Reform higher education in Sri Lanka
I wholeheartedly welcome and acknowledge the initiative taken by Dr
Tara de Mel to restructure the higher education system in the high
schools and the College levels in Sri Lanka. It's about time, and she
deserves credit for taking on this very sensitive issue.
I am a proud graduate from the University system of Sri Lanka, with
post graduate qualifications from US universities and I work in a
scientific research environment with close affiliations to many academic
institutions and the international scientific community. Looking back at
my undergraduate days then and now, the two things that I think that
were (and are) most detrimental to the University graduates: (a) the
political interference in the administration and student activities; and
(b) the resistance by a minority, but loud segment of the undergrads to
oppose (international) standardization by encouraging competition.
Both these facts do not serve the future of the graduates well. A
good example of this is that it has become necessary for the Sri Lankan
government to create and provide jobs for some graduates. Shouldn't it
be the other way around, where the graduates have had the privilege of
college education and hence they have a competitive advantage? This in
itself shows that the curricula and training provided by the Sri Lankan
Universities need to be continuously updated and geared towards the
needs of the market place. Only an independent body of academicians and
a board of esteemed trustees can do that. In addition, as any
sociologist would agree competition also drives us humans to reach out
to higher standards of accomplishment. Let there be private government
monitored higher institutions of learning in Sri Lanka.
The involvement of politicians in the University system is deplorable
and has gone on for too long by all parties. It should be obvious by now
to our citizens that these interferences lead to nothing but disruption
in the academic calendar and fostering a true environment of learning.
The undergraduates will have plenty of opportunity to pursue their
political beliefs after they leave the University. Their mission is to
learn and become productive individuals as soon as possible. That is
their responsibility towards taxpayers, the rest of the citizens and in
my opinion themselves.
I hope Dr. de Mel succeeds in making progressive changes in our
higher education system.
DR. NIRANJAN NUGARA - USA
I wish to add my views to a letter of March 14. All trishaw drivers
have become a menace to other road users and the density of three
wheelers in the general traffic is rapidly increasing. It is a open
secret that most of them do not possess valid documents such as driving
licence, insurance certificate etc. These drivers have no road manners
at all! Wherever small spaces are found to drive thro' in heavy traffic,
they simply do.
Trishaw drivers have no habit of waiting in traffic queues like other
drivers do specially at junctions and traffic light signals etc. and
often seen crossing signals even when red lights are on.
When entering a main road they simply do it without any concentration
of traffic on the main road. Not only this but they never stick to their
side when turning to the right instead keep onto the right hand side of
the road which obstructs other vehicles.
Police constables making use of trishaws for their free
transportation is a common sight. Due to this, the general public is
under the impression that the policemen keep their eyes away whenever
threewheeler drivers are violating road rules. May I bring to the notice
of higher police authorities to my undermentioned suggestions.
1. Official transport to and from the stations should be provided for
the policemen on duty on the public roads, so that they need not depend
on other modes of transport.
2. All trishaws should be checked at random for valid documents.
3. Workshops can be organised to educate threewheeler drivers about
good behaviour and road manners.
4. A separate lane on the left side of the road can be reserved for
threewheelers (and cyclists/motor bikes) in the city limits like
commonly done in European countries.
BANDU GUNARATNE - Nugegoda
Price only! whither quality?
With the latest news on the rise in price of bread, it looks like
that many Sri Lankan families are going to be with less food at
breakfast and at dinner. This is a good example of a nation suffering as
a result of their trust in imported food than their own resources. For
many years we Sri Lankans spoke of our need to depend on rice rather
than on wheat flour. Most of these talks were limited to political
discussions on television.
Even though certain groups emerged who claimed to love Sri Lanka more
than their own life itself, they never protested when the paddy fields
were filled up to build houses. Instead the fashion was to eat bread,
butter and jam because that's what the westerners do too.
In fact, 2000 metric Tons of Wheat flour is eaten per day by the Sri
Lankan society i.e. approximately 600,000 Metric Tons per month. Only
the foreign land from where this flour is imported profited from the
habits of the Sri Lankan nation. Even the best cookery lessons on
television were not able to convince the public to eat healthy green
vegetables and fruits so easily grown in this country. Looking at the
statistics, no wonder that in a nation such as Sri Lanka depending on a
high carbohydrate diet very few children and adults show outstanding
talents or creativity and most persons seem tired and sleepy the whole
Fortunately the younger generation still has time to change. Yet with
the media promoting on fast junk food simply out of their greed for
advertisements are pushing the young generation too towards high
carbohydrate diets. We have no choice but to pray and hope that at least
some exceptionally wise smart young persons will emerge who can resist
these detrimental advertisements.
It is time that the Sri Lankan families stop imitating the western
world in diet. We need to understand that it is through dependency on
our own food resources, and protection of our own food resources that we
will find long lasting prosperity and definitely good health.
Nevertheless increase in price of bread is a violation of the
consumer rights as bread is declared as an essential food item by the
Consumer Affairs Authority. According to the Consumer Affairs Act No. 9
of 2003, the Consumer Affairs Authority must safeguard the consumer of
unnecessary change in price of essential foods through creating healthy
competition among wholesale traders. Unfortunately very little
association exist between the Consumer Affairs Authority and the
Consumers. Otherwise, the consumers can pressurize the Consumer affairs
Authority to decide as to which food items need to be declared as truly
essential food items. Furthermore, it was sad to note that the so called
Bakers association was only ready to raise the price of bread, rather
than controlling its actual weight and quality.
Dr. Ajantha Perera - Chairman, Association for Consumer Action
City Fathers and Senior Citizens of Moratuwa hold strange views with
regard to old buildings. The M.A. Fernando Memorial Clinic and Health
Center built by the late E.P.A. Fernando in memory of his parents, the
W.A. Peiris Memorial Hall (Town Hall) built by the late W.A. Peiris in
memory of her beloved husband have already been demolished.
Even the King George Memorial Building put up for the Home for the
Elders by the late Mr. and Mrs. A.H.T. de Soysa has been replaced by a
so-called modern building! All these buildings were not old.
They represented different architectural designs of the period of
construction and could have been preserved if only the advice of eminent
engineers and architects were sought.
If any alterations were necessary, this could have been done within
the buildings, thus preserving the elegant appearances that these
buildings carried with them, like the Tower Hall and Elphinstone
In some countries the State provides assistance and advice to protect
old buildings for the sake of architectural value and it is not too late
for the Sri Lankan Government to give serious consideration in this
WIMALASIRI DE MEL - Moratuwa
Whither SLMC priorities?
The SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem while addressing the Jaffna Muslims'
Convention Puttalam recently reiterated that he was not prepared to join
the UPFA Government although invited in order to win the rights of the
He little realises how shameful it was to insist for the ports
Development Authority portfolio, shipping, Muslim affairs etc., and
nothing else during the PA and the UNF governments.
He further went to the extent of accusing the SLMC rebels for
supporting the UPFA government, forgetting the wrath and curse he earned
from the community for crossing over to the UNF. He now insists the UPFA
Government to accommodate a Muslim delegation in future peace talks. In
this respect, he should be ashamed of himself for requesting, since he
had failed as a Muslim delegate during the UNF regime taking part in all
delegation flying all over the world.
The SLMC party and the leader should refrain from making us the
scapegoats to meet their own ends, although living in hardship we are
living with peace and harmony.
S. RAMEES - Nagavillu
A Buddhist monk of yore in his yellow saffron pulled down a British
flag from its post, trampelled it and hoisted the Sri Lankan Lion flag
in its place. He was a national hero then, as Sri Lanka was under the
jackboot of British imperialism, He is treated as a hero today, even
after Sri Lanka freed herself from the Colonial yoke.
Recently we saw this act highlighted in the print and electronic
media. Furthermore, colourful posters have appeared on the walls of
Colombo at public places and elsewhere, announcing a meeting to be held
to commemorate this event.
Is this publicity by way of posters, which may provoke any ordinary
Since we gained Independence, way back in 1948, England and Sri Lanka
have been the best of friends.
England has helped Sri Lanka in many ways, especially after
'tsunami'. If for instance, the history of the world is reversed, Sri
Lanka captured England and hoisted the Sri Lanka Lion Flag at No. 10,
Dowining Street and if any Britisher pulled it down, trampled it and
hoisted the British flag, will even a single Sri Lankan like it. No, not
even a faint hope.
If Prince Charles who was in Sri Lanka recently, saw the poster on
the wall which I referred to, what could have been his innermost
It is definite that he would have got a rot gut or lump-in-the throat
feeling, even though he is a 'Eating-drinking man'.
It is about time that the Sri Lankans let bygones be bygones and live
in the sacrament of the moment.
Bandula Seneviratne - Colombo 8
I have been to Sri Lanka recently and was appalled by the rotting,
burning garbage on the way to Katunayake, from Peliyagoda junction. I
guess the politicians fly in the limos so fast past these smelly dumps
that they don't have time to look out?
Also please light up the road with fluorescent lights. Even the
airport looks half dead at nights. What a dismal picture of welcome and
goodbye to and from a beautiful island. Ah, yes, don't forget the
potholes at the checkpoints and speed humps.
KINGSLEY PETER - Canada
Recent reports say that Ranil (UNF) wanted Sinhalese and Muslim
representatives to be included in the proposed but not yet seen or read
Why this crocodile tears suddenly for the Sinhalese and Muslims? When
he signed the CFA with Prabhakaran, did he ever think of Sri Lanka as a
Nation, Sinhalese, Muslims and the moderate Tamils?
MALIN ABEYATUNGE - Australia