Press Release #14: Open letter to Derana TV on the Responsibility of the media for Social Cohesion | සමාජ සංහිදියාව පිළිබඳ මාධ්ය වගකීම මතක් කරමින් අද දෙරණ TV වෙත විවෘත ලිපියක්
The government is poised to launch major reforms in education. One of the key objectives is to impart social-emotional learning and cultural skills to our children so that co-existence and lasting cohesion will be a reality in Sri Lanka as per our national objectives of education.
Children spend only six hours per day in school for a limited number of days in a year. The society in which they live shapes their values as much as education, or more so. Popular media too plays a critical role.
In that regard, we wish to express our serious concern about Derana TV quoting a child speaking in Sinhala saying that she saw a teacher of a certain ethnic minority providing answers to three children who were of the same ethnicity at the Grade five Scholarship Examination in a news clip about the examination (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qdw_PNFGUGQ).
There have been concerns about the impartiality of the examination at a few centers, but the Commissioner General of Examinations has assured that action will be taken to ensure justice for students if any faced any undue disadvantages. A responsible media would not add fuel to the fire by highlighting an innocent child’s perceptions of an ethnic element in these incidents.
Ethnic issues have held back our country despite the gains we have made in education and other spheres. We are at a critical juncture facing economic and social challenges of massive proportions in our country. We cannot afford to let ethnic issues hold us back anymore.
Education Forum Sri Lanka is committed to catalyzing policy reforms in education to improve the quality of and access to our education system. Our efforts would be in vain if our society is divided on ethnic identity.
We invite Derana TV to join us in removing obstacles to social cohesion, an imperative for advances in all spheres of society including education.
Sujata Gamage and Tara de Mel
Sri Lanka Press Institute
The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka
Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka
Ethics Eye, Verite Research