D S Senanayake’s critique of free education without variety
Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
On the votes of the Ministries of Higher Education and Sports
During the Committee Stage of the Budget Debate, November 17th 2014
Mr Speaker, I am happy to speak on the votes of these two Ministries, which are both in their different ways so vital for the development of this country. Though I shall for obvious reasons concentrate on the work of the Ministry of Higher Education, I would like to congratulate both Ministers for their imaginative approach to the subjects coming under them. With regard to Sports, the efforts of the Minister to have it incorporated formally in all schools are laudable, and I can only hope he succeeds.
This was a decision of the Consultative Committee on Education, and it is a pity that those decisions have not as yet been translated into action. But while all the reforms that are contemplated are worthy, it does make sense to proceed with what is possible, given that vested interests seem to be delaying the full fruition of the Parliamentary recommendations. I hope therefore, that with His Excellency the President also committed to making sports compulsory, the Minister will soon succeed.
This is the more important because the qualities that develop through Sports in particular, but also other extra-curricular activities, are essential for productive employment. Team work and leadership and other aspects of socialization are vital, and at present opportunities to develop these are confined to children in the more popular schools. I have been shocked at the lack of extra-curricular activities in the many rural schools I look at during Reconciliation meetings in Divisional Secretariats in the North and East, and I am sure this is true all over the island. Given that for most jobs what employers look for is not just academic attainments, but evidence of other skills, it is vital that the proposal of the Minister has an impact soon in rural areas too.
Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha At the Debate on the Prescription (Special Provisions) Bill - August 7th 2014
It is an honour, Mr Chairman, to have been asked to speak on this Bill, which I am very happy to support It is a necessary measure, and should have been introduced some years back. Indeed I recall six years ago, when I headed the Peace Secretariat, having a meeting with the Chair of the Law Commission about the need to introduce legislation of this sort, and being impressed because they too had already thought about this.
I had been unexpectedly drawn into public life from the rural pleasures of Sabaragamuwa University, but I thought it necessary to interpret my mandate widely, in the interests of peace and reconciliation. It seemed sensible then to also plan for the future. Though much was uncertain at the time, we had to hope that we could overcome terrorism, as indeed we successfully did a year or so later. But we also needed to eradicate the root causes of terrorism, which required, as the Secretary of Defence eloquently put it in those days, at a function at the Central Bank late in 2008, a political solution, which was not his area of concern.
Planning for the future then was of the essence, and I was pleased to find that the Law Commission had already thought of the problems the existing provisions regarding Prescription might cause. After all, it was manifestly unfair that those who had left their lands because of terrorism should have to lose these because others had occupied them for the period required to claim ownership. I recall being told that draft legislation was ready at the time, so it is sad that this lay forgotten for so long.