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STEPS TO RESTRICT INTERNET ACCESS FOR CHILDREN

The National Ceremony to mark World Children’s Day was held at Temple Trees under the patronage of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday. (October 1). Here, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe distributing prizes and certificates among a group of children who had displayed special skills and talents. Women’s and Children Affairs Minister Chandrani Bandara and Women’s and Children’s Affairs Ministry Secretary Asoka Alawatte were also present on the occasion. Picture by Hirantha Gunathilake

The government has taken the initiative to draw up a mechanism to control and manage Internet access for children, Women and Child Affairs Minister Chandrani Bandara yesterday said.

“Accordingly, the government is to design a programme by next year to secure children from improper access to the internet,” she said.

Pointing out that children are prone to various kinds of cyber-violations, Minister Bandara further said that the government is holding a series of discussions with the relevant stakeholders with reference to the matter. The Minister also observed that in certain countries, social media apps such as Facebook are completely blocked.

“Nowadays, it is not enough to keep our children at home and think that they are safe. They can come to harm even behind closed doors of their own rooms. Therefore, the parents always need to stay vigilant of these instances.

It is important that we make sure the students can access the internet only for educative purposes,” the Minister pointed out.

Minister Bandara was speaking at the National Ceremony celebrating World Children’s Day, held at Temple Trees yesterday under the patronage of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

A Stamp and a First Day Cover commemorating World Children’s Day was issued at the ceremony with the participation of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Minister Chandrani Bandara and the Post Master General. Certificates were awarded by the Premier to nine students who have shown exceptional talents in their respective subject areas. A special award was presented to the student who contributed to the art work of the Stamp and the First Day Cover as well.

“The World Bank, for the first time, has come forward to support an Asian country in the Early Childhood Development process by facilitating Sri Lanka,” Minister Bandara also said.

“Accordingly, the World Bank is assisting us in developing pre-schools, training pre-school teachers, providing free food for day care centers and establishing government administrated day care centers.

“These day care centers will not be limited for young children but also to others who need security and care,” the Minister said. Minister Bandara also pointed out that in 2017, around 4,000 children had been abused whereas 956 acts of violence against children have been reported. One hundred and twelve cases of those were child laborers, 117 sexual abuse cases and 602 violations of child rights. The Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, aligning existing national trends related to children with international tendencies, has declared “Strengthen Our Children to go forth with Courage” as this year’s theme for World Children’s Day.

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Subjects for GCE (O/L) exam reduced

The government has also taken a decision to lower the number of subjects that students have to sit for in the Ordinary Level Examination, Women and Child Affairs Minister Chandrani Bandara said.

She pointed out that the decision has been taken by the Ministry of Education. It was also said that the Education Ministry is considering the possibility of lowering the number of subjects down to six.

“The children are dragged to a number of private tuition classes from Grade One. They have no freedom at all. When we were children, we never went for tuition classes. Now the competition has incessantly increased, robbing the children of their childhood. The children are not looked at as individual beings. The parents keep comparing their child to other children. All these bring too much stress on these kids. It is important that we as adults to identify the potentials and skills of their children and motivate them to achieve their goals,” the Minister pointed out.