The government has taken steps to end discrimination against rural students in the educational arena through the Mahindodaya school development programme, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said.
He said politicians in the past failed to provide facilities for students to pursue their education in the Advanced Level science stream, and added that the number of arts graduates were on the increase.
The President said the Hambantota district had only one school with facilities for Advanced Level science students.
President Rajapaksa was speaking at the distribution of school bags, stationary and bottles of water to 20,000 Grade One students in the Kalutara district at St Mary’s College, Matugama for the third consecutive year on 25 January.
This programme is funded by Transport Minister Kumara Welgama from his personal funds. Three leading schools in the Matugama electorate, - CWW Kannangara Central College, St Mary’s College and Ananda Shastralaya received new buses on this occasion.
President Rajapaksa also opened the swimming pool at St Mary’s College, Matugama.
The President requested parents not to distance their children from religious places.
He added that the parents should not deprive the students of religious education.
President Rajapaksa was of the view that everyone should have a responsibility to mould the younger generation with high standards of moral and ethical values.
He added that the children can not achieve higher standards of education through money or facilities. "Students should dedicate themselves to ascend the ladder of education and contribute to the development of the country.
The President noted that the Government has decided to provide a pair of shoes for students from this year. He added that the Government has provided educational opportunities for students who do not qualify for university entrance.
The President said that more than 45,000 students have applied for technical courses island wide. He said only three percent out of 300,000 students who sit for the Advanced Level examination , enter universities.
Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena, Transport Minister Kumara Welgama and Western Provincial Councillor Chandrabanu Adikarama also spoke on this occasion.