A wise proposal | Daily News


A wise proposal

A proposal by the National Education Commission (NEC) to prohibit elected representatives from participating in school functions and ceremonies is a timely one indeed. The recommendation is part of far reaching reforms submitted by the NEC to depoliticize the education system and develop national education to meet future demands. If the proposal goes through, henceforth no elected representative, meaning a politician, at any level, will be invited for a school event as a named guest.

This, indeed, is welcome for more than one reason, chief of which is that only a very few of our elected representatives deserve entry to a school let alone be entertained as Chief Guests. To begin with, a good majority of our people’s representatives cannot claim to have had a formal education, with most of them school dropouts.

It was only recently that the public was made to understand that nearly 60 per cent of our Parliamentarians had not passed the GCE (O/L) examination. When one considers their conduct in Parliament, it is doubtful if they, let alone sitting (and failing) their GCE (O/L), would even have remained in school that far (GCE O/L stage). This is after witnessing their conduct in the post October 26 scenario in Parliament- conduct that would not have been witnessed even from Kindergarten kids.

Besides, it is common knowledge that many politicians are steeped in sleaze and corruption, some of them bootleggers, cattle thieves and linked to the drugs trade. At least three MPs in the present Parliament are known to have aliases linked to acts of crime, drugs and robbery and some are alleged to be on cocaine. It was only last week that a Minister revealed that seven names had transpired among both Government and Opposition politicians who had connections to underworld Godfather Makandure Madush while much earlier another MP was rescued by the former President when his house was raided for narcotics.

Hence, schools, as institutions, besides imparting knowledge are also entrusted with discipline and character moulding of the young, should be the last places where such persons should be entertained (Perhaps a Government MP who tried to commit suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan could be made an exception, since, after all, his bid to take his life was to get a child admitted to a school).

Besides, there have been enough instances where politicians have caused harm and damage to the school environment and insulted teachers (a former Provincial Councillor got a lady teacher to kneel before him in front of her charges with a Chief Minister, too, soon following suit). Why then should they be called to be chief guests at school functions being serenaded by school bands and fawned over by principals, teachers and students alike?

Oftentimes children are kept long hours in the sun awaiting the arrival of some political panjandrum. Why must they be made to suffer in this fashion merely to pay homage to a minister or MP, who, together with their colleagues, are known to scare away schoolchildren in the Public Gallery with their antics in Parliament? Not just at school, schoolchildren should not be brought out of their schools to line the roads and cheer politicians as they pass by in their limousines. This practice, of course, was mostly witnessed in the past and reserved for Heads of State only and most would agree that such personages deserved the honour accorded. Not so the present crop.

The NEC has also recommended that no school or any part of it be named after any individual and wants to put an end to the use of school activities and functions in any venue for sales promotion and propaganda. Many though would agree with the naming of schools after illustrious men and women who brought honour to the country and who had sacrificed their wealth for various worthy causes particularly the furtherance and promotion of education. Nobody would find fault with the state for naming a school after D.S. Senanayake, Sirimavo Bandaranaike or Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara. Ditto for schools named after the departed war heroes such as Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Wijaya Wimalaratne.

There are school pavilions, swimming pools, auditoriums etc, named after politicians who were Old Boys of the schools concerned. While one cannot find fault with this per se, it is objectionable that political upstarts are attempting to boost their egos by naming new schools or school buildings after them. An attempt was made recently by the Western Province Chief Minister to name a rebuilt school after him - that was thankfully aborted due to the negative publicity given in the media.

The ban proposed in using school activities to promote commercial interests, no doubt, is a good move. In the same way the dire circumstances of certain schools in the villages too should not be exploited. We say this because certain TV channels are casting themselves in the mould of Good Samaritans by undertaking renovation of schools buildings for self glory. Hence, attention should also be focused on the overall exploitation of the country’s school going population by various other segments.

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