AVURUDU WISHES The Sunday Punch wishes you all a very happy Sinhala and Hindu New Year. May the milk of prosperity boil to the brim and spill over the whole New Year through. Take a bow, Aneesha Gitanjali Fernando, the Colombo 7 Ladies College 16 year old girl who was declared an island ranker at [...]


Time to re-sit Uni cut off marks test


The Sunday Punch wishes you all a very happy Sinhala and Hindu New Year. May the milk of prosperity boil to the brim and spill over the whole New Year through.

Take a bow, Aneesha Gitanjali Fernando, the Colombo 7 Ladies College 16 year old girl who was declared an island ranker at last December’s GCE O’ Level examination after results were announced last week showing she had not only swept the board with all A’s in all nine subjects but also had scored the highest marks in all subjects sat. Congratulations. But Aneesha Gitanjali was not alone.

There were three others from Colombo, Nipuni Herath of Devi Balika, Risini Kumarasinghe of Samudra Devi and Sandith Siriwardana of St. Joseph’s. Congratulations to them too. But they were not alone either.

ANEESHA FERNANDO: In the top fifteen

There were 11 others, too, who also scored the highest marks to find their place in the Brainy Bunch. And all of them were from the outstations. In fact, the first six of the elite top squad of 15 were all from outstation schools. They were Kasuni Seneviratne, Ravisa Subasinghe from Gampaha, Navodhya Ranasinghe and Limasha Wimalaweera from Kandy, Randhi Lakpriya from Matara and Kavisha Prabath from Ratnapura. All of them girls. The rest were Samadhi Wikcremesinghe from Gampaha, Dilru Mallikaarachchi from Homagama, Miruthi Sureshkumar from Jaffna, Kasundhi Gokarella from Kandy and Nayanthara Jayasuriya from Matara. To them all , the nation’s heartiest congratulations.

But they were not alone either in scoring A’s in all subjects. They were joined by another 9945 students who had all scored A’s in all subjects. Out of 437,795 students who sat for the GCE O’ Level exam, they were the elite with the topmost grades. And ninety per cent of them were from the outstations.

The good news is that this reflects the growing trend of student performance throughout the island with the outstation schools outdoing the so called Colombo elitist schools. And it’s not restricted to O’Levels alone. It is also demonstrated in the A’ Level results. A steady increase, year after year. In 2016, 7,126 students got A’s for all three subjects. Last year the number rose to 8,267 with all A’s. All showing the outstation schools have come of age and have relegated Colombo to a sorry 4th or 5th place.

But though the capital’s schools have been reduced to the status of a poor relative by the outstanding performance of the outstation schools not only at the O’ levels but also at the more important A’ levels, the perception that Colombo’s schools are far superior to the rural cousins still persists.

Last year for instance, the Northern Province with 68 per cent, Sabaragamuwa province with 67 per cent and the Uva province with 65 percent were the top three who passed the university entrance post with the Western Province not even in the frame.

But when it comes to the cut off marks to qualify for university entrance, Colombo students have to score higher marks even if they had secured all A’s than their rural counterparts. The cut off mark system to enter university was introduced in the 1970s during Mrs. Bandaranaike’s SLFP- LSSP-Communist Party coalition. Earlier the procedure had been for students nationwide who had gained the necessary marks to qualify for university entrance to sit for a university entrance examination. Those who scored the best at this exam were the ones who were taken in, whatever their place of residence.

There would, of course, have been compelling reasons why this system was introduced: why it was considered vital at that time to weigh the scales and tilt the balance in favour of those who came from the underdeveloped rustic areas and offer them a handicap to enter university and gain a university education.
For over 45 years successive governments, instead of developing the schools in the provinces and upgrading them to the same status as the other schools in privileged areas, remained complacent in having a discriminatory system which arbitrarily determined campus entrance – not on how one performed at the exams but from which area one came from.

But even without successive Education Ministers playing a pivotal role, the seed and blossom of this nation have demonstrated that they have transcended their unfortunate circumstances and, with over 95 percent of the country now enjoying electricity, enabling students to study far into the night, are now not merely on equal par but far superior to those studying in the capital’s so called prestigious schools.

Much water has flowed under the Pons Asinorum, the ass’s bridge, these last 45-odd years that, with the outstation’s arid groves of learning now greening more than Colombo’s wet zone, the time has arrived to rethink the Z score system and review the entire landscape: for the education authorities to re sit the cut off marks university entrance exam. And bring a system based on merit alone.

It seems the growing tide of outstation schools’ success at the A ‘levels have turned the tables now. Contrary to a popular JVP slogan, now its kakiri for Colombo while it’s kiri or milk for the villages. Be they from the capital or from any corner of this island, let their achievements not be disparaged by reference to reverse discrimination: As second class students who entered the Groves of Academy only because they had studied in less privileged areas of the land and thus were shown institutionalized favoritism which dictated lower marks would be sufficient to creep into campus grounds and tread upon its hallowed grass, even though their results of three A’s made them first class.

Congratulations and the raise of the hat in salute to all the students who toiled through the night under an electric bulb or burnt the midnight kerosene oil and succeeded brilliantly whilst their fellow compatriots slept in ignorance. Well done.

I will not say Ranil’s  a rogue, says Dinesh

DINESH: JO leader in Parliament

This Monday morning, five days after a great majority of Parliamentarians had expressed their fullest confidence in Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and defeated the no-confidence motion brought against him by the joint opposition based on his alleged involvement in the bond scam, an interviewer on a TV channel attempted to have Ranil for his breakfast.

His guest was Dinesh Gunawardena, the leader of the joint opposition, the leader of his own Mahajana Eksath Peramuna Party, the son of Philip, the Boralugoda Lion of old.

After describing Dinesh as a great politician of great substance and, after heaping fulsome praise upon him and hanging him on the murunga attha, the question put to him by the interviewer was indeed a loaded one:

“Can you honestly say that Ranil Wickremesinghe is a rogue?”
Dinesh didn’t blink. Even though he had been one of the main proponents of the no confidence motion against the Prime Minister based on his supposed guilt in the bond swindle, Dinesh gave a direct and succinct answer.

He said: “Ranil Wicremesinghe has to be proved to be a rogue. It’s to the courts to decide that. “
How true. And how sad for the unfortunate interviewer. Though he did not touch the breakfast bacon on his plate, Dinesh’s answer left egg all over his chubby cherubic face.

In all fairness, by the same coin and token, it’s up to the court to prove that the Rajapaksas are rogues as alleged by the coalition government, on which slogan they came to power.
The sooner they get on with their task using their powers to expedite the investigative process to bring alleged rogues to justice – which both Maithri and Ranil and their party members promised they would do in the run up to the 2015 presidential election no sooner they were elected; and still continue to parrot three years after – the better it will be. Repeated allegations without action have only served to bring the Government’s credibility into contempt.

Let those against whom allegations are made be brought to the final altar of justice: The Courts. And let the Courts decide on their guilt or innocence. After all, whats sauce for the goose must also be sauce for the gander.

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