Wednesday, 11 April 2012

I spoke to some people in Colombo

A man stopped me to ask me whether I would like to buy a handphone.  I told him I was sorry, I already have one. I then asked him whether he is happy to see Colombo so beautiful and clean. He said yes, yes, Colombo is beautiful and clean but our stomachs are empty.  I said it is sad , but haven’t we with that suffering built something that our children would be happy and proud in the future.  Yes he said, but where is the money to educate our children. 

I told him we had worst of times before but our parents somehow or other brought us up and so will they do now.  Feeding the stomach and tightening the belt are what we had been asked to do by successive governments since 1948, but none of them had given some thing to be happy and proud of.  At least now there seems to be great things happening, even a mother suffers in giving birth to a child , like wise some one has to suffer to make our future happy.

He said he agrees, but it is not every one who can look at things that way. I hailed a Taxi and asked the driver to take me to the Torrington Square. I saw clean streets and well laid gardens on either side of the road.  I saw the once dirty green waters of Beira lake now clean and beautiful with fancy boats taking riders for site seeing.  The Gangarama Temple in the centre of the lake is very attractive, clean  and pleasant to look at.

The beautiful new theatre Nelum Pokuna is at the starting  end of the long  well laid road to the Independent Square. The entrance to the Independent Hall is on a long path laid between long rectangular  water pools on either side. It is breathtakingly beautiful.  I asked the three wheel driver who drove me there what he thinks of the clean city.  He was a Muslim and he was of high praise.  He said, Sir,  Colombo is our home  we must keep our home clean and beautiful then the rest of  Sri Lanka will reflect the beauty of Colombo.

It is important he said that we have a clean city we can be proud of and make it a show piece for visiting foreigners.  I walked up the stone steps  into the Independent Hall.  It is a magnificent building and now with its surroundings spick and span it is a majestic an apt Monument for our Independence.

After having had a  look around along with a crowd of school children, I left the place to take a bus back to Ratmalana.  On the way I met a man . He must have been around 40 or so.  He is working for the National Savings Bank.  He had been working in the bank for over three years on a temporary basis, working on a computer with which work he is well experienced. 

He is a married man with a child.  His wife is not working. He is eking out a difficult living.  He was expecting the bank to make him permanent, but just when the Bank was considering his case the Bank had received a letter from Namal Rajapakse MP giving the name of 180 persons from the Neela Balakaya, requesting the Bank that some of them be selected for permanent employment with the Bank.  That was the poor man’s end of the hope of a permanent job.  The Manager of the Bank had called him and said that he is sorry that he has to put off making him permanent as just now he has to accommodate some persons from  Matara  belonging to the Neela Balakaya recommended by Mr. Namal Rajapakse.  That was unjust. This man really deserved being made permanent and now  Namal Rajapakse has deprive him of  his right. I told him how sorry I am and wished him better luck next time, if Namal Rajapakse stops assuring his popularity  by favouring  his Neela Balakaya Activists.

I met  a woman  in her  mid forties at the bus stand.     She was wearing a red flowered sari and a white jacket, she was carrying a heavy bag.  She  looked uncomfortable  under the sweltering heat of the  afternoon sun.  I spoke to her  and making a preliminary reference to the heat, asked which way she was going.  She was apparently to take the same bus as I .  I asked her where she is working. She said that she is a teacher at a Montessori School   and preparing for the New Year Celebration for the children.

From what she said  I gathered that in Colombo (perhaps as elsewhere) Montessori Schools are a big business.  There is no Government Control of these Institutions.  They spring up like mushrooms  after monsoon rain. Each school has its own admission fees, monthly fees and salaries for the teachers. 

Admission of a child to the Montessori  Schools could be any thing between Rs.10000 to Rs.25 000, after that each child pays a monthly fee between  Rs.2000 and  Rs. 3000.  Some teachers are paid a monthly salary of   Rs.10000 or thereabouts and some less than  even Rs5000. 

In addition to that for New year celebrations and Christmas the parents are required to make a special contribution to buy presents , for decorations and refreshments.  The sanitary conditions in some of these Montessori Schools she tells are deplorable, the owners make money and are least concerned about sanitary conditions of the premises or the comfort of the children..

The Government does not seem to have any say in the  Montessori School System, There is no registration of schools or teachers.  There is no specified method of education and each does  what  one thinks is suitable.   The government which appears to have adopted rules even for transport of children in School vans, seems to have completely ignored the Montessori system of Education.  

It is part of a child’s education and it is time the Education Department steps into put a stop to this scandalous Montessori Business putting at risk the future of a child’s mental growth, health and comportment.  They should first start by weeding out the Montessori Schools  that do not confirm to basic rules of  child education, and register  some and draw up rules of governing these establishments and conducting classes.

On making further inquiries afterwards I was told that there are in fact certain rules for the conduct of Montessori Schools.  The teachers have to be paid EPDF payments.  The Inspectors from the Department of Labour are expected to control the institution.  Most of the time the Inspectors are bought over and relevant documents showing the dates of appointment of teachers are not presented to the Inspectors.

People speak readily of corruption in higher places among Ministers etc.,  but the Montessori System which is infiltrated with corruption has been conveniently left out and the Organizers are left on their own to manage the Montessori Schools the way they want.

I therefore urge in the name of the tired teacher I met at the Bus Stand and numerous other Teachers of Montessori Schools suffering like her, and the children deprived of  sanitary conditions, deprived of comfort, and a systemized Montessori Education, that the government intervene with the proper authorities to vitalize the Montessori system of Education.  

The Montessori Education system which is vitally important to the psychological growth of a child, prepare him for higher education,  and training the child to be a good citizens, should be standardized and absorbed into the National Education System.                                                                    

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