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OUSL complets annual research sessions online

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The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) successfully completed its Annual Research Sessions (OURS 2020) on 12th and 13th November as a fully online event.

The OUSL said in a media statement:

“OURS 2020 was initially planned as an ‘in-person’ event. However, when the public health situation in the country again became critical in October, the organizing committee of OURS 2020, deftly transferred the entire event online – in a short span of time – underscoring the university’s unique ability to deliver academic programs remotely. In addition to being the only university in Sri Lanka with a dedicated Centre for Education Technology and Media, the university’s academic and support staff are specifically trained in remote delivery of academic programs using a range of methods – online, television, radio and print. This combination of technical infrastructure and skilled human resources allows the institution to adapt to challenging circumstances like the current one posed by the Corona Virus pandemic.

“This year’s research sessions were conducted under the themes of: Open and Distance Learning, Humanities and Social Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Health Sciences, Education, Law, Management, Biological Sciences, Agriculture and English Language Teaching. A total of 165 submissions were received and 114 papers were selected for presentation following a process of rigorous peer review. The different thematic strands were conducted as parallel online sessions using Zoom technology which led to vibrant scholarly discussions on a range of topics. A special feature of this year’s research was the significant focus of how the pandemic has impacted education. Such research ranged from critical discussions on online and remote education to the significant inequities in education access and delivery caused by the pandemic. This emphasis on the pandemic demonstrated the commitment of academics in the Sri Lankan higher education system to address contextually significant social issues and deploy research to understand and resolve such issues. Papers were presented by Open University staff as well as staff from other state and non-state universities and higher education institutions from across the country.

“The research sessions were inaugurated with a welcome address by the Research Director of the University, Prof. Shyama Weerakoon who underscored the importance of fostering a research culture. She also appreciated the university-wide team effort that facilitated the online delivery of the research sessions. Prof. Anbahan Ariyadurai, the Vice Chancellor of the university, addressing the event, emphasized the resilience and adaptability of the institution in this challenging time.

“The Chief Guest of the research sessions was Dr. Priyanie Amarasinghe, Emeritus Scientist at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the keynote speech on the first day was delivered by Dr. Panduka Karunanayake of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. The day-two keynote was delivered by Dr. Prathapasinghe Dharmawansa of the Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa. The event was live cast for the students of the university and the general public through the Open University’s YouTube channel and an electronic version of the proceedings of the research sessions will be soon available for free download from the university website.”



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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