|Monday, 28 June 2004|
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During the recent past, we have witnessed increases of bus fares on so many occasions in sympathy with the increased cost of fuel, spares etc.
On all occasions the bus fares were increased by adding a certain percentage to the fares existed before the increase. This has resulted in bus fares that have very little relationship to the distance travelled. This in turn has resulted in an unfair deal for the passenger.
When the bus services were nationalised in 1958, the fare charged had a distinct relationship to the distance travelled. In most routes in low lying areas, the fare was 03.3 cts per mile approximately and around 04 cts in the hill country routes.
At the time, the lowest fare was only 05 cts, children being charged only 03 cts as half fare. A passenger could travel from Bambalapitiya to Kollupitiya for 05 cts. Today one has to pay Rs. 3 for the same distance.
The method used to increase the bus fares during the past several years has negated the relationship that existed between the distance travelled and the fare charged.
This method has been resorted to since it was easy to calculate even though the result was unfair from the point of view of the passengers. This anomaly could be eliminated only if the bus fares were calculated on a pro-rata basis to the distance covered.
The fare could be fixed at, say 60 or 70 cts per Kilo Metre; having the lowest fare at Rs. 2 with which a passenger could travel around 3 Kms. Thereafter, the fare could be increased by slabs of one rupee, thereby avoiding the use of cents in bus fares altogether. However, this may need re-marking the bus fare sections in bus routes.
It is not such a bad idea to rationalise the entire structure of bus fares as suggested since the majority of our people are going to use omni buses for their day-to-day travel for a very long time to come.
K. M. GUNARATNE - Moratuwa.
Recently I visited home for a short holiday. I had only one medium sized luggage with a 'Fragile' tag attached to it. I had some breakable items in my luggage luckily not so expensive.
The luggage started to come through after a long wait. The rate of luggage delivery was on the average 10 pieces every 15 minutes. As the luggage came through, we could hear the porters on the other side of the wall dropping bags that made loud noises. Some bags were just dumped on one another and some were damaged in the handling process.
This being a late night flight the passengers were tired and looked eager to get out of the airport to meet their loved ones.
The difference in the quality of service between the port of embarkation and disembarkation was so remarkably distinct that our foreign tourist visitors looked on with amazement whilst the locals looked so frustrated.
The Sri Lanka airport tax is just about the same as what other Asian airports like Singapore's Changi, Malaysia's Sepang or Hong Kong's Chep Lap Kok charge.
However the quality of services in Colombo airport is so appalling. Our airport needs not be ultra modern like some of those Asian airports, but we certainly can provide the basic equipment and good quality service for the tax collected from the passengers.
The trouble as it would appear is that people are too quick to blame everything on the politicians and politics. Little do people now care about their responsibility.
I hope the responsible staff and the management team will formulate some action plan to improve the quality of services at our airport.
YOOSUFF ALI - Singapore.
'A 100 years to bloom, Massa!' said a Colonial Master's servant, observing the master admiring a distant flaming gorgeous flamboyant tree in full plumage and foliage against the back-drop of a portrait like bluish-grey misty mountain. They were on one of their trips in Africa. The simple and assertive mumble was 'well ma' boy get some sapling at the earliest, will you!'(RD).
To get to our environs, it was about 7-8 years back, that one of our party, one of several Sri Lankan visitors, made observations in writing before he left our shores for home to the then Municipal Council of Wattala of the desolate and the unenviable condition of the famous Uswethikeiyawa beach, the supposedly haven for salubrious sea bathers and picnickers, especially the tourists.
With the passage of time one feels now that the spot must be most pleasant and more congenial and convivial with many spaced out suitable trees especially for shade and of course, for the sea frontage and beauty itself.
The time of our visit it was pure scorching sand stretches minus any shade or privacy - our planned al fresco 'spread-out' 'gone with the wind', a providential good Samaritan local, typical of Sri Lankan hospitality gave 'open-house' et al to us, especially the ladies for their various amenities.
The Tourist Board and all organisations involved with ecology and the environment should be doing a great job of giving greenery as can be seen in many places.
Nevertheless, one feels that de facto individuals and institutions interested genuinely of the future could unwittingly upset balance of nature - imagine a jak tree in the heart of the metropolis or the Galle Road.
A well planned and phased out network to see a really verdant and luscious Sri Lanka should be on the cards by the new Ministry concerned taking over and setting in motion the infrastructure under them.
Here's wishes for still more beautiful Sri Lanka to come.
W. Meadows - Nelumpura.
Your editorial of June 18 'Towards quality primary education' is an honest assessment of the present state of many schools. Ideally schools need a massive financial investment to begin to address some of the problems.
Since this is not imminent or possible, what are the alternatives? Too many schools do not have a culture of improvement, and are content to continue in an unsatisfactory way, and unnoticed gradual decline.
The high noise level in many schools, which have no walls between classrooms, prevents efficient learning. This could be improved and I have visited schools in other countries that have addressed this problem.
Many classrooms have inadequately small blackboards in poor condition. A classroom that is dirty and unattractive cannot be an enjoyable environment for teacher or pupil. How many schools have plans for improvement that involve teachers, pupils and parents?
We should not be surprised if there is increasing indiscipline and unsatisfactory behaviour among some youth. A culture of failure exists in many schools. The annual scholarship examination is often a useless exercise, since not a single success has been registered for years in a high number of schools.
Schools subject their Grade 5 pupils to intensive cramming, often followed by further cramming in private classes.
In reality, this has little advantage for most pupils, and most will still fail.
At O/L examinations, again many pupils experience failure, so leave school after 11 years with little to show for it.
My main professional concern is with improving English Language teaching. Over 80 per cent of pupils fail the examination despite over 1000 hours school - tuition over 9 years.
In all subjects parents are aware of this failure in their children's schools and a parallel education system has been created in the establishment of hundreds of private tutorial classes in every village and town.
Parents often spend scarce money, which should be used in better ways, to counter the failure of some Government schools.
A highly centralised education system allows for little local initiative. With over 10,000 schools to manage, the Government has an impossible task to initiate the necessary changes to bring improvement.
At a local level, directors and managers need to be free to innovate and make real decisions.
One size does not fit all and Government action plans, committees and seminars followed by the inevitable policy documents may very well leave schools in ten years time the same as they are now.
With educational matters so uppermost in the President's concerns, it remains to be seen if these can be translated to real visible action.
DOUGLAS KING - Kandy.
We are very glad that All-Island Central Colleges Past Pupils' Association has launched a scholarship scheme for Central College pupils.
First, the Association hopes to grant two scholarships to each Central College. The Union expect to begin this scheme with Central Colleges where Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara Commemoration celebrations were held.
Last year the function was held at Akuramboda Central College. So two deserving students from that college received their scholarships from two well-wishing past pupils of the school. One student will get Rs. 400 for a month and ten months per year from Year 7 to Year 11.
The Union has a separate account called 'Scholarship Fund'. So any past pupil or well-wisher can contribute any amount to that account.
Treasurer will issue due receipts for the money he receives. One can send his or her contributions to the Secretary. If anybody wishes to sponsor one child from Year 7 to Year 11, he can do so also.
So we should like to request past pupils of Central Colleges to undertake one student's education from Year 7 to Year 11 or contribute any amount and assist to make an underprivileged intelligent student a useful citizen of this country.
It is also worth mentioning here that most of the prominent persons either in professional, administrative, educative or commercial establishments are the products of Central Colleges. It is noteworthy too to state that though most of the Central Colleges were opened after the Free Education Bill was passed in 1944, by 1955, 45 per cent of the university admissions were from Central Colleges.
So, it is our duty to assist at least a few more, underprivileged students to shine in life and render some service to the nation. If further information is needed, please contact the President Dr. A.W. Mohottala at 25/5, Kirimandala Mawatha, Nawala, Rajagiriya (Phone 011-2862063) or Secretary J.H. Jayasekara at 8/24, Munasinghe Lane, Talawilawatte, Homagama (Phone 011-2855058).
A. W. G. MUDIYANSE - Katugastota.
The application issued to retired teachers for rectifying their pension anomalies has about thirty (30) questions to be answered.
Are these bureaucrats not aware that they are asking these 'historical' questions from old people most of whom are incapable of writing, hearing and with weak memories?
Why cannot these bureaucrats work on the information available in their files?
'Nokerena vedakamata konduru thel hath pattayakuth titak'.
DESHAPRIYA RAJAPAKSHA - Colombo 6.
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