Vocational training for
The government has taken the initiative to recruit school-leavers and
school dropouts for vocational training courses under a special
programme scheduled to be implemented by the Foreign Employment
Promotion and Welfare Ministry.
Minister of Foreign Employment and Welfare, Dilan Perera told the
Junior Observer that school dropouts and school- leavers should not be
isolated and they must be given comprehensive training on important
vocational fields to enable them to find employment in Sri Lanka and
"School- leavers must also be given training on important subjects
such as English Language and Information Technology, considering that a
large number of jobs related to the field of Information Technology are
currently available in Sri Lanka and abroad,".
The Minister said jobs are also available in Middle Eastern and other
countries for skilled workers and therefore the Ministry has made
several plans to train young school-leavers at vocational training
institutions throughout the country.
The Minister said these programmes would be started in collaboration
with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Vocational Training and also with
the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, the authorised foreign
Great Barrier Reef
under threat from floods
Australia's spectacular Great Barrier Reef is under threat from
massive floods swamping the country's northeast which are pouring
harmful debris and sediment into the sea, an expert said on January 6.
The full impact of the floods, which are rushing huge volumes of
water into the pristine surrounds of the world's largest coral reef, is
not yet known, but the influx will stress the colourful corals, said
Michelle Devlin.a researcher at James Cook University in northern
"This does impact on the reef. It just impacts on the reef's
resilience so you get very stressed corals and you get stressed sea
grass,"explained Devlin, He said while the rivers have always poured
into the reef, the floods were no longer bringing just rainwater, but
also sediment, nutrients and pesticides.
"Top soil will run straight off into the water and that will come
straight out into the Great Barrier Reef," said the researcher, who
chased the flood plumes by boat to take samples and track the extent of
"There's a lot of water around and already it would be influencing
the reef," she said, describing the mixture of fresh, warm water,
nutrient-heavy soil and pesticide run-offs as a harmful "cocktail" for
"There is just going to be this cocktail of water containing a lot of
things that they (the corals) wouldn't necessarily have seen before. It
is fresh, warm water and that will stress corals out as well."
Devlin said flood plumes were visible near the coastal city of
Rockhampton, where floods have virtually cut off the town of 75,000, and
already stretched to up to 40 kilometres offshore.
As more floodwaters brought by weeks of torrential rains make their
way to the coast, the dirty river water will pour into the reef for
weeks, enabling the plume to extend for hundreds of kilometres, she
And although the worst of the flooding is at the southern end of the
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, experts expect the floodwaters to drift
towards the Whitsunday Islands, a tourist hotspot at the centre of the
Already the plume is at the scenic Keppel islands north of
Rockhampton and Devlin said these would likely bear the brunt of the
Delvin said the floods were some of the biggest in decades and it was
too early to know what impact they would have overall on the Great
Barrier Reef Marine Park, which stretches some 2,300 kilometres up the
But she said it was possible that sea grass beds - a key feeding
ground for marine creatures such as dugongs - could be wiped out in some
areas while the additional nutrients in the water could allow the crown
of thorns starfish - a pest on the reef - to flourish.
"This is a really massive event," Devlin said. "It has the potential
to shift the food web and it has the potential to shift how the reef
operates.""But it is a really robust ecosystem," she said of the reef
which teems with marine life and boasts hundreds of coral species.
News from the animal kingdom:
Elephant census in
With the objective of ascertaining the number of elephants left in
the country, following the increasing number of deaths reported,
wildlife officials intend to conduct an islandwide census on elephants
According to the Director General of the Department of Wildlife, Dr.
Chandrawansa Pathiraja, such a census was carried out last in 2007.
It is estimated that there are about 4,000 to 5,000 elephants in the
wild but with over 200 elephants being killed annually as a result of
the on going elephant-man conflict, the numbers could dwindle very fast.
The government will effect strict measures to protect the elephant
population in the country as they are a national treasure, says Dr.
A sea lion that
An eight-year-old sea lion 'Leo' looks at the camera after writing
the word 'Rabbit' in Chinese characters as part of a New Year's
attraction at the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama in
Kanagawa prefecture, suburban Tokyo in early January this year.February
2011 will mark the start of the Year of the Rabbit according to the
lunar calender, a 12-year cycle followed by China and other parts of
A Panda Cow
Panda Cow - nicknamed for its panda bear markings, was born on a
Northern Colorado farm last month. His mother is a Lowline Angus cow.
The Panda Cow is a very rare breed of miniature cow, with only 24
similar animals in the world as of the last count, according to TPI
The male calf has been named Ben. Its markings are the result of
genetic manipulations.The farmer, Chris Jessen, specialises in raising
miniature cattle, and he also has several other miniature animals on his
farm including a miniature kangaroo, more commonly referred to as a
Jessen says the miniature animals are typically sold as pets since
they do not have much practical use other than being cute and cuddly.
A panda cow can fetch around $30,000, though at this time he does not
anticipate there is much of a market for the cow. The current market is
fine by him, though he does not plan on selling it right away.