|Tuesday, 7 October 2003|
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Letters were published in Daily News on Autism and the problems with autism face in our country. I would like to add that one of the biggest problems an autistic person will have is employment. It is exasperating if you are disabled because there is no hope.
As far as I am aware, not many business organisations have special schemes of inclusion for people with disabilities. So how on earth is an autistic adult or young person ever going to hold down a 9 to 5 job without such a scheme. The Government needs to take ownership of this problem.
Will the minister concerned launch an investigation into whether people with disabilities have genuine access to employment in companies, banks, airlines, travel agencies, post offices, shops, hotels and tourist resorts, business houses - or is everything only geared for those who are able-bodied. Are people with disabilities being prevented from getting into the job market on the grounds of their disabilities. It is interesting that the business world in Colombo has stayed silent on the matter. Which tycoon will have the guts to speak out? Will they stand up for the Disabled?
Do people with Autism have life chances in terms of accessing employment in Sri Lanka? I think not. It is time that the politicians practise what they preach to the masses and provide employment opportunities for people with autism after all autistic people are also members of the masses.
On one hand you can't say 'we are doing everything for the people,' and on the other hand you are banishing sections of the people to life in a dark hole just because they are disabled. I fear we need to legislate because organisations will not have the time or the inclination to help the less fortunate - they are too busy making money for money's sake in Sri Lanka. The caring face of our community has been lost in the drive for 'wealth creation'.
HARSHINI WIJEYSEKERA, Colombo 3
When the University Grants Commission (UGC) invites applications from A/L qualified candidates for university entrance, the UGC asks to attach an O/L results schedule with the application of the applicants those who apply to law. To be selected to Law Faculty, the UGC asks to possess a credit pass for O/L English.
It is obviously acceptable that rural students are very poor in English. It is because of poor standard of teaching of English. Despite they are poor in English, they perform very well in their A/L subjects.
Great many students selected from rural areas for reading university degree course in English medium, even in Medical stream, do not possess good results for English in their O/Ls. But, after having an intensive English training, they show their best in English.
They perform better than students from cities after following the intensive course in English for a period of three months. Hence, English is not a fair tool to assess the talent of students.
Lot of qualified students those who could be selected to Law Faculty are not selected as they do not possess credit pass in English. Therefore, their future life is diverted in other way even though they are very talented and skilled to do law. Actually, this is an unfair way of selecting students for Law Faculty. It is a non-productive way of selection.
It suppresses the talent and skill of rural students. It shows a discrimination on the students from rural as well as backward areas.
It is possible, if these students are given a chance to follow an English course for a short period, they will certainly become very fluent in English.
Consequently, this primitive system of selecting students to Law Faculty should be reformed forthwith. If the UGC wishes, a special English training program could be implemented to develop the existing English knowledge of those students. It may be either the intensive English course or the GELT course. These students will dedicate their times to become very fluent in English.
M. C. M. ZAKEEL, University of Peradeniya
Applications were called for posts of Professor, Senior Lecturer and Lecturer (Probationary) in the Faculty of Agriculture of Rajarata University (RU) by an advertisement in Daily News of 15 Sept. 2003. According to the present regulations, the minimum academic qualifications to be appointed as a Professor, are a first degree with at least a second class, a postgraduate degree and ten years of experience in teaching/research after obtaining the postgraduate degree.
However the Registrar of RU has made it easier to become a Professor, as according to the advertisement indicated above, simply postgraduate candidates (?) are given preference for the post of Professor, and a class in the first degree, a postgraduate degree and ten years experience are not necessary.
To apply for the post of Senior Lecturer/Lecturer (Probationary), according to the advertisement, one does not need a class in the first degree, but according to the existing regulations, a class in the first degree is necessary for appointment to a Senior Lecturer/Probationary Lecturer. It looks like that at RU, the selection criteria for academic posts have been considerably reduced. Is it to help some selected people?
Further according to the advertisement there is one post of Senior Lecturer to be selected for one out of six fields of specialisation and there is one post of Lecturer (Probationary) to be selected for one out of eight fields of specialisation. Normally before calling for applications for academic posts, the adminstration decides the fields of specialisation for which staff are going to be selected.
Apparently no such decision has been taken by the administration of RU. The advertisement indicated above is extremely confusing and misleading, indicating that there is no proper plan in the Faculty of Agriculture. Could the Registrar of Rajarata University who has inserted the advertisement, please clarify for the benefit of the prospective applicants?
This is with reference to an article by Mr. Bartholomeusz under the heading Animals and Children (DN Sep. 16). I am writing this as an office bearer of KACPAW (Kandy Association for Community Protection through Animal Welfare) to clarify the objectives of the organization. As the name suggests we work for community protection through animal welfare.
We certainly have not got our priorities wrong as Mr. Bartholomeusz suggests. It is correct that the State spends Rs. 200 million annually on the anti rabies programme but the reality is that 80% of this amount is spent on humans who are bitten by dogs suspected to be rabid. (Incidentally this money is not spent by Animal Welfare organizations as he suggests) The rationale behind our thinking is to save all this money for our country to be used in Mr. Bartholomeusz's words for the 'thousands of starving men, women and children islandwide, desperately in need of food, clothing and shelter'.
The Anti Rabies programme has gone on for several decades and rabies is still a deadly killer. We at KACPAW are working towards wiping out this menace from our country forever. Rabies can be wiped out from our country just as smallpox was wiped out from the face of the earth. Sri Lanka is surrounded by the ocean and well protected from migratory animals. In order to achieve this goal we have a 3-pronged programme: 1. Sterilization, 2. Vaccination, 3. Creating awareness in the community about responsible pet ownership.
Finally I would like to comment on the serious charge made by Mr. Bartholomeusz that "Office bearers of these Animal Associations appear to be well off, having transport, vehicles and other perks at Association's expense". This is an irresponsible comment made without knowing the facts. KACPAW functions entirely on donations made by kind-hearted people all over the country and a handful of extremely hardworking dedicated members. We see to it that these funds given to us for the care of animals, go directly to the cause.
The active members of the organization not only sacrifice their time and leisure, but also contribute from their own pockets for their transport and other incidental expenses, as they believe strongly in the cause. Thanks to the media, who appreciate our work and have supported us by giving free publicity (Mr. Bartholomeusz is right on that).
Incidentally it is the 'haves' who can spare a thought for the 'have-nots' the latter being enmeshed in their struggle for survival. Is it wrong to do what we are doing for our country?
PAT JAYATILLEKE, Treasurer, KACPAW, Kandy
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