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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has emphasized the need to reform the country’s education system in order to create a citizen who can optimally contribute to the future world, the economy and development.

The Universities should not simply be degree-awarding institutions. The President points out that the country, the economy as well as the graduates themselves should benefit from this. He urged the education authorities to introduce a new curriculum as soon as possible, giving priority to practical needs.

The President made these remarks during a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat today (24) on the future activities of the State Ministry of Education Reforms Open Universities & Distance Learning Promotion.

President Rajapaksa stated that the current labour market discrepancies have occurred due to the fact that educational reforms that suit the country have not taken place for many years. There exist a large number of job vacancies in various fields in the country as well as internationally. But the education system has not created the manpower needed for the modern world.

‘In order to make the future generation of the country productive citizens, they must be enriched with new knowledge, skills and abilities. A clear roadmap should be drawn up from pre-school to higher education level to ensure that young people do not get lost in the field of education. It can increase the opportunities for technical education and expand the use of technology in the educational process. All institutions related to education were brought under one Ministry to achieve this objective,’ the President said.

President emphasized that it is every child’s right to have an equal opportunity in education irrespective of their ethnic and religious differences and added that it is the government’s responsibility to raise a productive citizen to the country.

New reforms should create a background to facilitate access to education for the children who were left behind to reach their expected academic destination without age restrictions. President proposed the practical implementation of a student-centric education system instead of the existing exam centric education.

The immediate obligation of an education system is to facilitate graduation for all the students who are eligible to enter universities and make the job market reaches out for graduates instead of them taking to streets demanding job opportunities were discussed in length.

The university enrolment has been increased from 31,000 to 41,000 in the next year. Open University will enrol an additional 10,000 students to their branches. The plans have been devised to register 10,000 individuals to follow degrees in Information Technology. It was also discussed to adopt different eligibility criteria unique to each university which is the practice adopted by developed countries for university entry, at the meeting.

President Rajapaksa advised the officials to expedite the review process of the already drafted National Education Policy and implement it accordingly.

Minister Prof. G.L. Pieris, State Minister Susil Premajayantha, Head of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival Mr.Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Secretaries to the Cabinet and State Ministries and Heads of the Line Institutes were present at the discussion.

After a lapse of 28 years the Export Development Council (EDC) was convened under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Export Development Council was set up under Export Development Act in 1979 with the objective to resolve prevailing issues in the export sector by strengthening exporters. The Council is entrusted with the responsibility of policy formulation and issue approvals and recommendations.

President stated that the scope of the Council include the development of exports by both public and private sectors and to accelerate the building of people centric economy through winning the global market.

Activating the Export Development Council, the first meeting was held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23).

According to the Act, President is the Chairman of the Council. It was agreed to convene the Council once a month to review future activities and to resolve current issues in the sector.

Emphasizing the responsibility delegated to the Export Development Council to seek new market opportunities for exporters President elaborated on the necessity of diversifying the export sector to cater to different demands of different countries.

Most of the trade agreements signed in the past are not favourable to the country. President highlighted the need to review these agreements immediately to bring more benefits to the country.

He also pointed out the requirement of revising and modernizing the National Trade Policy expeditiously to address the issues in the export sector and to ensure its progress.

The establishment of export production villages in order to promote primary products of farmers in line with export market requirements was also discussed.

“The damage caused to the export sector in the past due to re-export is formidable. Re-exportation should be done in a manner to ensure safety of high quality crops which are endemic to the country while safeguarding both the farmer and the producer”, President said.

Import of raw materials required for value added products should meet the highest standard under strict supervision.

President said he had personally instructed High Commissioners and Ambassadors to vigorously promote domestic products in the global market and to attract more investors.

He said the targets will be set for everyone to achieve in the future and  pointed out the need to improve the efficiency of trade promotion officers in foreign missions.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said it is important to create an attractive atmosphere for businessmen and investors by expanding facilities at Airports.

Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa said that unnecessary rules and regulations that discourage exporters should be removed.

Ministers Dinesh Gunawardene, Bandula Gunawardene, Douglas Devananda, Wimal Weerawansa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Ramesh Pathirana and Rohitha Abeygunawardene, State Ministers Dayasiri Jayasekara and Prasanna Ranaweera, Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera, Secretaries to Cabinet and State Ministries and heads of several government institutes were present during the discussion.

The 51st Death Anniversary Commemoration of Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara, who is hailed as the Father of Free Education was held under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today (23).

The President and the Prime Minister paid floral tributes to the Kannangara statue erected at the Presidential Secretariat premises.

Students of Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya, Colombo and Piliyandala Central College sang the Kannangara commemorative song.

Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara was instrumental in passing the Free Education Act of 1943 in the then legislature in order to extend the privileges of free education to all children from Grade 1 to university level. The free education system that usher in a structural transformation of Sri Lankan society has paved the way for hundreds of thousands of children of underprivileged families to achieve a higher standard of living as well as to reduce social inequality.

Numerous political leaders since then contributed to nurture the free education system following its establishment in 1943. A member of the State Council and subsequently the Parliament, Mr. D.A Rajapaksa was a pioneer in this.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has prioritized to revise and revamp the Kannangara education policy to match modern times. A number of amendments in education policies under the theme “Equal academic opportunities for every child” are now being implemented under the guidance of the President.

The Minister of Education, Prof. G.L. Pieris, Secretary to the President, P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Prof. Kapila Perera, officials of the Ministry of Education, Chairperson of the Old Pupils of the All Island Central School’s Association, Chartered Accountant J.M.U.B. Jayasekara and several others present at the occasion.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has decided to go among the people to give swift solutions to their grievances at the village level.

The President hopes to witness himself the difficulties suffered by fellow citizens first hand and to listen to them in order to relieve them of their burdens with a correct understanding.

The Haldummulle Divisional Secretariat Division of the Badulla district has been selected for the first inspection tour. The public gathering will be held at Kumarathenna Vidyalaya, 100 Acre Village, Haputale on next Friday the 25th of September beginning at 10.00 am.

While touring the country during the Presidential and General Election campaigns President Rajapaksa came to realize that people in remote areas suffer a great deal due to a number of long drawn unresolved economic and social problems. Issues pertaining to livelihood, shortage of lands and houses, unavailability of undisputed deeds for lands, inadequate health and transportation facilities, shortages in school and other educational issues, inaccessibility to drinking and farming water, elephant intrusions, difficulty in selling their produce were some of the major difficulties identified.

The inefficient and lethargic conduct of the public institutions which are entrusted with the task of identifying and solving the issues of the rural communities is another prominent problem.

The President’s inspections visits to the villages are organized giving priority to the people. The expenditures relating to these tours are kept at minimum possible levels. Officials from Colombo will not accompany him. When solving the issues public officials in respective area will be involved.  People are requested to apprise of the President their grievances at these public meetings.

The objective of President Rajapaksa is to provide solutions for the public issues on the spot in every possible circumstance. The issues which will take time to solve will be noted down for future references.

The selected Haldummulle Divisional Secretariat has 2 Grama Seva Divisions where 222 families reside. Their main livelihoods are paddy, black pepper, Cinnamon and Chena cultivation. There are only 17 students receiving education at Kumarathenna Vidyala; the location of the public gathering.

We expect the United Nation will place due emphasis on non-interference in domestic affairs of other states, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a pre-recorded statement at the High-Level Meeting to Commemorate the 75thAnniversary  of the United Nations today (21).

“At a time when the world is facing a common and an unrivalled threat, the “United Nations We Need”, I am certain, will place due emphasis on the sovereign equality of States, respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in their domestic affairs”, President said.

President said that he firmly believes that partnerships fostered between Member States and the UN continues at their best when no country is held hostage to the interests of a few.

UN Member States agreed in June 2019 that the UN will mark its 75th anniversary with a one-day, high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on Monday, 21 September 2020 on the theme, ‘The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism’.

The President of the 75th Session of the General Assembly Volkan Bozkir made the opening statement at the meeting where leaders and delegates of 180 countries made their representations.

“The world is plagued by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, which has jeopardized our economies, health systems and indeed our societies, just within a few months”, President Rajapaksa observed.

Sri Lanka was able to successfully face the challenge of COVID-19 through a proactive intervention. We established the National Action Committee for Preventing COVID-19 even before the first patient was detected in Sri Lanka. Our approach synchronized the military, health as well as civilian authorities of national and regional levels.

Sri Lanka’s recovery rate stands at over 90% well above the global recovery rate.  Our success story owes much to our reliance upon ‘tracing and quarantine’, which was our greatest strength, President stressed.

“Sri Lanka is hopeful that we of the United Nations would rededicate ourselves in efforts to strengthen this great institution to ensure the future we want. We owe our peoples and future generations no less”.

Full text of the statement by H.E. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, At the High-Level Meeting to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary  of the United Nations- 21 September 2020

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Excellencies,

Ayubowan !

Your Excellency Volkan Bozkir, I congratulate you on being elected as the President of the 75th Session of the General Assembly.

 I am deeply honoured to represent the people of Sri Lanka on this historic occasion.

Unfortunately, the world is not what the founders of this august body envisaged 75 years ago.

The world is plagued by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, which has jeopardized our economies, health systems and indeed our societies, just within a few months.

Sri Lanka was able to successfully face the challenge of COVID-19 through a proactive intervention. We established the National Action Committee for Preventing COVID-19 even before the first patient was detected in Sri Lanka. Our approach synchronized the military, health as well as civilian authorities of national and regional levels.

Sri Lanka’s recovery rate stands at over 90% well above the global recovery rate.  Our success story owes much to our reliance upon ‘tracing and quarantine’, which was our greatest strength.

Sri Lanka has not reported a single case arising within the local society for over a month now.

Excellencies,

Sri Lanka has committed to the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development. Poverty alleviation through an agri-based production economy is a major goal of my Government.

The steps that we had initiated earlier this year for enhancing local production, partial restrictions on imports as well as assisting small and medium scale entrepreneurs paid their dividend.

As we celebrate 65 years of UN membership this year, Sri Lanka is pleased to have contributed significantly to United Nation’s agenda, ranging from peacekeeping operations to programmes of its specialized agencies.

At a time when the world is facing a common and an unrivalled threat, the “United Nations We Need”, I am certain, will place due emphasis on the sovereign equality of States, respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in their domestic affairs.

Excellencies,

I firmly believe that partnerships fostered between Member States and the UN continues at their best when no country is held hostage to the interests of a few.

Sri Lanka is hopeful that we of the United Nations would rededicate ourselves in efforts to strengthen this great institution to ensure the future we want. We owe our peoples and future generations no less.

Thank you.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that one of the top priorities of the government is to formulate and implement a strategy that will cover the entire process from early childhood education to tertiary education in order to ensure that future generations will choose the right path for them and their future.

The President emphasizes since early childhood development and primary education are the most stages in a child’s life special attention should be paid to that aspect.

President Rajapaksa made these remarks at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat today (21) on the future activities of the  State Ministry of Women and Child Development, Pre-School & Primary Education, School Infrastructure & Education Services.

Up until now, there has been no proper focus or monitoring on pre-school education. ‘Therefore, a formal plan has been formulated with the assistance of specialists in children’s education’, the President said.

‘It is the responsibility of the parents and teachers to create an environment where the child will be able to receive the education with a free mind as well as to constantly appreciate the child. Attention has been paid to grant an allowance to teachers of pre-school, which do not charge fees. Another objective is to regulate and train them in a way that does not discomfit them. We also plan to provide pre-school children with a locally manufactured kit with the aim of developing their early skills. The primary responsibility of the officers and authorities is to identify and properly manage the resources of all schools in the island’, the President emphasized.

The responsible officers of national and provincial schools should not be confined to their respective offices instead they should go to schools to identify and solve problems on the spot. The President pointed out the need of introducing a system where officers visit schools to provide appropriate solutions for the issues of the teachers rather than teachers travelling to education offices.

Mr. Basil Rajapaksa, the Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation expressing his regret over the hardships faced by teachers who go to zonal offices for various needs related to their profession, said that the officials should support to resolve the issues faced by the teachers.

Mr. Basil Rajapaksa emphasized the need to provide safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities to all schools within a short period of time.

The Government is also focusing on setting up Special Education Units at the district level to develop the skills of children with special needs in order to socialize them. Mr. Basil Rajapaksa said that families with such children should be supported with financial assistance to protect them from being the victims of psychological and economic collapse.

The need of passing the necessary legislations by an Act of Parliament to establish a National Committee on Women for the benefit of desperate and victimized females was discussed in detail at today’s meeting.

The attention was drawn to expedite the adjudication of child abuse cases and to provide closed court facilities to take testimonies in a manner which will not disrupt child’s wellbeing.

The President said that beginning from the practice of leaving the classroom placing the chair and desk neatly, an education system will be set up that will transform the child into a responsible citizen with attitudinal changes and behaviours, who loves the country and the society.

Prof. Ven. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thero, Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, State Minister Piyal Nishantha, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Secretaries to Cabinet and State Ministries and officials of line institutions were present at the discussion.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa visited Puttalam district today (19) to inspect some of the development projects in the area.

Commencing the tour President Rajapaksa inspected activities in Palachchonai Estate in Madurankuliya. Coconut, vegetables and several other agricultural crops are cultivated in the 900-acre estate. President appreciated the successful model cultivation of grapes in 10 acres of land.

President declared open the agro-technical institute constructed with funds received by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith from the Government of Italy. The institute has been designed so as to provide residential practical training to 50 students. His Eminence Cardinal said more opportunities will be given to the youth from low income families in the area.

The institute will operate under the supervision of the Archbishop House in Colombo. President engaged in a cordial discussion with the Rector of the training institute.

During the visit to Model School in Madurankuliya President spent some time talking with students. Heeding to the request by the students to construct the playground in the school, President instructed the Army Commander to expedite construction work. President informed the Secretary to the Ministry of Highways to construct a flyover connecting the Primary School on the other side of the road. President gave immediate solutions to several public issues including transport problems.

President exchanged pleasantries with the people on his way to Daluwa from Madurankuliya.

Inspecting farm lands of beetroot, tobacco, green chilies and onion President encouraged farmers to cultivate similar crops.

President also inspected the wind mill in Nimalapura, Daluwa.  His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Member of Parliament Chinthaka Mayadunna were also present.

The interviews for the selection of “Asidisi Media Scholarships 2020”, being implemented under the objective of enhancing the professionalism of the journalists of Sri Lanka, would be held from today (18) until 20, Sunday at the auditorium of the Ministry of Mass Media.

Under this scholarship programme every journalist gets an opportunity to be entitled to this scholarship twice. After being selected for the scholarship and successfully completing the course for the first time, he or she would again be eligible to apply for this scholarship for the 2nd time in five years.

A maximum amount of 200,000 rupees for the degree and postgraduate degree programs and 100,000 rupees for the long or short term certificate courses will be provided.

The beneficiaries for this scholarship programme would be selected by an interview panel appointed by the secretary of the Mass Media Ministry.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa urged the tea factory owners not to pave the way to tarnish the image of Ceylon Tea brand which has attracted many countries in the world for a long time.

Media recently reported instances of adulterating the quality tea by mixing sugar, glucose, sodium bicarbonate and ferrous sulfate. The rejection of such tea in the world market has caused a huge setback to the tea industry.

President emphasized that the country’s reputation as well as the global demand for Ceylon Tea could not allowed to be harmed in the future.

President stressed that no room will be left for tea industry to suffer the same fate that the pepper had met with.

President Rajapaksa made these comments during a discussion with small and medium scale tea factory owners and exporters held at the Presidential Secretariat today (18).

The deterioration of the quality of tea has resulted in the decline of its demand from 65% to 45% among the global consumers. The number of tea factories in this country stands at 705. Improper activities have been reported from 45 factories and production has been stopped in 18 among them following investigations, Chairman of Ceylon Tea Board Jayampathi Molligoda said.

Based on intelligence information the Special Task Force of the Police and the Police raid tea factories which produce garbage tea and using harmful chemical components.

No room should be left to hamper the revenue of the country or the tea industry due to substandard tea production. Tea factory owners as well as the exporters should ensure the supply of high quality tea to the world market. “Production of low-quality tea will not be allowed” said the President while giving instructions to officials to close down the factories that do not adhere to this rule.

President also instructed the acting Inspector General of Police to continue to raid such factories after conducting investigations with the assistance of intelligence services.

State Minister Kanaka Herath, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, secretaries to Cabinet and State Ministries, acting IGP and other officials, tea factory owners and exporters were present during the discussion.

President Rajapaksa symbolically presented motorbikes for the Public Health Inspectors in appreciation of their commitment and life-risking service during the COVID 19 at the Presidential Secretariat today(September 18).

Since 2015 no PHIs were provided with motorbikes. PHIs representing 26 selected Medical Health Zones covering the entire island and who had not received motorbikes during their service were presented with 749 motorbikes. In addition, another 56 PHIs received motorbikes on a priority basis.

At the stage of recruitment process, Public Health Inspectors are directed to follow a 2 year fulltime course. “We will discuss with the University Grants Commission to extend their training period and allow them to graduate at the end of the course.” President added.

Minister of Health, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry, Retired Major General Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe and Director of COVID 19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Project Jayasundara Bandara were present at the occasion.

The Buddhist Advisory Council commended President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for following advice and implementing suggestions of Maha Sangha. Member Theros of the Council are confident that the policies being followed by the President will be instrumental in building a fair and virtuous society.

Five months ago, President Rajapaksa decided to set up the Buddhist Advisory Council to seek the advice and views of Maha Sangha in the process of implementing policies of the Government.

The first meeting between Maha Sangha and the President took place on April 24th at the Presidential Secretariat. During the meeting President apprised Theros of the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID – 19 pandemic and the future activities of the Government. President informed that he intends to meet the Council on the third Friday of every month and invited Theros of the three Chapters to participate.

Member Theros of the Council presented their advices and suggestions to implement strategies pertaining to several areas included in “Saubhagyaye Dekma” national policy statement during previous 5 sessions.

The Buddhist Advisory Council which met for the 6th time at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (18) reviewed the progress of the implementation of proposals so far.

Maha Sangha commended and invoked their blessings for paying attention of the Government and executing several proposals put forward by them including protecting historical places with archeological value, developing Pirivena education by removing deficiencies, providing deeds to Vihara lands, Dhamma School education, National Education Policy, early childhood development, prioritizing national security, controlling the drug menace, environmental protection, creating the background for discourse on Buddha Sasana and taking Buddhist Universities under the purview of Ministry of Education.

The Council praised the President for taking measures to lay a strong and viable foundation for the future of Ministry of Education by appointing 4 State Ministers for the first time in the history.

The Maha Sangha pointed out that the decision to amend the Antiquities Ordinance to address the long standing issues related to Viharas built on archeological sites has been welcomed by many.

While highlighting the importance of the Advisory Council which meets once a month, President Rajapaksa said that it had helped him as well as the officials to gain a better perspective of various fields. President assured to take steps to rectify prevailing shortcomings.

Maha Sangha representing the Buddhist Advisory Council, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Ministry Secretaries and heads of several institutes were present at the meeting.

The Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal made by Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella to purchase necessary machinery to print passports and government confidential documents locally through the Government Printing Department.

Addressing a media conference held yesterday at the Government Information Department Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rambukwella said this decision had been taken to save foreign exchange spent annually to print these documents through foreign printing companies.

The Cabinet of Ministers decided to assign the Planning Department to conduct a detailed evaluation on this project.

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