Thursday, January 31, 2013

'Sri Lanka 2013 and beyond' – a bad topic for a deputy foreign minister of the UK to give as a guest lecturer

 – at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in 2013

Alistair Burt – Under Sec of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth office, which means just a deputy foreign minister in the Cameron Administration is giving a lecture as noted above tomorrow, Friday, February 1st 2013.

I object to the subject of the topic from a UK politician. If roles were reversed and if I was a deputy foreign minister in SL going to the UK to give the same thing in the UK, saying UK 2013 and beyond! I doubt I would be even taken seriously. So why should we in SL take this seriously? We should not and it should be boycotted as simply patronizing, unless of course a more meaningful topic is chosen.

SO what should he say or do instead? Well change the topic of the lecture for a start. He should call it UK relations with SL in a globalized world of new technology. What should he then say about that? So shall we start!

Putting the rifts of the past 30 years behind us, where those who fled Sri Lanka for whatever reasons and who have now settled in the UK, are bent on keeping a flame that is forever lit, we must stamp this flame out and integrate our countries in a common front to develop peace and goodwill amongst our people, and ensure understanding, or in other words a dialog with mutual respect for each other.

Sri Lanka has over the past 30 years given the UK an unimaginable contribution in terms of human resources that have assisted the UK in reducing and mitigating their internal problems and for that we are very grateful. We will permit any of them to return to help their mother country, and we believe that the SL govt. should also make conditions favorable for those who wish to return to do so, as I believe they can contribute immensely to the development of Sri Lanka, its industries and businesses.

In a global world such as we live in today, the freedom of movement of people is only obstructed by practical issues specific to the host country, and all countries welcome with open arms those who can contribute to their development. I trust that the SL authorities will provide favorable immigration and investment rules to attract inward migration, without the perceived barriers at present.

In a global world ethnic origin becomes less important. By isolating groups by ethnic or religious groupings will only harm the country and not help it in the long term, and our example of accepting over 10M immigrants over the past 30 years has added to the diversity of our country as well as to its development. I would therefore ask you to be blind to people’s prejudices and look only at commonality.

Let us break the shackles of past misunderstandings and look at the commonalities of a common language within the confines of the Commonwealth Ethos, which we have shepherded to develop shared values in the interests of the well being of all our citizens and to prevent one group from suppressing others and most importantly ensuring basic minority rights.

I am aware of the many criticisms of Colonialism, and that is behind us, however with the rejection of colonialism, a sense of misguided nationalism in Sri Lanka has kept the country in conflict for too long, with people of all ethnicities suffering. We have provided assistance in rehabilitating the people of affected communities so that they can regain their past livelihoods and live in harmony. We will continue to the assist GOSL in its endeavors at peaceful coexistence.

Sri Lanka is facing internal political ideological changes that must be satisfactorily resolved within its shores, to ensure adequate representation of all people in all walks of life. Development, security, jobs, and other benefits should NOT be afforded to a select few as history has shown us that which is inevitable, namely the rapid fall of regimes that advocate such ideology.

The security of the world is ensured through communication, distance education, and shared common beliefs. To that end we will do our part in assisting SL with teaching of English and the use of modern technology for people in your country to communicate with people in ours, to foster friendships between our two nations.

We regret the perception that the UK was not able to prevent the flow of funds to SL for the terrorists to wage a dirty and bloody war with the GOSL. We did our best, which was not sufficient. We as a country DO NOT condone terrorism in any of its current manifestations covertly through a Govt. or directly, and will stop any repeat of terrorists attempting to restart a campaign of destabilization. We will assist your country in adhering to the international obligations SL has undertaken to conform to. Furthermore we will assist SL in strengthening its institutions of law and order to comply with SL’s international undertakings.

Despite adverse publicity to the contrary, I am not here in Sri Lanka to give my opinion on your internal matters. I am here merely to foster further good relationships with the oldest commonwealth country in the old world along with India and Pakistan, which achieved self rule without undue violence. If we foster our shared values we can overcome temporary setbacks from time to time, and I trust your internal issues with regards to the judicial independence will be amicably resolved soon.

“A level Results”: Is a Hurricane about to happen? A tornado perhaps!


Never in the history of mankind has a country succeeded in breaking all rules of probability, except in Sri Lanka where it is the NORM. Please consider this – as it is true and not a figment of anyone’s imagination.

Two male students, from Hambantota District’s Weeraketiya, Rajapakse Madya Maha Vidyalaya were the ALL ISLAND first in the Sinhala stream in the Maths as well as the Bio science A level stream for the 2012 A level Exams conducted in July 2012, the results of which were published late last evening, January 30th 2013. Suffice to say that hitherto, this school has never figured in the top 10 of any subject stream in any National Exams. How can “two students” in the same year, top the Nation in two different subject categories? In the same vein 3 girls from Devi Balika Vidyalaya in Borella, succeeded in being the first in the Island in Arts, Commerce and IT streams, also inconceivable despite the school always having a student in the top 3 in at least one stream every year.

I am awaiting public discussion of the relative probabilities of this occurrence as I am sure there is a greater likelihood of the end of the world happening within the next month, than these events taking place!!! The results of the Devi Balika Students only arrived a little while ago, so the people, newsmakers and pundits have not yet had the time to first think, then consult experts, and finally make statements to the Media of the World’s Feats that appear to be emanating out of Sri Lanka on a regular basis!

What kind of credibility is this going to give students in Sri Lanka? About its examination system, its results, its lack of transparency and most of all on its reliability, most importantly its perception thereof (perception of reliability) for students who seek employment, university entrance or some other field of study using the results of these exams as the criteria from which their next step in life’s journey is undertaken.

My main concern for the future of Sri Lankan Education, is that if users of A level results lose confidence in their accuracy and reliability, there is NO point in Sri Lankan students trying to perform at Local A levels. We may as well give up our studies altogether or seek an education through International Schools and foreign exams. Is this what the Government is trying to do? Surely not!

I am currently seeking explanations for these unusual results where the top 5 students of the whole country come from just two schools in the Island.

NEW Syllabus
Index No : 4896840


Z - Score
District Rank
Island Rank

NEW Syllabus
Index No : 4897587


Z - Score
District Rank
Island Rank

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

So if NDT moves to Homagama what will happen to Hardy Tech?

A few blog entries previously I highlighted the problem with regards to Tech and University Students and how one set of students lose out when their College changes from a Technical College to a University. Just in the way that the Katubedda Institute of Technology, a highly respected establishment where all their diploma holders were snapped up for employment, have now been relegated as NDT in the Moratuwa University, who will now be removed from there with the establishment of a new NDT in Homagama, the fate will be the future for Hardy. The NDT has 350 students for each of three years for a total of 1050. Whilst for Engineering there are about 500 students for each year, and for 4 years a total of 2000 in the University Engineering Faculty.

NDT students will generally get jobs within a short while whilst BSc Eng students prefer to go overseas, as their qualifications are recognized overseas, and as the Minister of Irrigation recently stated, are finding it hard to fill their vacancies due to the lack of applicants, possibly for this very reason.

Hardy Tech which is a highly respected college in Ampara will now be given full University (degree awarding status) and along with it the current diploma programs will face step motherly treatment and students may feel that their entitlements will be compromised.

It is interesting to note that the decision to move NDT to Homagama was taken in 2000, and saying they are now going to move it is purely a political statement aimed at getting students to stop agitating, though in reality it will be at least a further 4 years before this act can actually take place due to practical difficulties in building a new Technical College and associated infrastructure including student accommodation and other boarding facilities. The biggest lie is that the Govt. has NOT allocated funds to build this new university which will cost a huge amount to finish as there are many common amenities that will have to newly constructed.

It is student lives that the Govt. is playing with. They should be more sensitive and find a lasting solution. It is important that as noted before the whole question of Diploma holders and Degree holders must be looked in context. It is ironic that NDT students have a greater likelihood of finding immediate employment locally due to the practical experience they gain as part of their course. Furthermore the expected salary is lower than a university student and therefore makes them more marketable, and less of a threat! As noted above with graduates moving overseas due to better remuneration, the vacancy problem is still to be resolved. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

As if Education is a plaything – a further Educational Services Ministry

The establishment of a new Educational Services Ministry with its own (I presume) Cabinet Minister, Duminda Dissanayake smacks of cronyism. After all he is the son of Bertie Premalal Dissanayake who has been so unceremonially  dropped from the NCP being its chief desecrator for such a long time and now in the wilderness! Was it payback time or just another insidious move to belittle the ministry by giving people with questionable abilities positions of power?

I have no clue what work if any will be assigned to this Ministry as it no doubt will clash with all the various and numerous ministers of education, who have led the education sector down a precipice which will take a long time to recover from.

The establishment of this new Ministry will I do not believe solve the inherent crisis in education except in providing a personal of questionable character to fight the students or the academics or the teachers. They are all now agitating for rights and the whole house of cards is in crisis, leaving the path open to the paying education sector to thrive further whilst the state sector is being killed by the very actions of this Government.

I am sure there is some method in the madness, but when we have more than 100 ministers in a govt. where with a few more they will command a majority in parliament. That would be an unprecedented step in the annals of governance in any country on earth, but will it improve the country at any level? I rather think not, but add to its destruction, and in this case to further eroding the standards of education, leading to the products that are even worse than today’s output.

I am not going to comment on the other new ministries including one for sugar. I will not criticize the sugar one as I am waiting for the said minister who has made a solemn pledge to make the country self sufficient in sugar production, keep his word. If he succeeds I will be the first person to congratulate him on that feat, and I will not hinder him in this process, as SL imports 90% of its sugar requirements at present at a great cost. I have no doubt that the cost of production of sugar will be higher than that of importing but I trust the local products do not have taxes and so I would hope that the prices will not rise relatively. I digress however from my original point which is my concern that education which is dear to my heart has been further bastardized, for want of another word, in this cavalier fashion, which reflects the step motherly treatment for an area that the Govt. wishes to suppress!

So now they are talking about University Entrance at age 16!!!

Instead of a proper National Education Policy outlining the structures for all groups of Students, the typical adhoc silliness continues, with the latest salvo from the Minister of Higher Education, proposing that the University Entrance age be brought down to 16. (Does that mean due to the 2 year delay in starting, the student finishes his studies at 14?)

So let us take this and try and make sense of what brought about this dream or nightmare!!

1                   Bringing down the age of entry will reduce classes nos, from 13 to 11. This will enable classes to be cut, and more resources to reduce the current 42 to a class. and give more specialist trained teachers to schools.

2                   Revamp systems to ensure that those sitting for A levels will enter University within 6 months max if sitting for their A levels from the current up to 2 year waste of youth!

3           Graduating at 20+ with a 4 year degree will help students compete with Overseas qualified students of the same age, instead of now competing with much younger and more qualified and experienced graduates.

4                   Demographics of Sri Lanka being such, with aging population, youth will be required to begin work earlier and work for longer to support a larger dependent population, and this will make this a necessary step anyway.

5                   New technology has shown people peaking in their careers at an earlier age, and therefore the MOST PRODUCTIVE ages of youth must be exploited to the nation’s advantage, not keeping them lost in academies trying to get an education and more unneeded qualifications.

6                   More vocation specific lines of study will be the order of the day leading to employment opportunities immediately upon qualification, unlike the huge waste of unemployable graduates waiting in vain for jobs at present.

7                I graduated a month after my 21st birthday with an honors degree in Economics from the University of Bristol, in England and this meant that I was able to qualify as a Chartered Accountant in England by the age of 24 after my degree. 

        Today’s graduate Chartered Accountants in Sri Lanka are past 30. By the age of 32 I had left the profession after 11 years of work, the final year was as a Manager at the London Office of an International firm of accountants with audit clients that are well known names in the UK and around the world. 

       Therefore I can speak from experience that it is a good thing to cut down on school years, as it permits a longer working life for people. Sri Lanka a country where until recently 55 was considered retirement age, did not permit sufficient years of work for a person’s lifetime, a complete waste of a human being, a human resource and to society at large. I invite comments for and against this idea. Let us begin the discourse.

       One must understand that it costs parents to put kids through school and a reduction in the number of years will reduce their already huge burden despite the free education system theoretically prevalent in Sri Lanka today.
       One big problem I foresee in early University Education is the reluctance of parents to release their young daughters into a University context, a fear that is  less in Western Countries where women have more rights, and are able to protect themselves from abuse, and male-centric environment as exists in SL today.

         Any parent who has a young daughter in University will vouch for the fact that they are petrified of the safety of their offspring, something they are not in sending their daughters overseas. That is why girls have to be in their halls by 8pm and not permitted guests, whilst there are no time restrictions for males. 

         This severely restricted movement of women in Universities is to protect them, and they then suffer the indignity of being able to be in the Library till 11pm closing time etc. or from attending other university or private functions after these hours.

         The maturity of students of 16 in Sri Lanka is also an issue, as they have to be a little more independent than they presently are, not being used to more freedoms and rights that they have in overseas countries where they are able to be more independent of their parents at an earlier age.

        In conclusion there are many factors that need to be taken into account with regards to University entrance, and I have mentioned some of them above. I will appreciate comments on your views in the matter.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

NO Pension for the ex-CJ!........................Really!

One of the Sunday Newspapers announced today that the recently illegally impeached CJ will not receive her pension, owing to her impeachment. As usual the newspaper article was just sensational, not investigating what component of the pension that she was not going to receive. Is it just that component that is calculated on her period as CJ? Or all her pension rights in public service, including as an academician in a Universityand later as a judge of the SC!! So this is just one example of readers being told half truths, and the people being duped into believing what is said as just being plain and simple, NO PENSION.

Why I say this is that educated people who should know better, come to the same conclusion as the farmer in the rural area when reading the same article. It goes to the heart of our thinking, our education system and the lack of reasoning of our citizenry. This follows directly into the lap of state media manipulation, where all the nonsense spewed out by the media, especially the state media, is accepted as the truth! KALPANAKARANNA

So before feeling so sorry for the CJ who did not even avail herself of a duty free vehicle in any time she served as a public servant (university dons are also permitted such vehicles, though at a lower value) we must look into the alternatives available to her as an ex-CJ. She has been offered an international posting in an INGO like the ICC, with a very prestigious position and a salary of around 10times (pensionable too) of what she was earning as the CJ.

The problem is that she is prevented from leaving, until she is able to clear legal hurdles that are against her. The behind the scenes activity is to iron all those out. I wish Sarath Fonseka understood that she is not cut out to be a politician and she had better pursue whatever interest she has, to ensure the security (incl. financial) of herself and her family first and foremost.

There is no doubt that a future administration will rule against the impeachment, and restore all the rights she has been denied, and to that extent she need not worry about today’s withholding of her CJ pension rights! If she believes she can provide a more beneficial contribution to international justice from another posting let her do so, as only Sri Lanka is the loser in this game. Sri Lanka is always the loser in a game where people leave because they have no recourse to justice in this country. It is a method, by which host countries gain a huge human resource potential from here, and thanks to the shortsightedness of a myopic administration, the Country suffers as a result of the policies adopted by it. Let us agitate for change!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Cobra girl story – epitomizes the Sri Lankan psyche!

In most countries there is a gutter press that thrives on salacious gossip, and it is considered the “opium for the masses” and is not generally taken as anything other than entertainment. In Sri Lanka however the Govt. needs to get on the case of entertainment and use sensational stories as being the reason for “PRESS CENSORSHIP”. I found it the the height of absurdity when the Media Secretary, Charitha Herath used the example of the story of the Cobra girl, as a reason why the media MUST be bound by certain regulations. Remember regulations, which mean that if they are not adhered to serious repercussions in the form of legal action, and in Sri Lanka’s case where the judiciary has ceased to function fairly, it means downright closure or suppression!

He implied that as a result of the publicity given to this girl, she became well known, and then she ended up being attacked and beaten up, and finally hospitalized – due supposedly to the media giving her UNDUE PRESS.

Think about it! This is one of the most outrageous interpretations of logic and reasonableness. The fact that she was attacked had nothing to do with her new found fame, and further the fact that she pimped on the media, by feeding the media with a bunch of baloney, is the fault of the media in not checking the facts and not something that requires regulation. That is something well within the self regulation of media that the press council can get into if need be, but not the Govt.
I found it fascinating that this girl, Nirosha Wimalaratne was able to fool so many people with her outrageous stories and gain the level of fame she did, to an extent that all media covered her story and most people have heard of her, and I bet if she sought election, she would get sufficient preferences to get elected. The latter is the problem of Sri Lanka, that fame leads to electability, not the fact that she was beaten up. Any elected politician would tell you, hospitalization as a result of an attack just before the vote, if properly marketed will get you in!!

I am therefore not commenting on the accuracy of the latest story, where this girl as supposedly beaten up by an Arab boyfriend, as he is currently missing! But it has made sure that she is in the news again. She has been released from hospital and it appears that her wounds are surface wounds. I do not know if they were self inflicted for want of further attention, but I would like to see if she would be willing to undergo psychiatric tests to determine her state of mind first, before we sympathize with, empathize or despise her recent tragedy. Being attractive has certainly helped, and you can be sure we have NOT heard the last of her!!

The Girl must understand that she has benefitted enormously from this fame, which as an exotic dancer makes you more marketable as night clubs can headline you as the Cobra girl to get more clients. I just hope you have an agent to manage your finances, and that you don't have an abusive pimp using you for his ends, and you have learned how to play the system.

You have shown a lot of spunk to face the media, use them to the hilt and show the masses how gullible they can be! That is how the State has used the media knowing full well any lie will have more believers than doubters. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Turning Hardy Tec into a University – frought with danger - kalpanakaranna

The 2013 Dayata Kirula PR exhibition of the Government’s media campaign to promote its agenda, to be held at the Hardy Advanced Technological Institute (HATI) in Ampara has been postponed till March 23rd as the scheduled opening date of 4th February did not seem practical. It appears that the floods that hit the Digamadulla District delayed the preparation work and therefore all the private organizations and govt. departments that were also showcasing their individual prowess have had to put up with the revised arrangements.

It has also been disclosed that in keeping with the wishes of the founder of Hardy, HATI will be converted into a University with full degree awarding status soon after the event. 

Just as what happened when the Katubedda Institute of Technology was converted into the University of Moratuwa, a similar set of problems is now bound to raise its ugly head, and a match for future student agitation. It must be remembered that the initial Institute of Technology at Moratuwa now referred to as IT and students identified as NDT, or National Diploma in Technology have just had a battle with the University of Moratuwa Engineering Faculty students who were sitting their final exams. This is to do with the rivalry between undergraduates and diploma students. The latter appears to outnumber the former, but have a huge grudge as the Engineering Students get a more marketable degree and they don’t.

The answer to this clash appears to be the Govt. suggested move of NDT to a new location in Diyagama, Homagama, to a 20 Acre facility where the diplomas can be awarded and therefore no friction with the Undergraduates can surface. Due to a lack of funds allocated to Education this will be a few years in coming to fruition and we are bound to see more clashes between the two in months to come.

Similar sources of friction have surfaced with the University Physiotherapy degree holders and the School of Physiotherapy Diploma Holders, and a similar one with Radiography Diploma and Degree holders. It is this whole diploma vs degree holder debate in Sri Lanka that is getting out of hand and is causing immense friction that I wish to cover in this article. We need both and it is a good idea if one can graduate from one to another if need be, just as is done by NIBM students who begin with a diploma and then graduate to courses, finally with degree awarded by a foreign university, though all the coursework and exams are done in Sri Lanka.
In the case of Hardy, the heading in the article, I wish to point out that there exists a problem already at Hardy where local students who follow basic courses of subjects are facing step motherly treatment over the more intensive and higher level HNDT courses that get better resources. The numbers of local students are greater and they resent the way Hardy has relegated them to second class status.

The classification of this into a university will necessarily create greater animosity amongst the students that fear them being relegated further due to undergraduates receiving the best facilities and treatment, and perhaps being kicked out completely

In advance or in anticipation of this issue, I am writing this to alert the authorities who are planning to convert Hardy into a University to tread carefully, after consulting all stakeholders, especially the existing students by convincing them that this is the best way forward and that the place is ready to obtain this prestigious status.

I recommend that the degree courses are split into modules as is now very common, where there are Diploma receiving modules after one year or two and only after these are completed will students graduate on ability to the degree status. Therefore when considering students for University entrance, the standards are lowered as it pertains to a diploma course, and those who are found suitable only after two years to be permitted to follow the degree course. There will be some issue on the cost of the courses as students will want them to be free too. However in order to limit excess application a reasonable fee must be charged, even though it will still be heavily subsidized and much less expensive that private sector courses. This will ensure that only serious students follow course of their wish with a specific career in mind. This will ensure that ALL students at diploma and degree level follow courses and obtain qualifications that directly assist in them obtaining employment both in Sri Lanka and overseas, and prevents envy as all know they have a chance on ability to get higher if they perform at the Diploma levels.

The full degree to which places will be restricted will be a 4 year course, To that extent the University will be split with more diploma students. There is nothing wrong with that. Many Universities overseas offer the same kind of split. Building block education is the future, and I sincerely hope that Hardy can fill a great void in that region, by offering certificates at one year, diplomas at two, degrees at 4 and perhaps post graduate qualifications to those who have two years relevant work experience after degrees for a further 2 years for a masters course split with work experience and thesis. Now how about that for an idea to raise the employable qualifications in the East for Sinhala and Tamil speaking students!