The Commissioner General of Examinations has stated that 57.37 per
cent have failed in mathematics at this yearâs O.L. exam and has
attributed this to the fact that even teachers and educationalists do
not know their geometry, which is a compulsory questions in the maths
But then why the 63.18 per cent failures in English language? I make
bold to state that most of the present day teachers of English and
educationalists do not know their English! I have seen some of the
teachers teach English in Sinhala. They give the meanings of difficult
words in Sinhala and explain the passage in Sinhala.
As for the standard of English, I would kindly draw the attention of
the readers to photography below. St. Johnâs National College Panadura
was a prestigious school established 130 years ago, and which has
produced so many eminent persons. I can well remember a period when
seven old Johnians were serving Sri Lanka as ambassadors abroad.
But what of St. Johnâs College now? Almost in front of the
principalâs office as you enter the school is this huge board quoting
the Buddha. I took the trouble to capture it on my camera because it
contains seven spelling mistakes and because it must be seen to be
It had been put up almost a year ago, but none of the teachers of
English, nor the various administrators who visit the school seem to
have noticed this. This is, needless to say, an utter disgrace to a
Back to the O/L exam results. Most of those who passed in English
language are certain to have benefitted from the kana shot or blind
guess answers in the multiple choice questions where one has to guess
and underline one of the given answers!
Although such students may get a pass in English language, they
cannot write or answer a simple question in English. Now, who is to be
blamed for this unfortunate situation?
It was only this morning that I came upon the reference in your
letters column, to a critical contribution by D. V. Perera, writing from
the USA no less, on the issue of Lasith Malinga. His intervention begs
the central question here: Lasith is over 18 and therefore an adult.
What right has D. V. Perera or anyone else, to tell him, or any other
adult, what to do about his/her appearance? Any Sri Lankan over 18 can
vote and thereby decide on the destiny of this nation. If one is old
enough to decide on oneâs government, then one is old enough to decide
what one wears or how one wears oneâs hair!
The very notion of prescribed cultural codes, of âcultural
correctnessâ, is pernicious. Who decides on the cultural and ethical
code, who has the right to do so, and where does that right come from?
I havenât the foggiest notion of what Lasithâs parents think of his
hair style, or whether they have expressed any view on the subject as a
matter of public record.
However, it is utterly irrelevant to me. An adult is an adult is an
adult. I certainly do not know or care what my grandparents thought of
my fatherâs safari suits or my motherâs short hair and sleeveless sari
D. V. Perera speaks of discipline in schools and Lasithâs potentially
negative impact as a role model. Well, neither the schoolboys who
participated in the anti-Tamil ethnic riots of July 1983 nor those who
joined the barbaric second insurrection of the JVP in the 1980s wore
long hair, tattoos and earrings. Perhaps had they done so, they would
not have been drawn into fanatical movements.
Frankly I consider Lasith and todayâs Sri Lankan cricket team,
Bhathiya and Santush, Ashanthi and Ranidu, to be socio-culturally more
progressive, radical and even revolutionary, than those puritanical Sri
Lankan political movements that claim to be so.
My heart goes out to AJN of Australia (DN May 18). With the
availability of modern medicine and all of its innovations, there is an
imbalance in the way medical assistance is being metered out, compared
to the fundamental essence of human life and the freedom and right to
die with dignity.
I am saddened and frightened to see that some religious dogmas
prevent the forming of a more rational view towards the right to die.
One religionâs views on the âright to liveâ states, âmedicine has
increased its capacity to cure and to prolong life in particular
circumstances, which sometimes give rise to moral problems.
Thus people living in this situation experience no little anxiety
about the meaning of advanced old age and death. They also begin to
wonder whether they have the right to obtain for themselves or their
fellowmen an âeasy deathâ, which would shorten suffering and which seems
to them more in harmony with human dignity.â
However, this kind of dogmatic solution can only make sense if the
illness of the person is not prolonged by the artificial aids of
medication and medical facilities, and the illness follows the natural
course the human body is able to undertake.
If the artificial aid of medicine is given to cure ailments -
ailments which go towards the natural and gradual ceasession of life,
shouldnât other aids, medical or otherwise, be also introduced to
increase compassion, empathy, acceptance and perseverance of the
What purpose will all this serve other than to uphold the âbetter be
safe than sorryâ belief, or the erroneous conviction of holding onto
oneâs âhighâ ethical standards.
In comparing human life to that of an animal e.g. to that of a horse,
it would be deemed by many that it would be compassionate to shoot a
horse which was wounded and in pain and agony, to get it out of its
misery - especially a horse which one loves dearly.
It would be argued that it could not be done to a human, as human
life is worth much more than an animal. But shouldnât more compassion be
shown towards a human life than to that of an animal?
Is being human, then so special, that it has to suffer undue and
untold agony and misery both physically and mentally for the sake of
preserving life? Is there a karmic force out there which compels us to
use pain as means of cleansing oneself or oneâs soul?
Or do we have to consider the ethics, the situation, where if a cure
is found, life has to be preserved at all costs, otherwise the fine line
between suicide and natural death will be crossed.
Is this fine line an imaginary one created by unrealistic religious
and ethical values? Is there no law or doctrine which can give as
comfort into knowing that we are safe from making a terrible religious
or ethical mistake?
Is the medical cure for one symptom adequate for the curing of the
body in all its wholeness? Will medical science ever know the human body
in its whole entirety? How far is the dignity of each human mind, will,
and self to be condemned, while shrines to medical science and false
ethics and dogmas to be extolled for its preservation of life?
Certain religious dogmas will always use superstitious beliefs for
fear of the unknown when issues arise about matters concerning life and
Those of more non-religious views will debate on the ethics of the
situation, where euthanasia or the right to die is compared to and
confused with abortion, murder, willful suicide and genocide, and the
wondering if the effects it will have on future generations will be
The right to be compassionate evades them both. They have both missed
the great axiom of this earth which all religions and ethics preach
about that is of love and compassion in all of its absoluteness.
The right to die then should be left to the individual to decide. The
right to die should follow healthier moral guidelines.
Reference the above titled editorial (DN May 19). The writer says
â...but adults cannot grasp languages as easily as children doâ. In 1962
I passed the Sinhalese colloquial-one of six subjects at the
Departmental Examination for Medical Officers for Promotion to Grade II.
My examiner was Dr. Sumanasuriya - Commissioner of Examinations. My
Sinhala colleagues passed Tamil colloquial. We learned from each other.
In 1964 I passed the Sinhala Proficiency Grade 11 (JSC) by self study to
qualify for further promotion. From 1970, as a Medical
Specialist/Administrator, I worked in Sinhala and English and signed
cheques written in Sinhala.
If there is a will, there is a way. For the past twenty years, no
meaningful steps have been taken to implement Tamil too, as an official
If at least all public servants had been made to be proficient in at
least spoken Sinhala and Tamil, a lot of barriers would have been
At last, someone has the courage to show the rest of the world what
Sri Lanka is about (Reference DN May 19). From the golden sea shores to
the green carpets and thatâs just the beginning.