COLOMBO: President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday urged the teaching community to serve the poor and the less-privileged students in the remotest areas of the country and thereby protect the country’s ‘Free Education’ mechanism.
President Rajapaksa was speaking at the handing over of appointment letters to Diploma Holders in Teaching to 2,599 new diplomates.
Making a symbolic handing over of appointment letters to a selected number of teachers who had successfully completed their training and qualified to receive the ‘Diploma in Teaching’ for 2007, the President asserted that his Government aims to provide equal opportunities in education to all, sans any irregularities, irrespective of one’s race, religion or region.
“A deficiency of Tamil medium teachers did exist in the past, but we took immediate steps to remedy the shortage. We appointed Tamil stream teachers in the North-East and the estate schools. Irrespective of the region you are now appointed to, go and serve happily sans any prejudice of race, religion and caste, or whether they are rich or poor.
Don’t confine them only to rote learning but identify their talents, and develop not only their knowledge but also their attitudes, and produce a creative younger generation,” the President said.
He pointed out that around 500,000 students had sat the G.C.E. O/L last year and around 25,000 had failed in all subjects they offered.
He asked why this was so and directed the Education Minister Susil Premajayantha to take remedial steps to avert such a situation next year.
“These failures are however not the offspring of teachers, who make sure that their children are through.
If that same effort is made in imparting education to all students of the school, we can make Sri Lanka one of the most literate countries of the world,” the President opined.
Recollecting the ‘success story’ of Mahavilachchiya Central College in Anuradhapura, and its teacher Nandasiri Wanninayake, the President urged the teaching fraternity to emulate the exemplary teacher who has performed wonders and revolutionised the lifestyle there in Information Technology and English.
The President noted that ‘Teaching’ was per se a great service and a noble profession, instead of being only a job. He urged the new youthful appointees to refrain from seeking transfers to locations close to their homes.
The President said that whatever crises are encountered, his Government will never cut the funds allocated to education. “I view the uplift of education not as a duty but as a profound responsibility of the Government,” he added.
Chancellor of the Kelaniya University Ven. Velamitiyawe Kusaladhamma Thera, Western Province Chief Minister Reginald Cooray, Education Minister Susil Premajayantha and Ministry Secretary Ariyarathna Hewage also spoke.