|Monday, 25 October 2004|
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A bill has been passed by Parliament making the possession of a National Identity Card obligatory as a qualification to vote in the next National Elections.
The Opposition Parties protested against the Bill on the grounds that many citizens did not possess an ID card, about 15 - 30 per cent of the population, the figures vary. The Bill was passed with the proviso that cards be issued to all voters before the Elections, so as not to disenfranchise a part of the population.
Among those who do not possess an ID card are many dwellers in the slums and tenements of our cities like Colombo and Kandy. These persons live in conditions where they cannot preserve documents. These documents are damaged by floods and fire, or are destroyed by vermin. They do not possess lockers to store them safely.
When they go to the Department of Registration of Persons, they are asked to produce an Original Birth Certificate. These they often do not have. They are then asked to go to the nearest District Registrar's office or Pradeshiya Sabha office for the Certificate.
They cannot obtain such documents as they often do not remember the exact date of birth or the place. The only way out is to search past Registers on the payment of a search fee or swear an Affidavit before a Notary. Persons of a humble state of life do not know how to do this.
The only way out is to hold an Emergency District Secretariat near the slums and to provide IDs on the testimony of the Grama Sevaka Niladhari, the local Police and some senior citizens of the area to long-standing residents of these gardens. At least a temporary ID card can be provided as was done in the North and East after the cessation of hostilities.
The votes of the poor people are important. They should vote for Members of Parliament or local bodies who will work for the alleviation and elimination of poverty.
REV. FR. DALSTON FORBES OMI - Colombo 15.
It was interesting to read a letter (GBS of Col. 4) suggesting that many seek foreign accountancy qualifications because these qualifications are marketed better than the local qualifications.
The purpose of this letter is to guide those who may have been gullible enough to believe the writer, which may impact upon decisions taken by them to pursue foreign accountancy qualifications.
Although it is not the case let us assume that due to the effective promotional campaigns of the foreign accountancy bodies the employers have been gullible enough to recruit foreign qualified accountants.
Every letter of appointment of an accountant securing employment after qualification has a clause containing a period of probation. Anyone who knows the private sector also knows well what happens at the end of the period of probation if you do not perform. You may have the best qualifications in the world but still you get fired.
But in the public sector, it is different. Once you get a letter of appointment it is lifetime employment. Regrettably those with foreign qualifications do not apply for Accountants jobs in the public sector to begin their career.
Therefore the parents and the students should realize if you could afford a foreign accountancy qualification that should be the preferred choice. For the simple reason you stand a better chance of securing employment abroad.
A less affluent parent has a choice either to send your daughter abroad to work as a housemaid or as an Accountant. The foreign exchange accountants earn abroad is far greater than what is spent by them for exams and membership fees.
Besides for migrating to a developed country as a professional, a local qualification is not going to help. Professionals who migrate send money to support their kith and kin in Sri Lanka. This is all in foreign exchange.
Many members of the premier local accountancy body the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka resident abroad have given up their membership consequent to securing foreign qualifications.
As an Accountant my advice to those seeking an accountancy career in the Sri Lankan private sector is, it does not matter whether your qualification is local or foreign as the syllabi are comprehensive for all, but develop a sound knowledge of English and communication skills.
Because it is the superior English and communication skills of the foreign qualified accountants, which make them the preferred choice in the private sector and not that the employers are gullible to believe anything foreign is superior.
NELUM JAYADEWA - Ratmalana.
In a letter PW from Panadura has quite correctly pointed out that the lawyer and the economics teacher who was entrusted with our economy under the previous regime ruined our economy.
Incapable of collecting Rs. 200 billion due to the State, they granted a tax amnesty. Fortunately, the economy is now in the hands of a doctor and a budding economist both very capable persons according to PW.
We should not pass judgment at this stage. Let's take stock of economic data at the end of two years and evaluate performance. It is needless to say every meaningful economic measurement would have deteriorated under the hands of this capable duo.
PW would know it well, but his party affiliation does not permit him to accept it. But of course they will have to be excused, as all the inefficiencies will be attributed to the drought, floods and the escalation of world fuel prices.
But how much out of the Rs. 200 billion will this duo collect. The drought etc. has no impact on this issue. When capable people do not perform it is sabotage, they are traitors to the nation.
RANKOTH PREMATHILAKE - Colombo 15.
Teachers who have been serving in some remotest schools in Sabaragamuwa province received letters in the first week of August this year calling for an interview to be selected for an English Camp. In that letter it was stated that those who wished to come to the interview should submit an essay under the topic "Why I like to take part in the English Camp".
The selected teachers were given a four-day training by Tucker McCravy an American teacher, the founder of the English camp at the Ratnaloka Tourist Inn Ratnapura. It was a superlative training every Sri Lankan teacher of English should undergo because the personnel who are responsible for the improvement of English education in Sri Lanka lack new interesting methods of teaching English as a second language.
A few days later, the teachers trained at Ratnaloka Inn were taken to the 8th annual English camp held at Kg/Mw/Pinnawala Central College Rambukkana. The camp was scheduled to be held from August 22nd to 29th but the teachers were asked to be present at the location on August 21 to do preparation.
On August 22, about 150 students were welcomed by McCravy with the icebreaker 'Boom Chick A Boom'. It was a miracle that he could make them utter some English words. They shouted using English. They came off their shell. All the children were overjoyed. The students who had never spoken in English due to shyness started shouting in English.
The students as well as teachers were given some rules and regulations to follow until they leave the camp on the final day. After the day's work, boys and girls must go to their respective hostels. Neither students nor teachers would disrespect cultural norms. They should be punctual for all activities and Sinhala/Tamil can't be spoken in the camp.
Every student was given an 'English necklace'. During the period they stayed in the camp the necklace should be worn. If they were found speaking in Sinhala or Tamil, the necklace would be clipped. On the final day the English necklace competition was held. Group wise all the necklaces were tied together to make one string and the group, which got the longest line, would be the winner.
The most important thing in this English camp was its highly interesting lessons. All the lessons were planned to make every child speak in English. The teachers were equipped with all materials they needed to do the lessons effectively.
When the lessons were going on, McCravy went to the classrooms and inspected. After the first session in the morning everyday he held a meeting for the teachers who did the lessons and showed errors if there were any. The day's work ended at 9 p.m. Thereafter the teachers' meeting was held for day's evaluation. Everything done during the day was discussed and highlighted.
The following day's work was planned thereupon. It was wonderful to see some teachers planning and getting ready for their lessons for the next day even after midnight.
When some went to bed it was about 2 a.m. Tucker the leader of the camp went to bed at about 2.30 a.m. after finishing the work for the next day. Everyone was up by 5.30 a.m. to get ready for the day's work. This was a great experience and a good training for the teachers.
McCravy's indefatigable effort to make the camp a success should be appreciated by all Sri Lankan parents since their children are being highly benefitted.
T. B. V. BASNAYAKE - Balangoda.
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