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NPC warns govt. over HSZs

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The National Peace Council (NPC) has strongly criticized declaration of High Security Zones (HSZs) in Colombo at a time the country is under fire at the Geneva -based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

The following is the text of the statement issued by Dr. Jehan Perera on behalf of the NPC: “The declaration of High Security Zones in Colombo and the requirement that police should be given prior notice of public protests are indicators that the government is giving priority to quelling public protests. These decisions bolster steps already taken to restrict the protest movement by targeted arrests of its leaders even by the Prevention of Terrorism Act, by seemingly arbitrary arrests of random participants in the protest movement and by strengthening laws that further restrict the right to protest.

The protest movement came into being due to the economic difficulties that the people encountered when the dollar was devalued, imports restricted and prices shot up. It is not an artificial creation to destabilize the country. It arose due to the collapse of the economy in the context of the country’s default of its international loan repayment obligations. The protests continue due to the ongoing decline in the economic situation that is severely affecting the lives of poorer sections of the population and the lack of sensitivity on the part of the government to the people’s needs.

In this context, the government needs to heed the Human Rights Commission and Bar Association which have called on the government to withdraw its law on setting up high security zones in Colombo in a time of peace. The National Peace Council calls on the government to address the root causes of the protest movement, its call for systems change and non-corruption, and ensure that norms of good governance are strictly adhered to.

Sri Lanka is presently defending its position on human rights and governance before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. It is facing a new resolution on these issues that is stronger than any before. A negative verdict will impact on the country’s international reputation and ability to attract international support in the form of economic investments and credit lines. Overcoming these challenges is the statesmanship that was and is expected of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, to remain a democratic country without economic setbacks or international stigma.”



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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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President: SL should tap its potential to become education hub in region

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By Saman Indrajith

Sri Lanka has the potential to become a regional education hub, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said addressing a Committee Stage debate of the 2023 Budget in parliament yesterday.The President said that the way schools are conducted will change in the next 25 years.

“In 25 years, there may not be physical universities. That actually makes it easier for us to become a regional hub of education,” he said.

Wickremesinghe said a large number of students leave the country for higher education. Around three billion US dollars is sent out of the country for foreign education, he said.

The President said that if Sri Lanka becomes a regional hub for education the country can earn about USD 10 billion.

“I urge the National Council and other Parliamentary Committees to look into this,” he said.

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