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Section of SJB behind planned protest – intelligence agencies

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By Saman Indrajith

Several political parties have distanced themselves from the planned Arab Spring type protests countrywide on 03 April.

The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) itself seems to be divided over the scheduled protests. Other opposition groups including the JVP and its splinter Frontline Socialist Party called on their members not to support or participate in April 3 protests.

The conflict within the SJB started after its leader Sajith Premadasa and senior parliamentarian Dr. Rajitha Senaratne gave voice cuts in support of the protests to be held on 03 April. Social media posts of a mass protest countrywide were first circulated on Monday evening and they went viral by Tuesday evening. Large number of social media activists too shared them and put up posts in support of the protest that seemed to have come up spontaneously.

On Wednesday a Whatsapp group had been created with contact details of orgnanisers at the district level.

Meanwhile, security establishments analysing contact details of the district organisers published in whatsapp groups have found that all 25 district organisers are SJB members and some of them are in the SJB Working Group.

Party sources said that many senior SJB leaders had found fault with its leader and MP Senaratne releasing video clips inviting people to protests and agitations without a mechanism to take the organisational responsibility.

They demanded that party General Secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara hold a press conference and disassociate the party officially from the protest organised by a section of the SJB without consent from the party leadership.

Chief Opposition Whip and SJB Senior MP Lakshman Kiriella said that they had asked their members to support the protest. “This is a protest by the people. It is to express their opposition to the state of affairs in the country. As we are thinking on the same lines there is nothing wrong in our members supporting this protest,” Kiriella said, adding that the SJB was not involved in organising it.

JVP Central Committee member and former MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa said that his party had decided not to take part in the protest.



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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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