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.
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
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.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
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.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
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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