[Citizens' Mail - (21-01-2020)] | Daily News

[Citizens' Mail - (21-01-2020)]

Selection of students to universities

Although the results of the GCE (A-L) Examination have been released giving the subject grades, Z-scores, district rank and the all island rank, the students and the parents are highly worried about the method that the University Grants Commission will adopt in selecting students to different faculties from students sitting for the first time in the new syllabus and those sitting for the second and third times the old syllabus.

According to media reports, it appears that the UGC is going to select a certain percentage of first time sitters and a certain percentage from the second and third time sitters depending on the average percentage admitted to a particular faculty in the past five years from these two groups of students. There is no reason why the same percentage of students from these two groups admitted in the past should be admitted to a faculty this year too due to a change in the syllabus. There is no consideration about the new syllabus in this method as they are using the numbers selected during admissions of 2013 to 2017.

This method will actually favour the second and third time sitters as they had one or two additional years of study with past papers, more coaching etc.

When there are two syllabuses for two groups of students the statistically accepted method is to find the Z scores of the two groups and to use them for the selection as the Z -scores will equalise their performances. But instead of using the Z-sores which have already been calculated in selecting students, the UGC is apparently going to adopt a method that will favour the second and third time sitters for unknown reasons.

The world over the universities base their selection on the grades obtained by the students whether they sit a new syllabus or not. They also require higher grades from repeaters. For instance, if the requirement is three B passes from first time sitters the requirement is two B passes and an A pass from second time sitters and one B pass and two A passes from third time sitters. It is very unfortunate that in our country second and third time sitters are preferred.

As there are various revelations made now about the corruptions in the various state institutions, the UGC should safeguard its integrity by adopting a statistically valid method in the selection of students to the faculties in the universities.

A. D. Gunasekera


Why squabble over a party symbol?

The reunion of the SLFP and the Poduperamuna plus Pohottuwa after a long strained conflict finally led to the unprecedented victory of the last presidential election showing to the world that anything can be achieved when there is unity in diversity. Any way it was not an easy task for both party leaders and members to relinquish their respective stances for the sake of a common goal ie. to eliminate Yahapalana regime, by making sacrifices and eating humble pie. For the time being, until the next parliamentary election is held in March the interim government is just managing with a Cabinet of a handful of ministries being unable to dispense positions to all at this juncture. Many key players who were active in the election now seem unhappy without having expected posts /portfolios or with having minor or junior positions. Gentlemen and gentlewomen, why worry about posts: be patient until the next election?

In the meantime, key players of both parties are again starting an undue and unreasonable row over party symbol. Prior to the election the two parties of the present government had signed an agreement to the effect that the common party symbol for the next election should be the chair and the SLFP members are strictly adhering to that point stating this in public while the members of the Pohottuwa are claiming that they are going to use their own symbol Pohottuwa only because they had a strong majority of votes through that party symbol. This is a puerile and parochial argument because a symbol is only an easy reminder of a party on ballot paper but the voters rather make their choices based on principles and policies noticeable in election manifestos of political parties and behaviour of party leaders.

No one should act to violate an agreement and both parties should respect the agreed matter while observing restraint to avoid making clashing statements. However, if any party is not in a position to comply with the agreement there is one alternative they can consider to choose. For the first time, in election scenario, have a joint symbol chair¬+pohottuwa which may attract more voters. Otherwise not only the two parties but also the whole nation would have to regret in case an unexpected turn of events would turn up in the face of yet another conflict within the governing coalition.

In conclusion, over to the spokes persons of both SLFP and Pohottuwa, please exercise restraint and vigilance against making sarcastic statements in the context of current political atmosphere in which your uncontrolled outpouring of retorts/rhetoric can lead to the triumph of the opponents in the coming general election. Strange things may happen when you are quarreling. Then you are too late.

Madduma Bandara


The only salvation is media

Having been born in this country 88 years ago, I feel that I am competent to plead and beg the media institutions of this country, to come out of their parochial interest, and help this country which has lost its image, integrity, and respectability among most of the countries, in this world.

We have still a handful of nations, maintaining their tribal mentality and savagery, mostly in Central Asia, parts of Africa and the Middle East, enforcing, antiquated policies, slaughtering, raping and plundering indiscriminately.

This country of ours, went through similar situations though we claimed that we inherited sagacity, through righteous kings, and the preaching of the Buddha and several religions that are being practiced today.

Now coming back to my original question, how and why this country has bled, and still the threat of future bleeding, is hanging like the sword of Damocles.

For the last 80 years I have read the newspapers for academic reasons and strangely and sadly noticed, how, not only the standard of English, but more importantly the steadfastness and critical view of the political scenario, have been pushed to the back burner.

I am aware of the threats to the media institutions, the journalists, and the governments of my country blatantly with impunity, have abducted, murdered in cold blood, which can be compared to the most heinous and barbarous acts.

One government took over the largest newspaper giving precedence to rampage a prominent TV station and another government forced the closure of an upcoming newspaper.

A new trend is emerging, where politicians are taking over the media, the citizens must not allow this to happen, and boycott these publications. Admittedly some of our media institutions have also to be blamed, because they, without pinpointing defects in the governance they attempted to do a regime change and was also trying to make inroads into the political scenario thus losing their focus on national issues.

Now all said and done, we as a nation, the citizens, and the media have skipped over, our overall responsibility and have brought upon ourselves, this calamity of misgoverning this country in all aspects.

I urge the media without supporting any individual or a political party, without aspiring to govern this country, just do their part to elevate and inspire the national spirit of our people to come out of their rhetorical verbosity and organise candle light vigils until we have successfully driven the corrupt administrators or giving them a choice to change.

We have to learn lessons from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Sudan to show our protests and force governments to understand and accept that they have been elected only to govern righteously, or pack up and leave.

This suggestion is not to create bloodshed and mayhem but to highlight the inconsistent policies of the politicians and eventually make this country saner and safer.

Walter Fernando


Commuter’s hardships

The present new passenger carriages of long distance trains are about four feet up from the platform which makes it extremely difficult for most of the commuters to get in and get out.

I have seen at Ragama station, how difficult for ticket holders, especially ladies to board the train because of it height.

I hope the new Minister will look into this, since most ladies do not want to travel by train due to this problem.

Wimal Devasiriratne


Trilingual schools, a panacea for the language issue!

Picture by Saman Sri Wedage

I am quite happy of the decision of the government to set up a trilingual school in every district which will be the prime and essential need of all communities in Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced this in a recent meeting held in Katugastota, Kandy when he attended an opening ceremony of the Siri Palipana Chandrananda Baudha Balika Maha Vidyalaya. The premier emphasized the opening of trilingual schools countrywide would make the future generation learning the three languages easily and narrow the communication gap among communities.

Our country comprises of the three communities, the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims who speak mainly the two languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English as a link language. Unfortunately a diverseness occurred among our communities in introducing the ‘Sinhala Only Policy’ in 1956 in which the country was plunged into a brutal war killing many innocent lives and properties over the issue of language rights of the Tamil speaking community. Fortunately, the war was won in 2009 but the language issue still remains unresolved.

I hope setting up of trilingual schools in each district would be a panacea for the language issue of the people and it would pave way for amicable interaction with each other. While resolving the language barrier of the people the Government should take measures to solve other administrative problems of the North East people.

Z. A. M. Shukoor


Man-made concepts

GAD Sirimal in his letter to the Editor November 7, 219 states that Sin, Hell, Heaven, Karma and Rebirth are man-made. He has only confirmed my statement that he remains a rationalist denouncing all tenets of Buddhism, while claiming to be a Buddhist.

With regard to Sirimal’s statement that Karma and rebirth are man-made I would like to state that the law of gravitation would remain a law of Nature even if Isaac Newton did not proclaim it or Albert Einstein redefine it. The Universe continues to expand though neither Mr. Sirimal nor I can see it happening. The Law of Cause and Effect as taught by the Buddha cannot be explained likewise by a mathematical model or with worldly tools like reason and logic. If one is not in the least perturbed by Death, Decay and Impermanence being quite content with what science and technology can offer, then certainly it would be futile to attempt to acquire even a bare understanding of the Patichcha Samuppada or Dependent Origination, which in reality is the Buddha’s explanation of our existence.

Rather than continue on the subject I would like to conclude by coming back to his statement which first drew my attention. He states ‘…when praying at the statue of the Buddha in front of my house in the garden.’ As Mr. Sirimal writes lucidly I do not think he has mixed up his words but means what he says. With offence to none, I would like to mention that ‘Prayer’ is unknown in Buddhism.

This should not be confused with the practice of paying homage to the Buddha (Namo Tassa Bhagavatho) or reminiscing on the Buddha qualities (Iti piso Bhagava Arahan Samma Sam Buddho) which is done to cleanse one’s mind and so acquire merit. This explains my statement that Sirimal cannot claim to be a Buddhist in the first instance.

K. C. de Silva

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