“WORLD CONSUMER DAY – SUNDAY 15/3/2020”
Posted on March 10th, 2020

Sarath Wijesinghe President’s Counsel /former Chairman Consumer Affairs Authority and former Ambassador to UAE and Israel

World consumer day

World consumer day is the opportunity for the consumer to show strength by flexing muscles agitating their power and rights of the consumer always in the receiving end worldwide- mostly in Sri Lanka with lack of powers to organize and agitate the legitimate needs of the consumer/citizen as every citizen is a consumer at some stage of life. Initiated by John Kennedy in 1963 and the process continues worldwide organizing consumer movement by world consumer movement and many other organizations including Sri Lanka led by the Consumer Affairs Authority the main Regulator in the country and other organizations. It is still not known what steps CAA has taken though celebrated this year whereas previously various programs were organized with the consumer, public, students and the citizen at large. A topic is chosen for this year to work around such as junk food generation, and the current topic discussed are current and timely benefits to the citizen and an eye-opener to the rest of the world including the governance and the trader. This agitation and the process by the consumer international and activism has benefited the citizen directly and indirectly in order to avoid exploitation and unfair trade practices of the trader and industrialist worldwide. The consumer must be alert and vigilant when the trader is expected to be fair and reasonable to strike a balance for a better world and society to live in. citizen/consumer is the most neglected group in the society as stated by Kennedy in 1963 in the USA which is in the lowest ebb in Sri Lanka and many parts of the world. Obviously the world action will have a ripple effect on the genuine needs of the consumer as a result of the worldwide organized consumer movement in which the zenith is on the 15th of March every year at various organized events worldwide.

Sustainable Consumer -Theme of the World consumer day 2020-

Emphasis and priority this year is given to global changes to avert environment breakdown where the consumer has to play a main and vital role to play to avoid the destruction of our global leading to slow and fast suicidal effects due to self-destruction by greedy politicians and industrialist’s consumers included. Consumer Education and organization are vital to avert the self-destruction of ourselves knowingly and unknowingly leading the slow death of the citizen and the globe with irreparable damages to the future mother of earth and the generation to see the daylight. This is a timely and current topic at the doorsteps of the destruction of the mother earth due to unplanned developments and it is the duty of the public bodies to engage in the world consumer movement in the organization of the movement for sustainable consumer movement in the process of saving the planet from destruction in addition to the movement to protect the consumer from exploitation by the enemies of the mankind. Culprits and those responsible are all over – worldwide in this sad destruction process. Forest cover in Sri Lanka is decreasing fast daily due to jungle clearing, forest fire and unplanned developments leading to floods uneven climatic changes disasters due to side effects of man-made disasters for which the man is responsible due to over greed. This could be averted by changing the lifestyle and style of governance. Sand mining is rampant with the assistance and patronage of errant and corrupt politicians and government servants. The Main regulator Consumer Affairs Authority appear to be in a deep sleep occasionally counting the price of vegetables with no vision for their main vision towards the nation! Other regulators such as the local authorities, ministries, appear to be engaged in political strategies and collection of funds for the future. World-famous attractions are in danger due to vandalism and damages by the owners of the land when destruction continues at random with the existence of the number of ministries and departments with enormous powers and funds available when the danger has reached the doorsteps faster than expected. Consumer goods are poisonous and no proper regulation by CAA and other regulators in the no-man arena. It is a sorry state which needs revival by a proper leader as the regulator with a vision and collective action by the consumer organizations and the public.

What is the possible remedy to prevent the imminent disaster and destruction?

The remedy is with us and among over selves to change the lifestyle and style of governance locally and globally. Efforts of the world consumer day and the world consumer movement are to organize the working citizen by education and other awareness devices to inform and warn to be careful and be in the preventive process. Consumer rights and duties are recognized by the United Nations, governments, and d organizations as inalienable rights and duties of the citizen and governments in the interest of the future generation to come. Act no 7 0f 2003 has provided a powerful tool as the Consumer Affairs Authority Act in order to mobilize the citizen and educate them in right directions via workshops and consumer organizations as provided by the Act and one wonders how many consumers have been formed by the CAA act to educate and organized the consumer and interact with trader and manufacturer on order to strike a balance among the groups known as the consumer, trader, manufacturer and the regulators. It is the duty and the practice of the CAA to organize the WCD event annually and one wonders what CAA has done or done at this end and if nothing is done let them start the process at least from next year. CAA and the regulators must mobilize all segments of the society in this direction and the best groups are NGOs, Schools, Universities, Places of work and religious centers media and generally the citizen included aiming at education and researched based movements and workshops. The finger is aimed at CAA as it has been given a lot of funds and power with a mission embodied in the act as a powerful tool with many precedents and examples from the world including the World Consumer movement ever prepared to help us. When Co Cola used water from Thames River it is media that came forward for the consumer to make Cola to kneel down. WHICH magazine in the UK is at the forefront of the consumer movement protecting the consumer and guiding the trader with powerful media colleagues? In Sri Lanka Media and NGOs have different priorities on political and human rights issues which are more lucrative and powerful than engaged on consumerism which is not lucrative enough.

Way forward

State media NGOs and the general public must give priority to consumerism movement as their savior to avoid the destruction of the lives, planet and the future generation by educating and organizing ourselves with the proper guidance of the CAA and other main regulators. It is the duty of all individuals, organizations, states, to be a part of this, the process of saving the citizen and the planet from destruction man-made as well as due to manmade disasters. The current trend of the young generation society and the governance is encouraging and the participation of the consumer individually and collectively is encouraged and admirable. It is a good sign that the media is also involved in many projects in small and large scale. Media is full of disturbing and destructive news on environment disasters with adverse trends and opposition form social media as FB and other means of communication. We wish and hope the trend to continue as a force with the blessings and encouragement of the Regulator headed by the Consumer Affairs Authority the consumer is dependent on.

(Reading materials -Today is World Consumer Day- 15/3/18/Mirror-Consumer Justice -15/3/2013 consumer justice now-Guardian-12/3/2115 Guardian Healthy Food- Guardian – 15/12014 Guardian Fix your Phones Right- Telegraph 15/3 /2016 Antibiotic off the Menu -Daily News Junk Food-Wise Consumer 19/ 12/2018mirror – Guardian 21/ 3 /2011Fair Financial service- Observer  6/ 1 /2008 Alert Consumer and powers of CAA  all by the author who  could be reached on sarath7@hotmail.co.uk)

ENGLISH EDUCATION IN SRI LANKA – AN OVERVIEW

Sarath Wijesinghe President’s Counsel- former Ambassador to UAE and Israel

English inherited by British

English is a language inherited by The British currently used as a link language and a National Language which is commonly used in education and private sector in Sri Lanka fast spreading due to the unprecedented demand as a stepping stone on education and a symbol of social recognition with less resistance by the students and parents as in the decades 50/60/70 with less encouragement by the citizen. Today English has transferred to be a craze and a need with growing demand mainly by the younger generation in this competitive society at the doorsteps of the computer age. It is spoken in India (125million-Pakistan 94 million-and Philippines 95.46 million with percentages 95.46 in the USA, 10.60 in India, 56.72 in Nigeria indication how the language is spread in the English speaking world as a link and a working language showing to what extent the language is penetrated to the life of the citizen. Meyler who searched on spoken English in Sri Lanka says English spoken in Sri Lanka is clear and understood. The expression of the Sri Lankans living abroad especially in the west is clear and understood unlike other ethnic groups with mixed and complicated dialects’. It is said that 23.8 of the population could speak English with the least efforts whereas the young generation educated at international schools speak and perform day to day jobs at ease setting as an example to the unemployed graduates fighting on the road for government jobs in any capacity. Currently, there is a trend to learn English and classes and courses are conducted island-wide by schools and private institutions which need regularization and supervision and it is time for the Ministry of Education to draw up a program which is the need of the hour.

English Language – Origin

English was originated in the 5th century with the advent of the German Tribes introducing Old English Middle English and Modern English with developments from era to era. It is an official language in 38 countries including Sri Lanka and a world and a computer language which is an important tool to reach the world, trade commerce, international organizations, travel, and a mode of communication with the rest of the world spreading to 360 million citizens used as the first language. British invaded Sri Lanka in 1796 and in 1833 Colebrook Commission made recommendations for reforms and education when the entire system of Education was in the hands of the British Empire. Sinhala and religious education were in the hands of Bikkues” and Pirivanas and the British introduced educational institutions and Churches with state patronage creating a privileged class of citizens educated in English to serve the state and the governance. Education including English Education was in the hands of the government and churches were allowed to start schools with the patronage of the government. Emphasis was given to grammar in English Education as English was spoken wildly by the elite including a different class of strata in the society and English and Education was confined to a separate class with resentment from the rest of the population until 1956 changes brought about by SWRD transferring the medium of education to Sinhala and Tamil when India continued the system of Education in English and local languages with options to students to choose the medium of instructions. 1971 insurrection was created by a frustrated group of youth taking the country back to three to four decades with destruction deaths and destruction who were not in favor of English Education claiming to be a stepping stone to be in a different class of English Educated group of the privileged class. Under the 1978 constitution, Sinhala and Tamil were made official languages by the 13th amendment elevating the position of Tamil as a link language. From 2000 onwards much was spent and steps are taken to improve English Education with no success and today the English Language has reached the apex of the pyramid with a craze to learn English spoken and written.

Need and Craze of English today

Undoubtedly English is the passport and the stepping stone for education foreign employment and in-country job avenues further education included. International schools of no class and standards are doing a great service-producing students with reasonable knowledge of English and capable of conversing in English enable to obtain employment in private establishments setting as example to the unemployed graduates agitating for government jobs of any kind due to lack of vision exposure and a sound knowledge of English for exposure and capability to be employed in the private sector or self-employed as any other graduates worldwide not demanding employments from governments. Obviously it is not fair on their part to demand employment from the governance after having provided free education from childhood to university education which is a rare privilege given to Sri Lankan youth. Media is full of advertisements on classes conducted countrywide on residential, non-residential, classes at all levels by teachers attracted by the students on their talents and capabilities. Whether English is taught properly correctly are matters to be supervised by the regulators end educationists in order to regularize English Education which is the need of the hour to avoid misleading and exploiting the students in need to learn correct English to cater to their needs. There are more mobiles available than the population for Lanka and computer literacy is satisfactory and improving among the citizen which is a good sign.

Way Forward for the improvement of English Education as a grave need for the Nation

No doubt it is the priority as it will provide opportunities to improve education standards, employment opportunities locally and abroad, afford self-made opportunities as in the Philippine where English Education and training for employment are scientifically conducted by the government providing 30percent of the population in foreign employment of high standards. Thousands of students are studying abroad and many are exploring avenues to find opportunities worldwide for themselves which is the current need of the hopes and boom for the young with hopes and plans for them and the nation. Eglsi obviously a vehicle for development growth and future prospects individually and collectively a dit is the duty of the regulators, teachers, and Educationists to be more proactive and launch a collective effort in this exercise on providing better English to the needy for a better day for Sri Lanka.

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