Ragging in Sri Lanka

Ragging in Sri Lanka

I think most of Sri Lankans are already aware of inhuman ragging in Sri Lankan universities (Visit that has caused several deaths, lifelong injuries and both physical and mental trauma to the freshers. The most recent heinous act where a bunch of male and female students in the University of Kelaniya forced a new female student to remove her jeans saying that it does not suit to freshers and the girl in turn refused it blatantly and made a complaint in the police and the alleged raggers were remanded could be just the tip of the iceberg. Ragging should have been nipped in the bud but authorities turned a blind eye at the beginning and ragging went out of control.

In some universities or faculties ragging has been replaced with just socialization with fun activities but where there is strong Inter University Students’ Federation influence ragging is going berserk causing the new students severe traumas. (ISUSF is allegedly controlled by Frontline Socialist Party. Formerly Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna -JVP did the same but they lost control of the ISUSF as a result of the party split into two due to inernal clashes.)

Ragging with Fun

Ragging with Fun

Due to inhuman ragging in universities, a significant number of students do not enter universities despite university entrance exam being highly competitive affair and only a small percentage of students get the opportunity to enter a state university. They either give up higher education totally or attend private higher educational institutes by paying huge sum of monies at a time they can get a better free education (with a bursary also) in state universities. (According to University Grants Commission statistics, just 17% of qualified Advanced Level test takers found places at state universities in 2009/10 (and just 10.5 percent of all test-takers.)

According some friends of mine, the humiliation they were subjected to was “worse than death.” They had been forced to perform sodomy and lesbian sex totally naked with a fresher of the same sex at least once in their hostels (in front of 100s of seniors and freshers) just to “educate” the freshers such relationships exist in hostels and the freshers have to accept such behavior. If they themselves do not find gay sex as their cup of tea, they should not at least disturb others who find so.

Due to some unfortunate circumstances I could not sit for my Advanced Level in the stipulated year (1991) and had to sit for it in 1998 exactly after 10 years after sitting for Ordinary Level (1988) in a totally different stream (Arts) than what I studied for (Bio Science) without much assistance from others. I was already an English teacher when I did so and all I prayed was, “Please do not pass me to be selected to university. Give me a result where I can pass the exam but not too many mars to be selected university, just because of these horrific ragging.” I knew I will be targeted for who I am. Luckily I got ‘yes’ marks and not enough marks to be selected to a university. Thank God.

I love to learn in a university even at this late stage of my life but never in a Sri Lankan state university. I will invite troubles there. I will somehow save and study in an American university even at the age of 50 (in 6 years time.)

Ragging prevails even at high school level in Sri Lankan public schools. I entered Central College, Anuradhapura in 1990 to do my Advanced Level (university entrance exam) and was ragged severely inside a boys’ toilet for just “being tall.” The excuse given by senior students was that “if we did not rag you like this to a tall guy like you, you will become a dickhead in the school.” (උඹට මෙහෙම රැග් නොකළොත් උඹලා මේකේ කැරියෝ වෙනවා.)


Sri Lanka University Ragging (7)






Who is Malala?


Despite all the conspiracy theories against her, I am a great admirer of Malala Yousafzai, world’s youngest ever Nobel laureate from one of our neighboring countries, Pakistan. Like most of the other non-Pakistanis, I too heard about her after being shot by the Talibans on October 9, 2012. I followed news casts after that about her deteriorating health and near death experiences. Just like the rest of you, I too was shocked as to how on earth a man can shoot such an innocent and beautiful butterfly like Malala (or any other child for that matter.) I was relieved once I heard the news that she would survive.

Malala Yousafzai lying in hospital bed

Malala Yousafzai in the hospital bed.

Ever since I followed news about her. After her book “I am Malala” was published, I immediately downloaded the audio version of the book and listened to it zillion times. I still do. I also downloaded the e-book version and read that too. As if it was not enough, I also bought the printed book and read that too. Read my blog post about Malala’s autobiography “I am Malala” in here.

I am Malala

I Am Malala book cover

I also recommended the book I am Malala to the university undergraduates who learned English and English literature from me and they enjoyed discussing and reading it a lot. I made it the compulsory book to read and discuss with the English and English literature class I am doing for English teachers and young graduates who learn from me at Horizon Lanka. She is a big inspiration to them as well.


“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” ― Malala Yousafzai

Recently, I found a good picture of Malala with her famous slogan “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world” in the background. I set the image as the wallpaper of my laptop. Not only that, I set it as the wallpaper in my mobile phone also. So, the Horizon Lanka students asked who that cute girl was. I said she is Malala. Then my students asked the same question the Taliban terrorist asked Malala seconds before shooting her, “Who is Malala?”


Malala’s picture as my laptop’s wallpaper


Malala’s in my mobile phone’s wallpaper

Then I opened up the Wikipedia page about her and some of the images taken while she was wounded and her speeches, interviews, etc. in YouTube and briefed about her life and the great risks she took in fighting for the right for girls’ education. My students were greatly inspired and wanted to set the same image of Malala I used as my wallpaper in the other 10 PCs at Horizon Lanka too. This is how their PCs look like now. I don’t know when they will replace with someone/something else but definitely not any sooner according to their love towards Malala. Now all the girls here want to be Malalas.


Horizon Lanka’s Malalas with Malala’s picture as the wallpaper in their PCs.

Sri Lanka does not have a big issue when it comes to girls’ education. In most of the schools, colleges and universities girls constitute more than the boys even in challenging fields such as technical, engineering, medical, etc. fields. Even Muslim girls here excel in higher education and in professional careers. But we need more Malalas here to promote education among both girls and boys, especially in rural areas where there is less facilities and urge to go for higher education.


Horizon Lanka students with Malala’s picture as the wallpaper in their PCs.

Computers for Horizon Lanka, Mahawilachchiya

flyer-smallMahawilachchiya is a rural village 45 kilometers away from Anuradhapura town. It is situated in the boundary of the Wilpattu National Park. You would be surprised to hear that the children of this distant village excel in computers and English with the little resources they have with their educational institute, the Horizon Lanka.

Horizon Lanka Foundation has been serving the village of Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka since its inception in 1998. It has been able to produce software engineers and other IT professionals, English teachers, other teachers, professionals in government and private sectors, BPO operators, etc. Scores of other Horizon Lanka students are studying in universities and other higher educational institutes. After a lapse of 3 ½ years Horizon Lanka was again started in July, 2014 to teach English, ICT, mathematics and science to the village children.

Though we have a computer lab, we do not have computers yet. We need PCs, furniture for the PCs, a laptop, multimedia projector and a screen, a laser printer, a scanner and a digital camera. If you can contribute to any of the items in the list please communicate with Mr. Wanni, the Founder of the Horizon Lanka on 077-7702678 or 071-9184005. Email is and We welcome even the used items.

In the past, Horizon Lanka had an interesting and innovative approach to ICT teaching. Both local and foreign volunteers helped students by coming and teaching computers in workshops, camps, lectures, etc. You too can do the same. The output was a large number of computer enthusiastic students who excelled in their careers related to computers and English.

Social Media Workshop at the American Center

Prasad Perera doing the workshop

Prasad Perera doing the workshop

Last Monday I attended a social media workshop at the American Center. The instructor was a guy called Prasad Perera. He covered Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and digital storytelling. It was a very effective workshop. I learnt a lot there.

Usually majority of the social media users use only the very basic features of the social media tools. But if you attend this workshop you can learn a lot more than what you already know. They have a basic, intermediate and advanced level workshops. You can contact the American Center for more details.

Public Diplomacy Office of the American Embassy

44, Galle Road, Colombo 3

Sri Lanka.

Phone: 94-11-2498153

Fax: 94-11-2449070


Rehan School, Pakistan

Rehan School

Rehan School

Education is a basic right of all human beings. Rehan Allahwala thinks that everyone in Pakistan has a right to educate themselves and become successful in their chosen fields. But 43% of the population in Pakistan is illiterate.

Rehan thinks that this could be achieved by using simple mobile phones. He believes that inexpensive mobile phones without Internet access can do this revolution.

According to my understanding, Rehan School is a mobile phone based virtual school system that allows anyone who has a mobile phone access the prerecorded video lessons free of charge. With expanding mobile coverage in Pakistan, this will be an exciting way to reach the rural illiterate communities. Since this is a free service, millions of Pakistanis can benefit.

This school is available nationwide in Pakistan in all the DVD and mobile phone shops distributed by the largest content distribution company CD Bank Pakistan.

The price of this content is free, but the mobile shop keeper may charge a small fee of 50 rupees to transfer the content in the required format on the mobile phone’s memory card. Later on, this video content can be given by that phone user to anyone else, using Bluetooth for free.

There are 6 billion mobile devices in the world as per Wikipedia. In Pakistan, there are 112 million mobile phones out of the 180-million population. A brand new video playing mobile phone is available in Pakistan for 1,150 Rupees. So, Rehan School content can reach a wider population. Celebrities in Pakistan have already committed to the project by rendering their services free of charge.

සුබස “ඉඟිවදන” මගින් පහසුවෙන් සිංහල, දෙමළ, ඉංග්‍රීසි භාෂා online පරිවර්තනය කරගන්න.

සුබස ඉඟිය

සුබස ඉඟිය

අපේ රටේ අන්තර්ජාලය පාවිච්චි කරන බොහෝ දෙනෙකුට තියෙන ප්‍රශ්නයක් තමයි ප්‍රමාණවත් ඉංග්‍රීසි දැනුමක් නොමැතිවීම. තවත් සමහරෙකුට තියෙන ප්‍රශ්නයක් තමයි ඉංග්‍රීසි දැනුමක් තිබුණත් සමහර ලොකු වචනවල තේරුම හොයාගන්න අපහසු වීම. එහෙම වුණාම ගොඩක් අය කරන්නේ Madura Online වෙබ් අඩවියට ගිහින් තේරුම හොයාගන්න එක. ඒක දැනට තියෙන හොඳ විකල්පයක්. ඒත් ඊටත් වඩා පහසු විකල්පයක් කොළඹ විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයීය පරිගණක අධ්‍යයන ආයතනයේ භාෂා තාක්ෂණ පර්යේෂණාගාරය විසින් එළි දක්වලා තියෙනවා. ඒක Firefox හා Thunderbird වලට add-on එකක් විදියට ස්ථාපනය කරගන්න පුළුවන් ඉතා පහසුවෙන්. මේකේ නම “සුබස ඉඟිවදන.” සුබස අකුරු විනිස පිරික්සුව ගැන මම ඔබව මීට දින කිහිපයකට පෙර දැනුවත් කළා. ඉඟිවදනත් එයාලගෙම වැඩක්. Add-on එක ස්ථාපනය කළාට පස්සෙ තියෙන්නෙ Firefox restart කරලා තමන්ට අවශ්‍ය වචනය උඩින් mouse pointer එක තියන එක විතරයි. ඉංග්‍රීසි වචනයක් නම් සිංහලෙන්ද, සිංහල වචනයක් නම් ඉංග්‍රීසියෙන්ද නිවැරදි අර්ථය ඉඟිය මගින් ලබා දෙනවා. බොහෝ දුරට ඉතාම නිවැරදියි. දෙමළ භාෂාවටත් මෙය ප්‍රතිචාර දක්වන බව සඳහන් වෙතත් මම දෙමළ නොදන්නා නිසා ඒ ගැන යමක් කියන්න බෑ.

සමහර වෙලාවට ඉබේටම ඉඟිවදන සේවය නතර වෙනවා. ඒ ඇයි කියන්න මම දන්නේ නෑ. ඒ වෙලාවට මම කරන්නේ Firefox එක නැවත restart කරන එක විතරයි. එතකොට ආයෙත් වැඩකරනවා.

මමත් මේ ගැන දැනගත්තේ සමන් බණ්ඩාර හේරත්ගේ බ්ලොග් අඩවියෙන්.

ඉඟිවදන install (ස්ථාපනය) කරගන්නා අයුරු මෙතනින් ඉගෙන ගන්න. හරිම පහසුයි.

සුබස ඉංග්‍රීසියෙන් සිංහලට පරිවර්තනය

සුබස ඉංග්‍රීසියෙන් සිංහලට පරිවර්තනය

සුබස සිංහලෙන් ඉංග්‍රීසියට පරිවර්තනය

සුබස සිංහලෙන් ඉංග්‍රීසියට පරිවර්තනය

සුබස අකුරු විනිස පිරික්සුව

subasa logo

සුබස කියන්නේ කොළඹ විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයයේ UCSC එකෙන් එළි දක්වපු වෙබ් අඩවියක්. හොඳ සිංහල spellchecker  එකක් හොය හොය ඉන්නකොට මටත් මේ ගැන කිව්වේ උදාර ධර්මසේන. සුබසේ වෙනත් අංග කිහිපයක් තිබුණත් මම නම් පාවිච්චි කරන්නේ spellchecker එක විතරයි. මම දැන් මාස දෙක තුනක් තිස්සෙම ඒක පාවිච්චි කරනවා. 100%ක් නිවැරදි නොවුණත් බොහෝ අවස්ථාවලදී නිවැරදිව අක්ෂර වින්‍යාසය ලබාදෙනවා. සිංහල යුනිකෝඩ්වලට විතරයි හරියන්නේ. විශේෂයෙන්ම අපේ සිංහල බ්ලොග් කරුවෝ මේක පාවිච්චි කළොත් හොඳයි කියලා හිතෙනවා. අපි දැනටමත් බොහෝ සෙයින් අපේ භාෂාව විනාශ කරගෙන තියෙන එකේ ඉතුරු ටිකක් විනාශ වෙන්න ඉස්සර ලියන දෙයක් මේ වෙබ් අඩවියට ගෙනත් අකුරු හරියටම හරිද කියලා බලලා පළ කළොත් තමයි වඩා හොඳ.

ව පිළිතුරු දුන් අවස්ථාවක්

නිවැරදිව පිළිතුරු දුන් අවස්ථාවක්

වැරදි පිළිතුරු දුන් අවස්ථාවක්

වැරදි පිළිතුරු දුන් අවස්ථාවක්

The Terminator in an English Class in Colombo

Terminator 2 - Judgement Day

Terminator 2 – Judgement Day

Would you believe that today’s Colombo kids are still in love with the Terminator franchise of movies? Yes they are. I teach 3 groups of Colombo kids and – there are kids from Grade 1 up to Grade 9 – and all of them, irrespective of their age levels, love to watch Terminator on the multimedia screen. I was surprised myself as this movie is so old and it came when we were kids. (The Terminator (1) appeared in 1984.) With all the high tech Computer-generated imagery (CGI) and 3D animation that are available today, what is the big secret behind kids’ allure to the Terminator?

I showed a part of the Terminator 2 – Judgment Day, the scene where the lethal cyborg T 1000 chasing John Connor in a big truck to the students and asked if they would like to see the rest of it or see Rio instead. Everyone said they would go for T2 as they had already seen Rio in theater or on TV.

They enjoyed every bit of T2 and learnt a lot of English terms as well. I never thought that it would be this effective. Kids even wanted to draw Arnold Schwarzenegger. He became their instant hero. When I left for a tea shop for the interval, I told the kids “I will be back!” in Schwarzenegger tone jokingly and the kids now want me to say it every day when I go for tea.

I am surprised that how James Cameron managed to do that much of super graphic work in an era (1991) where there was less computer graphics those days. Even today those graphic work in T2 would be a challenge to the graphic artists.

After T2, they insisted in watching Terminator 3, The Rise of the Machines as well. Now we are in the last parts of the movie with the English classes. After that they want to see Terminator 4, Terminator Salvation as well. But I suggested they see The Terminator, the first in the franchise instead. They should know where it all started. What I don’t like about the first movie is that its environment is too dirty.

The problem with the Terminator series is that they come with a lot of American slang and filthy words. To avoid them, I had to be extra careful. There is nothing wrong teenagers learning some slang though. Slang too is needed once you grow up.

Believe me, still there is a Terminator 2 game machine in Realty Plaza shopping mall in Ja Ela. Realty Plaza being a new shopping mall I can’t understand why they did not go for newer games.
I can remember, in American Reunion (The latest of the American Pie franchise,) one guy saying that the Terminator 2 is the best ever movie made.  Well, I was in that cult for some time too.

Shouldn’t Sri Lankan School Uniforms Be Changed

School Uniforms in a High School

School Uniforms in a High School

Common Sri Lankan girls' uniform.

Common Sri Lankan girls’ uniform.

There was much talk about a politician forcing a female teacher, a disciplinarian of the school, to kneel down before him for advising his daughter not to wear shorter uniforms to the school. That was the story the media provided us. There might be unheard incidents that were related to this story. You can have a look at to see an alternative perspective to the incident.

I highly condemn the politician’s reaction on the said issue but we have to take a closer look at it as to see what causes this type of things to arise in public schools.

Are we using the ideal path to discipline the school children? Most of the issues come when dealing with the teenagers. We hear stories of young girls committing suicide after teachers’ advising or punishments to them, boys attacking teachers or fellow students, teachers’ cutting the boys’ hair, girls’ frocks hems’ stiches being ripped, etc. are being done by the teachers and the school prefects. These measures may be taken by teachers as the last resort to the problem as some students don’t heed to kind advice but I am of the view that some of the rules and regulations should be relaxed a bit as the world has gone forward from the past and students are exposed to the existence of more lenient rules in other parts of the world.

Sri Lankan private schools provide more freedom to the students and I don’t know whether it has produced negative developments in relation to the discipline. Since we don’t have much access to private schools we can’t comment. But with such stronger disciplinary actions, what we hear from the media is that it is in the public schools that major disciplinary issues get reported.

Take our public school uniforms for an example. They are cool and look nice but how difficult it is to maintain these pure white uniforms? When I was a schoolboy many times I dreamt of having brown color uniforms so that we could easily play in the playground and travel by bicycle or bus. In most of the outstation areas, students travel to school on foot, by bicycles or by bus. How difficult it is for the schoolgirls to ride a bicycle with a frock that is long up to knee level? I find Muslim girls riding bicycles easily as they wear trousers for the lower part of the body. They wear salwars. Why don’t we change the girls’ uniforms to something more comfortable? Of course, I know that conservatives will come at me with clubs and all that but this is my view.

Sri Lankan school girls in uniform

Sri Lankan school girls in uniform

I spent a few days in a private school in Miami, Florida in the year 2,000 and the uniform of the school was very flexible for the students. (Most American schools don’t have uniforms at all.) The school, Miami Country Day School had two choices of the colors. One was red (for cooler season of the year) and the other was pure white (for the hotter season of the year) and the students were free to wear what is comfortable for them during any time of the year. Moreover, they could select between long trousers or shorts as they wish. I saw girls wearing shorts and T- shirts and putting their legs on their tables and nobody cared. When I asked about this one of the teachers what she told was that the teenagers are full of energy due to growth hormones and they shouldn’t be restricted unnecessarily so that their growth can be affected. Now, I am not suggesting that we should go that far, but more freedom should be introduced step by step for our students also.

Students in Miami Country Day School, Miami, Florida, USA

Students in Miami Country Day School, Miami, Florida, USA

Students in Miami Country Day School, Miami, Florida, USA

Students in Miami Country Day School, Miami, Florida, USA

British students in uniforms

British students in uniforms

British students in uniforms

Girls in Kekirawa Central College in lamasaris

Girls in Kekirawa Central College in lamasaris

I have seen the girls of Kekirwa Central College wearing lama saris to school and they look very nice but how uncomfortable for them to use them while traveling and doing sports? A change is not that difficult. Wickramasheela Maha Vidyalaya in Giriulla has a brownish uniform for the girls and once there had been some efforts to change it to white as in the other public schools but it had been the schoolboys who had protested and the authorities had to retain the brownish uniform. I am surprised at how this particular school had guts to design a color uniform for its students. Hope other schools also could follow suit.

Girls in Kekirawa Central College in lamasaris

Girls in Kekirawa Central College in lamasaris

Teaching English to an Italian Born Sri Lankan Girl

Shehana Mahabethmage

Parents of an Italian born Sri Lankan girl requested me last week to teach their daughter some English during this month while they are in Sri Lanka. Teaching a student a language with just 4 hours a week within a month is a big challenge. But I took up the challenge to at least make her comfortable with English language within a month.

The girl is Shehana Mahabethmage. She is just 10 years old and study in Grade Five in Roccasinibalda School in Varco Sabino, Italy. Her first language is Italian. She knows basic Sinhala but not the big words. She can read English fast but with Italian pronunciations. I started from the very beginning such as the alphabet in a double rule book. She catches the lessons very fast. She is very keen to learn.

As part of the lesson, we started watching “Racing Stripes” movie. She enjoys it very much and learns a lot from English subtitles. Kids can learn from subtitles of good movies. This is something I tested for the last couple of years.

My problem is what will happen after she leaves for Italy at the end of the month. She cannot find an English teacher in the small town she lives in. I have experiences in teaching few Japanese youth English through Skype and perhaps we can continue to do the same with Shehana.