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In December, 1999, as President Kumaratunga prepared to begin a second term of office, she barely survived an attempted assassination, and she did lose an eye. Her reelection came with 51.2 percent of the vote, the lowest percentage in the nation's history, and a realization that Sri Lankans were discouraged with politics. The assassination attempt increased President Kumaratunga's resolve to institute national reforms.
Chandrika Kumaratunga, president of Sri Lanka since 1993 and the daughter of a previous prime minister and president, both named Bandaranaike, has scaled back many oppressive and discriminatory aspects of education and language laws that precipitated the civil war. Surprisingly, the university system in the Tamil region remains open and funded by the central government while Sinhalese universities suffer from Tamil insurgency. Long-term peace in Sri Lanka depends on the creation of a pluralistic and multiethnic nation. Proposals of the Kumaratunga government bear a striking similarity to the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact of 1957, which proposed that Sri Lanka be a multiethnic state with Tamil as a national language in the northern and eastern sections of the country. The government would provide full protection for non-Tamil speakers and regional councils were permitted authority over centralized political system favoring the majority. Locally elected leaders could administer land development projects.
The civil war has persisted into the twenty-first century, fought primarily in the Tamil regions of eastern and northern Sri Lanka, but Tamil guerrillas have brought the war to all parts of the country. President Jayewardene's attempts to grant Tamil autonomy under Indian supervision caused great fear among the Sinhalese majority of the nation's impending division and permanent Indian occupation. Later Sri Lankan presidents accepted Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's offer to mediate the dispute between Tamils and Sinhalese. Gandhi's efforts ended tragically with his assassination in 1991, by Tamils opposed to Gandhi's use of Indian troops to suppress the Tamil insurrection in Sri Lanka. Two years later in 1993, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated five years into his presidency when he proposed substantial grants of autonomy in Tamil areas. Although blamed, the Tamil rebels rejected responsibility for his death.
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Funding & Support: Foreign governments and agencies provide needed additional funding to further improvements in the Sri Lanka educational system. The World Bank funds teacher education and teacher deployment projects to improve teacher quality and make education more widely available to the general population. The Secondary Education Development Act funded the renewal of 178 secondary schools and 14 newly established teacher-training colleges, consultancy services for curriculum development, and a new building complex to house the Department of Examinations. The Japanese government funded development work on 12 new junior secondary schools, while the , under the Department for International Development, continues to fund primary mathematics, primary English, and primary education planning projects.
[tags: teaching, teachers, Sri Lanka]
Ministry of Education: In 1978, the Ministry of Education was divided into a Ministry of Education and a Ministry for Higher Education. The former agency oversaw elementary and secondary education. In 1979, a Ministry of Education Services was created to provide books and materials and to review the condition of school facilities. The promotion and recruitment of teachers was assigned to the Public Science Commission. The Minister of Education is appointed by the president of Sri Lanka, is a member of the presidential cabinet, and is assisted by three Deputy Director-Generals of Education, each responsible for school organization, curriculum development and teacher education, or planning. The island is divided into 15 regions, each with a regional director with authority for school construction, maintenance, repair, and teacher supervision. The regional director recruits the teachers, assigns them to schools, and arranges transfers.
The major purchasers are located in urban areas within Sri Lanka.
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The Sri Lankan Parliament consists of one chamber with 225 members, elected by a system of modified proportional representation. The country comprises 9 provinces and 24 administrative districts, each with an appointed governor and elected Development Council. In November 1987, an amendment to the Constitution provided for eight provincial councils, with the northern and eastern provinces merged as one administrative unit.
[tags: Sri Lanka, Global Reporting Initiative, Reporting]
The censorship continued at the civilian level with the appointment of Ariya Rubasinghe as the chief censor and with the announcement of even tighter restrictions in November 1999. On June 30, 2000, a panel of three judges of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court unanimously nullified the appointment of a government censor or "competent Authority" in response to a fundamental rights petition filed by the newspaper group, Leader Publications, challenging the closure of the and associated Sinhalese newspapers by the chief censor. The immediate reason for the action was the publication of an article in the Sunday Leader entitled "War in Fantasyland," which lampooned the government's censorship policy. More importantly, the was known to be associated with Gamini Dissanaike, the opposition UNP's presidential candidate in 1994 before he was murdered during the campaign by a suicide bomber. The chief censor had also closed down the offices of the only Tamil daily published in Jaffna on grounds that the daily was "maliciously and detrimentally" publishing information that was biased in favor of the LTTE. The Supreme Court's annulment of the appointmentof the chief censor had been based on a technicality that the government had failed to submit the appointment to the parliament for review within seven days as required by law. However, the Court went further than the issue at hand and struck down the decision to close down the newspapers involved as "a nullity and of no force or avail in law." The Court also ordered the government to pay damages to the Leader Group of Publications. Disturbing to the champions of freedom of the press was the Court's stipulation that the "rights and freedoms of the citizens under ordinary laws may be disregarded" and that the purposes of the emergency regulations were "legitimate." Obviously, the Court did not want to destabilize the political situation in the country and thought it judicious not to hamper the ability of the state to fight the war.