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Role of parents in New Normal Education

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BY Dr. RASANJALEE ABEYWICKRAMA 

(DBA, M.Sc App. Gen, B.Sc BT, SSSUNFO)

COVID-19 pandemic has hit almost all countries in the world, and its impact on all sectors including education is substantial. Education helps reduce inequalities and reach gender equality, and is crucial to fostering tolerance and more peaceful societies. Education enables upward socioeconomic mobility and is a key to escaping poverty.

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly, including Sri Lanka, endorsed a new Development Agenda. The United Nations identified three pillars of sustainable development – Economic, Social and Environmental – and has encapsulated 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 160 targets. The fourth among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. COVID -19 pandemic caused by a tiny virus, which cannot be even seen by naked eyes, has disrupted achieving this goal to a great extent.

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, a majority of countries announced the temporary closure of schools, impacting more than 91 per cent of students worldwide. By April 2020, close to 1.6 billion children and youth were out of school. In Sri Lanka the 1st case of coronavirus was reported on 11th March. Subsequently, the whole country was kept on a lockdown, which almost went on for a period of 2 months. During this period a considerable number of people lost their income. However, it was possible to get rid of this virus from the local community. There onwards no cases were reported within the country, until 3rd of October when a new case was reported from Minuwangoda. Since then the number affected has increased to around 2,500.

Rapid spread of COVID -19 resulted in closure of schools and other educational institutes. In view of this, many educational organizations have resorted to online education. Most challenging task we face is that there are many limiting factors in this form of education. We need to understand that all children are not privileged with high end technological facilities, including broadband Wi-Fi connections, laptops, computers or smartphones. There are many parents who are struggling to provide these to their kids, and sadly this creates a big space between children who have the privilege of using modern technology and those who do not have the same due to their financial situation. Children who have special needs are affected by these online teaching. It is highly impossible to point out exact solutions to these issues, but parents can try different teaching aids and methodologies, with more active engagement as much as possible. Those children with special needs and have the privilege of using modern technology may find on-line teaching / learning a better option, due to less physical disturbance from other students.

Parents have an important role to play during the period when their children are at home without attending schools, by resorting to homeschooling. This has become a popular topic during this lock down where most of the time parents, especially mothers, are trying to teach their sons and daughters at home. They can be taught basic facts on topics such as environmental pollution, prevention of diseases, nutrition etc. This will be of considerable importance in their future education. The best part of this situation is that, being mothers they are able to identify talents, capabilities and capacities of their own children. They will have more time to spend with their parents rather than running to a number of tuition classes. Parents need to provide support to their children to go through online schooling. If kids are very young, they need to be assisted/trained to log into systems and operate the system. This may cause problems to working parents. Our culture is still that very often grandparents are supporting family units to take care of kids, and most of them will not have necessary skills and knowledge on using modern technologies such as using computers etc. The other case is that even though parents are working from home, it will not be possible for them to log in to the school system along with their work schedule, where they might be needed online for important business meetings, at the same time the kids need them to log online. Therefore, there is a necessity to carry out evening classes.

Parents can also get their children to be involved in activities such as painting and music. Those children who have writing talents can be involved in writing essays; short stories etc. In all these activities parents have a very important role to play. It is exact that, this time we go through is temporary. Researches going around the world give us a hint of possible, effective vaccines for covid-19 will be out by January 2021. Therefore, it is needed that as adults we help our future generations to be protected and nurtured both mentally and physically during this temporary hardship.



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CB Governor: Lanka now in a position to pay for essentials

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‘Inflation will not be as high as initially expected’

Inflation will not be as high as initially expected and there are signs of economy stabilising, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe says.Dr. Weerasinghe said that during the past few months a number of initiatives had been made to improve the economy and they were yielding the desired results.

“During the last review, we thought the inflation would reach 70%. However, now we believe that the inflation will not be that high even with the electricity tariff hike,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe said that the severity of the shortage of foreign currency had lessened. The country was now in a position to import fuel, gas and medicines.

“This has become possible because of the decisions we took. Imports have decreased. Export revenue has somewhat increased. Even without short-term loans we have been able to meet our basic needs. This is a positive development,” Dr. Weerasinghe said.The CB Governor said that inflation driven by demand had lessened because the expansion of loans had been curtailed.The supply side inflation too would drop with price and foreign exchange stabilisation.

“Still the inflation is about 60% and that’s why we need to maintain the current high policy rates. Once the government adjusts the fiscal policy, tax, and presents the new budget, things will improve. I think you can also see this. We are seeing positives,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe also urged exporters to bring back the foreign exchange earnings, and that the Central Bank had taken steps to ensure that exporters abided by the CB regulations.

“The irregularities due to open accounts, hawala and undial are being controlled and the black market premium is dropping. The foreign exchange liquidity in the banking sector has increased,” he said.

The Governor added that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had made good progress. An IMF delegation was expected to visit Sri Lanka by the end of August to reach a staff-level agreement.After Sri Lanka reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF, it had to start engaging with its creditors on debt restructuring.

“Once we reach an agreement with the IMF the situation will improve further,” he added. (RK)

(See related stories in the business section)

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CID arrests Mervyn 15 years after he forcibly entered Rupavahini

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By Norman Palihawadana

Former Minister Mervyn Silva was yesterday arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for forcibly entering the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and attacking some employees there in 2007.On 27 Dec. 2007, Silva and his associates entered the SLRC premises and assaulted its news director for not airing a speech he had made in Matara.

SLRC employees held Silva incommunicado for hours, and the police intervened to secure his release. A few weeks later, some of the workers involved in the incident came under goon attacks.Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President at the time.

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Aeroflot affair: flights yet to resume; MP questions status of probe into detention of SU 289

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ByShamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka hadn’t been able yet to convince Russia to resume Aeroflot flights and tourists from there to Sri Lanka suspended in the wake of the detention of SU 289 at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on the afternoon of June 02, authoritative sources said.

Sri Lanka grappling with an unprecedented foreign exchange shortage desperately needs tourists from an important destination like Russia, which earlier accounted for a sizeable share of the incoming traffic. Responding to The Island queries, sources said that relevant authorities were in the process of looking into the issue at hand.Having summoned Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Moscow Janitha Abeywickrema Liyanage soon after the incident at the BIA, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning over the incident.

In the wake of the Russian warning, the then government took measures to lift restrictions imposed on the aircraft that was to be detained till June 16. The detained SU 289 was allowed to leave on June 06.Former Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday (18) told The Island that no holds barred investigation was required to ascertain the truth.

Lawmaker Weerasekera said that the government should inform the Parliament of the progress of the investigation and what steps it intended to take as well as measures already taken to mend relations with Russia.

The retired Navy Chief of Staff said that those in authority should investigate whether a court ruling issued in respect of a case filed by Ireland-based Celestial Aviation Trading Company Ltd., against Aeroflot had been manipulated by interested parties.

It transpired that no sooner High Court Judge, S. M. H. S.P. Sethunge, in the Commercial High Court of the Western Province, Attorney-at-Law Aruna de Silva accompanied a fiscal officer of the same Court to the BIA at lightning speed to deliver the ruling.

Lawyer de Silva appeared for the plaintiff with Avindra Rodrigo, PC, (litigation) of FJ & G.de Saram, leading law firm from the colonial times. The law firm has previously declined to comment on this matter.High Court judge Sethunga is on record as having said that he didn’t order the BIA not to permit Aeroflot SU 289 to take off on the afternoon of June 02.

Attorney-at-Law Dasun Nagasena, Coordinating Secretary to Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC yesterday (18) said that the Justice Ministry recommended action against the Attorney-at-Law to the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC. Nagasena said that the fiscal officer who served the Justice Ministry had been interdicted, pending further investigations. As regards the lawyer, it would be handled on the advice of the CJ, the official said. Responding to another query, the official said that the Justice Ministry hadn’t been informed yet of the progress of the investigations.

Ports, Shipping and Aviation Secretary K.D.S. Ruwanchandra yesterday said that ministry officials on Wednesday (17) discussed ways and means of resuming Aeroflot flights with relevant authorities, including the Russian embassy. Ruwanchandra said they were hopeful reaching a consensus on this matter soon. The official said so in response to The Island queries.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Saliya Pieris, PC, yesterday said that they could initiate an inquiry only on the basis of a formal complaint. He said so when The Island asked him whether the BASL initiated an inquiry into the lawyer’s conduct in this regard. The President’s Counsel said that normally the BASL wouldn’t launch an investigation into a matter inquired into by the CJ.

At the time of the BIA incident, Prof. G.L. Peiris had been the minister in charge of foreign affairs. Since the change of government, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has sworn in Ali Sabry, PC, as the new minister of foreign affairs.

Russia has pointed out that action was taken against SU 289 in spite of an assurance given by Sri Lanka in respect of regular flights to Colombo.Sri Lankan Airlines in late March suspended flights to Moscow in the wake of imposition of what the airline called operational restrictions in the wake of war between Russia and Ukraine.

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