Parliament, the trade union leader said pointing out that the delay on the part of the parliament seemed deliberate.

Asked whether they opposed the further liberalisation of retail market with the entry of more foreign companies, Ananda Palitha said that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was exploiting the current political-economic-social crisis to advance the original agenda of Wickremesinghe.

“We are facing a frightening situation,” the SJB activist said, urging political parties represented in parliament to review rapid developments taking place. The entry of four foreign entities should be examined against the backdrop of Lanka IOC further expanding its operations here, Ananda Palitha said.

The outspoken trade unionist warned against moves to gradually weaken Sapugaskanda oil refinery to pave the way for increased import of refined products. “The refinery that launched operations in 1969 during Dudley Senbanayake’s era received the attention of President J.R. Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa. But, since then no President paid attention to the facility,” Ananda Palitha said. Instead of enhancing its capacity, successive governments were working overtime to weaken it for obvious reasons, the trade unionist said.

According to him, all were attacking Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera over the continuing crisis in the petroleum sector. “We should question President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Cabinet-of-Ministers headed by the President and the relevant Sectoral Oversight Committee,” Ananda Palitah said.

Ananda Palitha said that political parties as well as some trade unions should accept responsibility for the pathetic situation in the petroleum sector. For want of a cohesive action plan, politicians and interested parties regardless of on and off setbacks were able to pursue their agendas detrimental to Sri Lanka, he said.

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