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14th February 1999
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Hello Children,

Today around the world everybody is celebrating Valentine's Day. This day is not just for adults or girlfriends, or boyfriends, it's for everyone. 

Valentine was a young priest who loved to do good work and see that people were happy. During World War 11 Father Valentine used to marry young couples in secret because it was banned in France. For doing this he was sent to prison. Even though he was in prison he never gave up his work. 

So that's how February 14 became Valentine's Day. All of us could show our love and appreciation to our parents, brothers, sisters and even friends. So don't let anyone stop you from doing something nice for your family or your best friend. 

Happy Valentine's Day to you all.

Until next week
Aunty Sunshine

  • Rain
  • It's Time!
  • Polluted cities
  • My English teacher
  • Smoking should be banned
  • Love to the rescue
  • Progress of education
  • All about Royal College
  • Otters, badgers and raccoons


    Drop by drop it falls
    The teardrops of heaven
    Some even kiss my face
    As if trying to call me back,
    To reality
    Some fall to the ground
    Others try to make their home on leaves
    But all of them have to go
    Yet the rain doesn't stop
    It falls and falls.

    Achini Diana Withanachchi
    R/Ferguson High School, Ratnapura

    It's Time!

    It's Time we gather 
    Into a group of friendship, unbreakable. 
    And together we'll march, bravely 
    Facing each hardship. 
    It's Time one should think 
    Of everybody around 
    A little for himself, much to others 
    Deepening and drowning 
    Thoughts selfish 
    Time we joined each hand 
    To make the world a heaven 
    Filling each heart with love and compassion 
    Bringing peace and harmony 
    So that we can stop this war 
    And walk towards happiness 
    May joy, people find 
    Ending years of crime 
    Let this be 
    A dream true 
    To every being 
    As it's Time! 

    Prabha Vidyatilake
    Musaeus College

    Polluted cities

    Black clouds and dirty smoke 
    Fill the blue sky, make us choke 
    Leaves aren't green there any more 
    Garbage dumps fill the sandy shore. 
    Nasty odours fill the air, 
    You can't say, that you don't care. 

    Rivers are coloured in ugly green, 
    Pretty little fish and weeds are not seen 
    The sea doesn't kiss the golden shore, 
    As it used to do before!

    Little weeds and tiny living beings, all are gone 
    Human beings don't know, that they are alone! 
    In the city of pollution 
    Must find a new solution 
    Yet, they don't know, what a pity 
    Oh! The people in large cities

    One by one they all awake - 
    In the morning for God's sake 
    Girls and boys in streets and houses, 
    Some go to schools, some roam the streets 
    To clean, to sell, to beg, to find their living 
    To satisfy others for the money they are giving. 
    Don't know how the day will end. 
    For girls and boys who live with lots of friends.

    Lawanya Wijesekara 
    B/Kuda Kusum B.M.V. Bandarawela

    My English teacher

    My English teacher is Mrs. B.W. Wijesinghe. She's well known in Kalutara.

    She is beautiful and very pleasant. She is very kind and helpful too.

    She is a good teacher. Everything she teaches us is correct and her lessons are easy to understand. She gives us a lot of writing to develop our writing skills.

    She collects lots of paper clippings and uses the imformation from them, for our lessons. By this our general knowledge improves because she teaches us all that happens in our daily lives.

    She does her job very well, and she wants her students to do well in English. She also gives us advice on how to be good citizens in society.

    hink I am lucky to have a teacher like her. I am proud of her and I love her very much. I hope someday I'll make my teacher proud of me.

    Chathuri Thejani 
    Kalutara North

    Smoking should be banned

    Smoking should be banned in public places. Smoke from the end of a cigarette contains more harmful chemicals than the smoke inhaled by the smoker. 

    Each time a person pulls on a cigarette he sucks poisonous chemicals such as nicotin, carbon monoxide and tartar. When he exhales he puts these poisonous fumes into the air forcing even non- smokers to inhale. Everyone knows that smoking is the main cause of lung cancer which kills thousands of people every year. Smoking causes many other diseases too.

    Fiyaz Zareen
    St. Mary's College Nawalapitiya

    Love to the rescue

    Our motherland needs many things. Enough food to serve the country, fresh water and shelter, clothing and jobs are the most important things we need today. 

    But all the countries in the world including our mother land, could get an easy answer to all these questions! And that is through love, caring, understanding and peace. It all begins with tomorrow's people like us, children and teenagers. We must fight against hatred, war, misunderstanding and selfishness.

    If they do not cut trees in useless greed, we would get more rain. Sunshine, rain and good soil will give us good natural food from mother nature.

    You come to the world with nothing, but you go from the world with the riches of love you have treasured. If everyone understood the problems of others and gave a helping hand the world would be a better place.

    Romanthi Fernando 
    Ave Maria Convent Negombo 

    Progress of education

    Stamp News 54

    From educationists let us move on to see the development of education in modern Sri Lanka.

    The year 1869 is particularly significant in the history of education in our country. That was the year Stampswhen a system of state education was introduced with the establishment of the Department of Public Instruction under a Director who reported directly to the Governor, the head of government. This later became the Department of Education. 

    Earlier, in 1834 a Commission was appointed to supervise and control Government schools that existed then but the mission schools which were seven times as much as government schools did not come under the Commission. In 1841 the Commission was dissolved and a board called the 'Central School Commission' was appointed "for the instruction of the population of Ceylon". It was on the recommendation of a special Commission of Inquiry appointed in 1865 that the Department of Public Instruction was appointed. 

    J S Laurie was the first Director of Public Instruction. He was almost immediately succeeded by W H Sendall (later Sir Walter Sendall) who contributed a lot towards the development of Government Stampselementary schools. His first step was to get the Government to establish a normal school in which teachers could be trained both for English and vernacular schools. As teachers became available Government schools were established. In 1869 there were only 64 Government schools. By 1889 there were 431 with 27,677 children and in 1905 there were 554. The school going population had increased to 70,715. By that time there were also 1582 schools receiving aid from the Government. 156,040 children were attending these schools. Thus there was a dual system of education in fee levying English schools and non-fee levying Sinhala & Tamil schools. 

    The next notable landmark was the part implementation in 1944 of the recommendations of the Kannagara Report which brought in free education up to university level irrespective of medium. It also created Central Schools which made it possible for the children of ordinary people to receive the benefits of the fuller English medium education of the day. After 1956 a large number of Maha Vidyalayas were established in rural areas. 

    Collectors should be familiar with stamps which have been issued from time to time to mark significant milestones of many schools. The release of four stamps to mark the centenary (Siyawasa) of education in this country on 10 July 1969 was of special significance. These featured the Convocation Hall of the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya (04 Cents), lamp of education with the backdrop of the Buddhist flag signifying the Buddhasravaka Dharmapeetaya (35 cents), Uranium atom (50 cents) and a graphic design to represent science education (60 cents). 

    By 1969 there were four universities, 6 junior universities, 25 teacher training colleges and around 10,000 schools in the country. The number of teachers was 114,000 and the student population 3,000,000. By 1995 there were over 175,000 teachers and the number of students had risen to 4,194,448.

    All about Royal College

    'Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon' (1907) edited by Arnold Wright has this interesting account on the establishment of Colombo Academy in 1835, later named Royal College. It is an extract from a report by J Harward M.A, Director of Public Instruction at the time the book was published. It says:

    "The Rev J Marsh M.A had gone out to Ceylon as classical and mathematics tutor to the Kotta Christian Institution under the Church Missionary Society. He had, however, left that institution and had come to Colombo where he acted as Colonial Chaplain at St Paul's Church, and in 1835 started a private school for the sons of the upper classes among the Ceylonese. The school met a want that that had been felt for some time, and the leading Ceylonese residents at once petitioned the Governor, Sir R Wilmot Horton, to support it. The decision of Government was prompt and was carried out with considerable liberality.

    In January 1836 the school became a Government Institution under the title of the Colombo Academy with the Rev J Marsh as its Principal..... No very advanced work was done, but the teaching was sound and thorough as far as it went, and the effect on the students was certainly good and many of them rose rapidly to high positions in the service of the Government. The main cause of the success of the school was the high personal character of its first Principal, the Rev J Marsh, a remarkable man who had in a very marked degree the gift of rousing and maintaining noble aims among those who worked under him".

    Two stamps (60 cents & Rs 7) were issued on 29 January 1985 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Royal College falling in October that year. 

    Nature WorldOtters, badgers and raccoons

    Most members of the weasel family have long slender bodies and short legs. They run in a loping fashion. Most of them are fierce hunters, but some will eat plants and insects.

    Weasels and stoats

    The European weasel is one of the smallest members of the family. The male is only about 22 centimetres long, and the female is even smaller. It is usually solitary, though sometimes a family stays together to hunt as a pack. Weasels eat small mammals such as mice and voles.

    The larger stoat hunts rabbits and ground birds. Its tail has a black tip. In northern places the stoat will turn white in winter and is then called ermine. Like weasels, stoats will sometimes hunt in packs. Both weasels and stoats will go into other animals' holes in order to hunt them.

    Members of the weasel family have scent glands which they use to keep in touch with each other and also to defend themselves. The scent of the polecat and the skunk is so unpleasant that it will drive enemies away. The old name for a polecat is 'foumart", which means "foul marten''.

    Martens and mink

    The pine marten and its relatives are tree climbers, and can even catch squirrels. Like the mink and the sable, the pine marten is hunted for its fur, and so has become rare in places.

    The mink, originally from North America, is bred for its fur and some have escaped from fur farms to live in the wild in parts of Europe. They threaten water birds, as they are good swimmers and hunters.


    The wolverine, one of the largest members of the weasel family, lives in northern Europe, Asia and America. It looks like a large badger.

    Badgers are ground dwellers. They are powerful diggers, and live in a family home called a sett, made up of a number of holes. They keep this clean, regularly clearing the entrances and removing old bedding from the nesting chambers. They dig small pits nearby, which they use as latrines.

    Badgers are omnivorous, eating plants, roots, small mammals and birds, grubs and earthworms. They have powerful feet, strong claws and like all weasels they walk on the soles of their feet, leaving a flat-footed impression.

    The European badger usually lives in woodland, while the American badger lives on open prairies. Like skunks, badgers are strongly marked in black and white as a warning to enemies. They can bite hard.

    The honey badger of Africa will dig out wild bees' nests.


    Otters are graceful water weasels. They are expert swimmers, with a streamlined shape, a tapered tail for steering and webbed toes. They are nocturnal and shy, so are rarely seen. They are great wanderers. In some places the otter has become rare, partly due to hunting, but also because the rivers where they would normally catch fish have become polluted. Young otters are very playful and delightful creatures to watch.

    The sea otter lives off the west coast of America, spending much of its time floating on its back. It has the unusual habit of bringing up stones and shellfish from the seabed, and laying the shellfish on its stomach while it uses the stone to crack open the shell. Sea otters were nearly exterminated by fur hunters, but are now protected.


    Mongooses look like weasels, but are more closely related to dogs and cats. They belong in the Old World, but have been introduced to New Zealand and the West Indies in order to keep down snakes and rats.

    The Indian mongoose has a reputation for killing snakes, particularly the cobra, but it will kill all kinds of prey, including farm stock, such as chickens.

    The mongoose has a relative, the genet. This is like a spotted cat with a ringed tail. It climbs well.


    Raccoons live in America. They have pointed faces and are flatfooted like badgers. They climb well and usually live in forests close to water.

    A raccoon will search under stones for fish and crayfish. It is often kept as a pet, but at one time trappers used to wear its fur and tail as a hat.

    The pandas, which some scientists think are probably related to the raccoons, are found in Asia. The large, bear-like giant panda lives in central Asia. The much smaller red panda, or catbear, lives in the south-eastern parts of the Himalayas. It climbs trees and feeds mainly on leaves, fruit, small animals' and birds' eggs.

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