A child is the treasure that is destined to conquer the future; the prodigies who are fated to bring the glory of the Sri Lanka into the international world, thus truly making the island paradise the ‘Wonder of Asia.’ Therefore, the decision makers of the country should remain vigilant regarding the upbringing of these impressionable [...]


Understanding the benchmarks for Child Development, Pre-School/Primary Education with Minister Piyal Nishantha de Silva


A child is the treasure that is destined to conquer the future; the prodigies who are fated to bring the glory of the Sri Lanka into the international world, thus truly making the island paradise the ‘Wonder of Asia.’ Therefore, the decision makers of the country should remain vigilant regarding the upbringing of these impressionable young individuals.

2020 brought about a new glimmer of hope just as His Excellency Honorable Gotabaya Rajapaksa took over the mantle as the 7th Executive President of Sri Lanka. The President actioned his promises without haste, and assigned the ideal individuals to govern the ideal sectors. The responsibility of governing Child Development, Pre-School/ Primary Education, School Infrastructure and School Services was assigned to State Minister Hon. Piyal Nishantha de Silva.

The following are the excerpts of the insightful discussion carried on with State Minister Piyal Nishantha de Silva.

“It is not my place to criticise my predecessors…”

I was not assigned to criticise the faults and shortcomings of my predecessors. His Excellency Honorable Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Honorable Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Former M.P. Basil Rajapaksa trusted me with this honor to look after a respected and prestigious Ministry.

This transcends beyond a mere title. I consider this a crucial responsibility; a responsibility which I intend to fulfill with my hearts content. This is not the time to blame the previous regime. Instead, we are committed to create new policies which address the short comings. The country would not have to face such a predicament if such a rigid stance persisted throughout the ages.

Everyone is aware of the unfortunate news segments that are regularly reported in the media on a daily basis; particularly when those that are affected are children. Such unfortunate events directly impact the education of a child. With that in mind, I have a clear cut intention to bring about the much needed change through my Ministry. His Excellency’s National Policy Framework of Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour gears the effort forward.

“I am grateful that pre-school education is given its dues”….

The education curriculum which existed through the ages was convoluted. Aspects that should be governed under a single entity was broken into different curricula. Pre-school education existed as a stand alone entity whilst primary education was governed under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry. However, that was a memory of the past. I am grateful for the fact that pre-school education is brought under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry; thus giving it the attention that it deserves. It is appreciable that the necessary actions are taken to consider early childhood development as a crucial concern that should be attended by the Education Ministry.

Early childhood development through a systematic program is the start of guiding a child on his or her journey of passing milestones and achieving goals throughout their lives.It gives the entire public a sense of pride that this connection takes care of the beloved children that will one day make a crucial difference.

“It is impractical to shoot for the sky; it is best to start from the bottom..”

Comparing the pre-school education of a third world/ developing country with the progress achieved by a developed nation is impractical. They are polar opposites; different like the earth and sky. Understanding and accepting this fact is important. We should not attempt to shoot for the sky from the get-go. The process should begin from the bottom and rise to the top.  It is the vision of Education Minister Prof. G.L.Pieris and the rest of the decision makers to create a systematic step-by-step programme which gradually takes pre-school/primary education upto a more comparable level.

“Inculcating righteous ideologies and attitudes from a young age is crucial…”

The process begins even before the child is born. Motherhood is an honor that cannot be put into words; its the purest prestige that can ever be achieved. The mother should change her attitude and ideologies for the better as soon as the fetus forms in the womb. Her attitude during pregnancy directly dictates the child’s upbringing after childbirth. Children are impressionable, therefore the home environment should radiate positive energy.

“I do not condone competitive  education…”

As an experienced government teacher, I do not condone competition amongst children at such a young age. The scholarship exam is a platform which promotes unhealthy competition amongst children. It is difficult to groom a vigilant, resourceful and mentally sound individual if the child is engaged in a constant race for getting high marks.

Unhealthy competition brings the child down mentally. Children who voluntarily seek knowledge just for the purpose of quenching their thirst for knowledge are rare. The truth is that parents coerce their child to sacrifice their leasure for studies, and then ultimately force them to face the exams. This creates a distaste for examinations within the young child’s mind.

This has long-term effects on the child’s upbringing. They become regressive when it comes to decision making, and is prone to mental afflictions like anxiety and depression. Giving the child the freedom to decide the manner in which they want to study will give the confidence to perform better. Thereafter, the child grows upto be a goal oriented independent individual; the ideal person that our country deserves. A complete reformation within the education system should be made in order to achieve that state.

“A nutritional natural energy drink to energise school children…”

A new programme which addresses the nutritional wellbeing of the children is set to be introduced during the World Childrens Day national celebration event. A new porridge is prepared using rice which is endemic to Sri Lanka. This was a concept visualized by a collection of medical professionals and the former Principal of Royal College, Colombo. This is a project which the government hopes to implement throughout each and every school of the country. This glass of porridge is introduced as an energy drink, and plans are set in motion to action this endeavor on the 2nd of October; on the day which is dedicated for the wellbeing of children.

Additionally, plans are being formulated to change the lunch provision scheme that prevails within the school circuit. The objective is to introduce children to locally prepared healthy food.

“As a teacher, I am proud of our teacher population”…

The teacher population of Sri Lanka are fully fledged and is geared to guide students towards a better future. That is a cause for pride. There is a significant demand for Sri Lankan teachers in the international market. This means that their is a considerable outflow of expert teachers from the country. To change that, national policies must be prepared. They should be given training to further enhance their wealth of knowledge and at the same time give them a definitive reason to remain within the country and keep on sharing their wisdom with our own children.

“Technology is essential to mold world-winning personalities..”

Children need to be trusted with technology, if they are expected to learn within the modern world. The required technologies should be present in both their homes and their schools. However, certain restrictions need to be imposed whilst trusting these impressionable children with the power of technology.

The current global situation has made us see a different side of the world. It proved the importance of the world wide web for the education of our children. With such reliance on the internet, it is evident that a dark side is just waiting to manifest. The child has the potential to access explicit content (either involuntarily or through the influence of peers) if parents remain oblivious. Parents should be aware the ideal manner on how to block their child from accessing these content.

Providing the children with technology is simple. Teaching them the right way to use them is altogether a different challenge. We plan to take decisive decisions that will help prevent the pure mind’s of our children from becoming polluted from the dark side of technology.

“I launched the ‘Sisu Nana Pradeepa’ programme even before I assumed duties within the education sector…”

I am the mastermind behind the ‘Sisu Nana Pradeepa’ program even before taking over my duties at the Ministry. I sought my education despite facing significant financial difficulties. My parents gave me the education I needed through the wages they earned as laborers. This program focused on pre-school, dhamma school and upper school students. Programs which uplifted the mental wellbeing of children were carried out through this program.

Furthermore, I came up with a brainchild which teaches children about the importance of their precious beloved parents; particularly their mother. ‘The Ammawarune’  programme (launched in 2013) gave children the heartfelt message “You can write the important features of your mother and father on the ground over and over again till you run out of land to write. The land might run out, but beloved daughter and son, that isn’t enough to mention the value and importance of your parents”. A person who cannot love their mother and father shall never love their own country, therefore I have advised the necessary parties to make sure that this message is properly delivered to each and every student. Education alone is insufficient to mold a fully fledged individual. Programs that teaches the true value of the world we live in is important to create a humble human being. Apart from those that are mentioned, I have launched a series of programs titled ‘Mahaweraka Pelagasma, Maathru Abhimani, Jeeshta Purawasi Pranama, Amadamsara and Ranaviru Pranaama’. These programs build patriotism, enhances appreciation for the elderly and helps builds the spiritual connection that a majority tends to deviate from as they grow older.

“Programs to improve infrastructure and sanitary facilities of schools”..

It has come to my notice that certain schools lack pure drinking water, and the sanitary facilities of those schools need significant improvement. North Eastern and Central Province have been identified as the areas which needs the most development. I have decided to pay close attention towards the Monaragala, Ampara and Kurunegala Districts. I shall personally visit the locations and provide the necessary solutions.

“I did not ask for a title; I was trusted with the responsibility”….

I proved my heartfelt concern towards the children, parents, elders, war heroes even when I was not assigned with the power. This commitment earned me this responsibility. I am certain that my efforts will prove that trusting me with this responsibility was the right decision to make. I prefer to work closely with the public; for every single day of the week. Success can be achieved if a person knows how to work up from the bottom, and as a down-to-earth politician I intend to rally the relevant officials towards achieving the goals visualised by the President.

“As parents, we should constantly remain aware about the  wellbeing of our children..”

As a father of three children, I can rightly state that as parents, we should dedicate our life towards making the country better for our children. The misfortunes that befall on the children can be prevented if the parents have a strong hold on the safety of their children. Make the right decisions, and let them grow in a healthy family environment. Our children are our treasure. Instead of forcing the child to learn book knowledge, take the time to teach them values, attitudes and the spiritual elements which makes a good human being. The proud nation of Sri Lanka shall rejoice if such an attitude is parents decide to adapt that attitude. -  Randheer Mallawaarachchi

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