Citizens' Mail | Daily News

Citizens' Mail

Discrimination in naming roads

Recently there had been letters to the press regarding the renaming of roads replacing the names of those who had really constructed the roads or those responsible. Although this has been done by our ungrateful City Fathers, the people still use the old name for directions. For example, although Dickmans Road is renamed Lester James Piries Mawatha, yet people refer to this road as Dickmans Road. So is Flower Road, etc. It was only last week, that I noticed a name board at Boralesgamuwa Junction ‘Ven. Dr. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera Mawatha’.

I am personally aware how this road from Dehiwala to Maharagama was widened and improved as I was then attached to the Ministry for Highways. In 1980, then President J.R. Jayewardene, requested all Ministries to send proposals for new projects as the World Bank was prepared to release funds. On receipt of this request, the Department of Highways was written to, and the widening and improvements to the Dehiwala-Maharagama road was included. To justify undertaking the project, the following reasons were given.

* Connecting two important towns – Maharagama-Dehiwala

* Southern approach to Jayawardena Hospital, Parliament, and Jayawardenapura complex, housing government departments- Sethsiripaya etc.

* Ease congestion at Nugegoda junction as this is an alternate route

* As already the section of road from Dehiwala to Nedimale had been widened.

Accepting the proposal, monetary provision was made in the estimates under the Department of Highways. As the first stage the road was widened and carpeted at the two ends – Maharagama to Bhikkhu Training Centre and Nedimale to Bellanwila Temple and the balance was widened but delayed in metalling and tarring. This was mainly due to the section of road running through the marsh at Bellanwila. This was resolved later, and the entire road was completed, although it took a few years. It would have been acceptable if the road was named Bellanwila Temple Mawatha, giving the direction to that Maha Viharaya. Strangely, I noticed the name board Vagirarama giving direction to the Bhikkhu Training Centre from Boralesgamuwa Junction to Maharagama without the name of that Most Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha Thera, a distinguish prelate has now been removed. By whom?

Naming of main trunk roads should be to indicate the two ends – Colombo – Kandy, Colombo – Matara, Colombo-Puttalam etc. and any lane branching off from the trunk road could have names of those worthy or recognition.

Hope, with this explanation and reasoning, the Boralesgamuwa Urban Council will reconsider and have a name board changed to Bellanwila Temple Mawatha. showing the direction to this famous Buddhist temple.

Road names should not be changed according to whims and fancies of politicians, Provincial Councils, Municipalities or local authorities.

G. A. D. Sirimal

Traffic congestion at Mahavidyala Mawatha

Mahavidyala Mawatha is a main road with light and heavy vehicles, particularly Pettah bound buses, passing in their hundreds every day. This road also leads to five government schools and is also a commercial hub apart from being a densely populated area. The approach to this road becomes a difficult task with vehicles entering it from Abdul Jabbar Mawatha (AJM) are compelled to move at a ‘snails’ pace. This situation prevails every day, except on holidays.

It creates a ‘traffic block’ which prevails as more vehicles approach after the ‘traffic light’ signal from Armour Street junction. The traffic branch of the relevant police stations will vouch for this fact.

The public are put through great inconvenience as a result of this situation. Even though, there are a couple of Policemen on duty during school hours to cope with the situation, they too find it to be a difficult task. This has been going on for decades as restriction of the movements of vehicles, especially coming from the Aluthkade areas, are not adjusted accordingly to suit the present situation. Neither the CMC nor the past Traffic Police chief took any action on it.

All vehicles coming from Hulftsdorp use Messenger Street to enter Sumanatissa Mawatha and others enter Mahavidyala Mawatha to travel to Kotahena or Armour Street. It is from these points the blocks begin.

Messenger Street is narrow and is a 2-way road while Old Moor Street (OMS) is wider and is one-way to enter AJM. Most vehicles that need to enter Sumanatissa Mawatha, or even to proceed to Kotahena, could be sent through this OMS making it a 2-way road. By this arrangement, most of the vehicles need not head towards Mahavidyala Mawatha and increase the volume of vehicles. Messenger Street displays one side parking notice and OMS does not have it.

I firmly believe the present Traffic DIG will visit this place, spend a couple of hours and observe the situation for himself and consider my suggestion to ease the traffic congestion to a certain extent which is a necessity. And also make more adjustments, where possible, that could make vehicles move smoothly.

Another alternative is to stop vehicles entering OMS through Sumanatissa Mawatha to enter AJM, as they could use Bandaranayake Mawatha, - the one-way to enter AJM, and then to open OMS for vehicles to reach Sumanatissa Mawatha. If possible, make OMS a 2-way road as it is a wider road than Messenger Street which is already a 2-way.

Nazly Cassim
Colombo 13

Plight of English in our schools

As a retired teacher with almost 40 years teaching experience, I have observed with dismay the gradual deterioration of English standards in our schools. This is more applicable to those in the state sector than those under private management. For the last four decades or so, the situation has declined in spite of various efforts taken by the educational authorities in the ministry.

At the beginning it would be appropriate to identify the problems at its roots - school level. They can be summarised as follows:

* The poor quality of English teachers

* Out dated methods of teaching

* Insufficient attention by heads of schools

* Inappropriate textbooks

* Scarcity of reading materials within the reach of children.

The English teachers of today can be in no way be compared to those we had in the past. We cannot blame them, since they are the inevitable products of a lopsided system where English had been badly neglected. Let us look into the educational background of the young teacher recruited to teach a foreign language like English.

A Credit pass in the subject (at GCE O/L) is all that is required to apply for the post of English teacher. Except in big schools, their exposure to the spoken form of the language has been very meagre.

A Credit pass does not necessarily indicate a satisfactory level of achievement for teaching purposes.

A competent English teacher ought to be person who can express himself fluently before a class. In our teacher training programmes sufficient attention should be focused on the speech and conversation aspects of teacher-trainees.

Today, most of our school heads do not possess a sound knowledge of English as they have come up along the ‘swabasha’ line.

School libraries play a pivotal role in education. An up-to-date library is an asset to education. Developed countries have well equipped libraries in their schools. The authorities should take the necessary steps to provide necessary reading materials to school libraries in order to improve the quality of English teaching. Rural schools must be provided with mini-libraries with simplified books which are suitable for school children.

We sincerely welcome the move taken by the Ministry of Education to allocate funds to school libraries throughout the island. In my opinion, it would definitely help to improve the quality of English in our schools.

Dahlan Salahudeen


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