I spoke to some people in Colombo
Posted on April 11th, 2012

By Charles.S.Perera

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.

15 Responses to “I spoke to some people in Colombo”

  1. AnuD Says:

    One of the best articles that I read for a veryvery long timw I suppose. Because it talks about the problems of the lay people and some fundamental problems in Sri Lanka. So, MPS handing over lists are still the popular method of giving jobs.

    One thing was wrong. Is there a Sinhala name for Torrington ? square, something like independant square

  2. mjaya Says:

    These “minister lists” are one thing that have ruined most of our government institutions. Those people hardly work, have minimal skills and use their political connections and thuggery to get away with everything. The worst thing is that they deprive hard working people who deserve the job.

  3. stanley perera Says:

    The bank manager is an idiot. He should have first given the preference to the employee and thereafter the names in the list. MR is a common man’s president and understand the situation.

  4. sena Says:

    After JR, Colombo is like a whole other country. The Colombians look at the others from outstations with superiority complex. They are justified, because as detailed in the story, most of the wealth generated in the country is spent in Colombo. But this wealth is generated by poor outstationers working as seamstresses or going abroad as house maids or working in plantations. But all the spending in Colombo are for the benefit of politicians, officials and professionals who do not earn a pittance in foreign exchange but pilfer the dollars earned by the above poor workers for their duty free imports. It was not like this prior to 1977, the villagers had pride of place under Sirima government with very high prices for their produce, but the idiots did not understand these beneficial conditions and voted for JR to savor imported foods with their newly gotten money. This big shift in policies got even bigger with the successive governments and under MR contrary to expectations it has become ever more widened despite his claim of rural upbringing. This policy of favoring non-productive people in the society has resulted in a severe balance of payment crisis which now threaten to undermine the gains of victory against terrorism, which also by the way achieved through the sacrifices of the rural people. If this policy of extravagant spending which is unbearable to our blue collar worker supported subsistence economy is not checked soon, even more asymmetry in economy will surface, even leading to unrest among masses. Another point is these free loading professionals and officials should get together and be more productive and guide Sri Lanka towards a knowledge based economy so that we do not have to send our women as maids to earn dollars.

  5. Dham Says:

    Sena,
    Until you comment, this article and comments was very appealing.
    You, having said “After JR, Colombo is like a whole other country. The Colombians look at the others from outstations with superiority complex. “, destroyed a good discussion taking place. Who are Colombians ? Why don’t you call them UNPiers ?
    Why talk with jealousy and hatred ?

    If Namal is doing such things, we have no future. This is the core problem we are facing , some one called it “Political Problem”. This whole system should be changed to an innovative Sri Lanka made system.

  6. Dham Says:

    Fully agree with Mjaya.
    MR busy with making merry within the same system. That is all. Governement is wasting the lost lives of our sons and daugthers.

  7. AnuD Says:

    I am a political person. I don’t think foreign powers should involve in our affairs. I don’t think JVP should take the govt ever because they caused excessive fear into peoples minds and caused havoc inside the country. Yet, I think, Sri Lankan political system needs major overhaul.

    Think about this young politician who is being moulded to be the future president of Sri lanka. They all continue the same system and live in the same system.

    How many of you say that keeping General Fonseka in the jail is fair. Today, people in the South walk free thanks to them. Today, most people can come home safe after work. But, the one who was a major part of that war is incarcerated.

    Sri Lanka is a orthodox Buddhist country. Don’t you feel shame ?

    I am not suggesting that SF have to be the leader. I am just talking about the deep hole that we are in.

    Because of that, even for the UNHRC resolution, I think, we asked for it and we got it.

    There is no escape for the people living inside the country. IF they are tamils they can escape saying sinhalas bother them.

  8. AnuD Says:

    Sorry, It should be corrected as apolitical person and not a political person.

  9. lingamAndy Says:

    AnuD
    IF they are tamils they can escape saying sinhalas bother them.- Fully agreed
    I Hope & pray for You all ( inc other Tamils & muslim who have not got means to escape) will have better live in near future!

  10. Charles Says:

    Some often say that it is wrong that Sarath Fonseka is in Prison. There is nothing for us to be ashamed of . Sarath Fonseka brought it on himself. He is responsible for the present problems of Sri Lanka.

    Sarath Fonseka should have not taken to politics . He should have stood by the President and the Defense Secretary as the trio would have made Sri Lanka untouchable by the Foreign demons now trying to destroy Sri Lanka.

    SF is a not a simple unaffected man like the President. He is foolish and proud. It is the foolish men who are proud. If SF says he is sorry for what he has done to Sri Lanka the President will pardon him. It is his pride that keeps him in prison to suffer.

  11. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    Stanley !! Managers in Institutions controlled by the State, have no strength of character to take a bold decision. They are dead scared of ” fear close ” politicians, who can sweep them off their seats in a matter of hours. As you say, he should have first given permanent positions to who are already there. He runs the risk of losing his job, though.

    Sending lists of propective employees for “accomodation” is gross intimidation, while usurping his authority. DISGUSTING.

    I will not be surprised if even this little exposure, would lead to the termination of the Manager.

    A PLEA to the Manager, ” Please give that Employee his due permanent position”. You will only be doing the correct thing duty bound. Thanks.

  12. AnuD Says:

    Charles:

    For what ever SF did, President showed that he was scared of SF and he was not a true leader. A true leader would not be scared of him.

    I don’t think, President gives priority to the needs of SriLanka. Then only he can do what he is doing. Prove me I am wrong.

    Anyway, even in the fast there were times that kings got rid of even small children who could claim ownership to the throne.

  13. Lorenzo Says:

    AnuD,

    If SF was not sent to prison, he would have brought MORE trouble on SL.

    It is better to keep in prison for this reason. Not just tne president, all of us should be scared of this foolish person’s dumb statements.

    e.g. White flags

    This whole thing known as the white flag case was INVENTED by SF!

    That is enough to rot him in jail.

    But jail is too good for him. It is a holiday resort.

  14. Dham Says:

    AnuD,
    Sarath Fonseka became the USA puppet. His stupid brain was convinced that he could become president with the help of USA. The best has been done by putting him in jail not because of MR personally scrared of him politically because he could easily have been the next prabhakaran – with some army desrters supporting him. If was really scary for the country.
    Having said that, I too can see the lax of our security now. SF time, superb security – not by him but by others may be.

    Everything back to Chndrika Regime time now.

  15. lingamAndy Says:

    It is his pride that keeps him in prison to suffer.- Hut off to General !

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