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No decision by Education Ministry to deploy Air Force personnel as IT and English teachers, says GL

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By Saman Indrajith

Education Minister Prof G.L. Peiris told Parliament yesterday that his Ministry had not made any decision to deploy Air Force personnel as teachers at schools.

The Minister said so responding to a question raised by SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijeratne, who said that there were media reports quoting teachers’ unions that Air Force personnel had been deployed to teach English and IT in schools at Kebitigollewa and Vavuniya; the Secretary to the Ministry of Education had accepted a proposal by the Commander of the Air force. The use of military personnel would violate the provisions of the Teacher Service Minute and there would be questions regarding the quality of education, the MP said.

MP Wijeratne said that the teacher-student ratio of the country was 20:1. “So every 20 students have a teacher and that shows there is no such teacher shortage but a problem of the Ministry failing to manage the numbers. During the time of the yahapalana government we introduced a national policy as regards teacher transfers. There are many other persons who have completed teacher training and are awaiting appointments. In such a situation, how could the government deploy Air Force personnel as school teachers.”

Minister Prof. Peiris said that there had been no such decision made by the Ministry of Education, but he would look into the allegation made by the unions.

 Responding to a question raised by SJB Ratnapura District MP Hesha Withanage, the Minister said that the Education Ministry had taken several initiatives to eliminate shortages in rural schools.

“We took action to improve conditions in rural schools. We increased facilities and improved projects such as e-thaksalawa and Gurugedara to rectify disparities. We know that there is more work to be done and have taken action to create equal opportunities for all students. Some of the programmes we implemented have yielded positive and progressive results. For example, there were ten students who scored 200 out of 200 marks at the last Grade Five scholarship examination. All those are from outstations.”



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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