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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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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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