The Minister of Education Professor G.L. Peiris said that the distance education is not at all an alternative for classroom teaching. But the attitudinal change that has happened due to the distance education is very important for us. And also the digital library that came along with it is mostly important, the minister said. The minister stated this while participating in the function held on 17.02.2021 at the National Library and Documentation Service Board for launching its ‘Digital Library’ and the web site.
Further expressing his ideas the minister said,
With regard to any disaster in life, we must try to find out their positive trends. But this covid 19 is such a difficult problem that is very hard to find something positive. I strongly believe that it is fruitful thing to try to get an advantage at least indirectly. We started to use the distance education in the face of covid 19 which came unexpectedly in an unexpected time. We know that the provision of education connecting it with the new technology to the children is very important and also fruitful.
But I personally know through my experience the importance of the relationship between the teacher and student. That physical relationship is very important. Therefore, we do not consider this distance education as an alternative at all. But when there is not such a physical meeting, there must be definitely an alternative for it. We also know that all the persons cannot have access to distance education equally due to various difficulties. But because of the covid 19, parents, teachers and the students happened to think of distance education unprecedentedly.
Distance education system has taken the first place in our universities these days. It has been established. Therefore, the way of thinking about the education and the education system with a great attitudinal change has happened. The continuation of educational activities happens within this situation. But I do not see it as an alternative at all. It is only a prop.
Even this ‘Digital Library’ operated by several institutions collectively is specially needed for our society under the current situation. This has provided the opportunity to reach the knowledge through virtual entrance to the library in the internet without entering physically to the library. Even if there are enough books the physical contact with the book is more important. E-book is not so successful to give a physical contact with the book to turn the pages using one’s finger tips. There are scientific reasons for that. When I was the Dean and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo I worked with the Asian Society for the promotion of books in order to develop the reading skill of the children. Therefore I have an experience in this area.
There must be a thirst for knowledge in the mind of a growing child. That is the foundation of a successful education system. There is a connection between reading and writing. Our children wrote 42000 booklets and the actions will be taken to select 100 books out of them and print them. The children will be given the awards and certificates and they are encouraged. Our government launched this program solely with the aim of developing the habit of reading and writing books within the children. It is not so easy to do all these things for the government alone. In this regard, these 4 institutions have done a tremendous service. I like to say that the ministry of education is ready to give the maximum support necessary for this task, the minister said.
The Chairperson of the National Library Mr. Sonala Gunawardana, the country representative of the Asian Society Ms. Dinesha de Silva, the Director General of the National Library Mr. Sunil, the Director of Global Academic Research Institute Sampath Abeywickrama and a group of people had gathered in this occasion.