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Senior Prof. Nilanthi de Silva new VC of Kelaniya University

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Senior Prof. Nilanthi de Silva has been appointed Vice- Chancellor of University of Kelaniya with effect from last Friday. She assumed duties as the first female Vice Chancellor of the Kelaniya University.

Present at the occasion were Senior Prof. P. S. Wijesinghe, former acting Vice- Chancellor & Dean- Faculty of Medicine, Senior Prof. Ariyarathna Jayamaha, Dean- Faculty of Graduate Studies, Senior Prof. S. R. D. Kalingamudali, Dean- Faculty of Science, Prof. M. M. Gunathilaka, Dean- Faculty of Social Science, Senior Lecturer Dr. P.N.D. Fernando, Dean- Faculty of Commerce & Management Studies, Senior Lecturer Sudath Senarath, Dean- Faculty of Humanities, Senior Lecturer Dr. Gamini Wijayarathna, Dean- Faculty of Computing & Technology, Directors & Chairmen of Centers & Units, Heads of Departments, other academic staff members, W.M. Karunaratne, Registrar and non-academic staff members.

Prof Nilanthi Renuka de Silva graduated with an MBBS from the University of Colombo in 1986 and went on to obtain a Masters in Medical Parasitology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK and MD and Board Certification in Medical Parasitology, from Colombo University’s Postgraduate Institute of Medicine. She was a Commonwealth Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK in 1995/96, and a FAIMER Fellow at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington DC, USA, in 2004/05.After a brief stint as a lecturer in Parasitology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya in 1991-93, Prof de Silva moved to the newly established Faculty of Medicine of the University of Kelaniya in Ragama in 1993.

The main focus of her research has been on soil-transmitted helminth infections and other neglected tropical diseases. She has published extensively in this field, in peer-reviewed scientific journals including the Lancet, Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, Annals of Tropical Medicine & Parasitology, Tropical Medicine & International Health and the Ceylon Medical Journal. She has over 5,000 citations of her work on Google Scholar and an h-index of 27. She is an expert advisor on Neglected Tropical Diseases to the World Health Organization, serving both WHO Headquarters and the South East Asia Regional Office in many different capacities since 2000.

She has served in a similar advisory capacity to other international entities: Children Without Worms at the Task Force for Global Health in Atlanta, USA; the Partnership for Child Development at Imperial College London; and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative in Geneva, Switzerland. Prof. de Silva has also pursued a long-standing interest in the education of health professionals and quality assurance in Higher Education. She has served as a member of the Internal Quality Assurance Unit of the University of Kelaniya since its inception in 2005. She was appointed Chairman of the committee managing the IQAU in 2010, and subsequently, Director, Quality Assurance Centre of the University of Kelaniya, during the period 2015 – 2018.

She has served as a member of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, and as its Vice-President. She has worked with the SLMC to develop Standards for Accreditation of Medical Schools in Sri Lanka, as well as with the Quality Assurance & Accreditation Council of the UGC to develop the Subject Benchmark Statement in Medicine for use in Sri Lankan universities. She was a member of the UGC’s Standing Committee on Medical & Dental Sciences from 2009 to 2018 and a member of the Standing Committee on Quality Assurance from 2015 onwards. She has supported the PGIM of the University of Colombo as a member of the Board of Study in Microbiology, the Specialty Board in Medical Education, the Board of Management and its Academic Affairs, Accreditation and Examinations Committee. Prof. de Silva was the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya from 2012 to 2018 and worked as Director of the Quality Assurance Council of the University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka from December 2018 to August 2020. (IN)



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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