Implementation aspects of New Education Reforms questioned

[TamilNet, Monday, 08 March 1999, 04:20 GMT]
The General Secretary of the Ceylon Tamil Teachers Union told central education ministry officials at the second session of the seminar in Trincomalee on the Sri Lankan government's New Education Reforms (NER) this morning that the program for teaching Sinhala to Tamils students and Tamil to Sinhala students recommended by the NER should be put on hold until a settlement to the ethnic conflict is found.

He said that the current political climate is such that neither Tamil nor Sinhala students will study each other's language with interest.

The central education ministry officials who were given questions about the NER's relevance by zonal Directors of education and assistant directors education from the Vanni at yesterday's session said that they will have to refer these to the appropriate authorities for answers.

The questions of the education officials from the Vanni were:

1.10000 students are have left their homes and are living in temporary shelters. They are struggling to continue with their education. In what manner can the NER funded by the World Bank help them?

2. Out of 89 schools in the Vanni 75 have been destroyed. Their buildings and furniture are no more. How can the NER be implemented in the Vanni under these conditions?

3. Students and teachers have been displaced as refugees and are living without the basic amenities of life. How can NER help them?

4. Ninety percent of the student community in the Vanni is affected by malnutrition and is therefore susceptible to diseases frequently. Hence they are unable to attend school regularly. What can the NER do in these circumstances?

5. The New Educational Reforms emphasise the teaching of English. However there are only three teachers in the whole of the Vanni region who are qualified to teach English. There are 12 volunteer English teachers who are paid with contributions from the permanent staff of government schools. In general only 45 percent of the teachers required for the student population of the Vanni are currently available. How can the NER be implemented?

6. Under the NER a primary school should be located at least two kilometers from a student's residence. But children in the Vanni do not have schools close to home as recommended by the NER. And they do not even have bicycles to get to school. The army does not permit cycles into the Vanni. There isn't any public transport either. Will any action be taken to help take cycles for school children in the Vanni?

7. A litre of kerosene costs more than 160 rupees in the Vanni. There is no electricity in the region. Students have to study by the light of kerosene lamps. Will there be any arrangement to make available kerosene to students?

8. There is a shortage of 310 teachers in the Vanni. 150 volunteer teachers have been employed on private contributions now to meet this shortage. Even AL classes have to be taught by these volunteer teachers.Will these volunteer teachers of the Vanni be absorbed into government service eventually ? And how will you implement the NER without rectifying this shortage?

The offficials said that they would take up these matters with the appropriate authorities.


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