MOOCs and the developing world

Published : 12:01 am  December 24, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte  |  1 Comment  |  1,051 views  |  
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The potential for a revolution in university education Analysts have pointed out that in the way that some countries bypassed land telephone lines in their bid to enhance telecommunication facilities and went on straight to mobile connectivity, the opportunity offered by Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) at the tertiary level would give an opportunity for countries to bypass brick and mortar universities and go straight onto online courses at the tertiary level. It was in 2011 that Stanford University in California, USA, launched its first MOOC. Since then these internet-enabled tertiary education programs have really taken off, engaging millions of users. The large MOOOC providers such as... 


Oh Madiba, we need you here – now!

Published : 12:00 am  December 18, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,296 views  |  
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The King-Emperor of Reconciliation The year was 1995. The date was 24 June. It was the Rugby World Cup final at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, South Africa, between two southern hemispheric rugby power houses: The All Blacks of New Zealand and the Springboks of South Africa. This was the ‘new’ South Africa, christened the Rainbow Nation by Arch Bishop Tutu. The nation that had emerged out of the horrors of white Afrikaner dominated apartheid. Rugby, even then in South Africa, still was the white Afrikaner man’s sport. South Africa had been readmitted to the International Rugby Board in 1992, after the end of apartheid, after being expelled for discrimination against people of colour, i.e.... 


Corporate philanthropy

Published : 12:00 am  December 10, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  949 views  |  

 Applying business acumen to CSR The impact of corporate philanthropy is usually measured by a head count of the number of persons who are assisted by a particular social or financial development intervention of a charitable nature by a business enterprise. It is usually defined in contrast to various shared or blended value approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in which corporates seek to do well by doing good. However, a different approach is being promoted by the Committee for Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), currently chaired by Doug Conant, one time longstanding (for over a decade) CEO of the Campbell Soup Company. CECP had advanced the view that corporate philanthropy... 


‘People living in stone houses should not throw glasses’

Published : 12:04 am  December 3, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,153 views  |  
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Loka saama nayikawa, apey mara doothikawa (Leader of world peace/our devilish messenger) The sub title appeared on the wall of the Colombo University in 1976 shortly after the Non-Aligned Summit was held in Colombo, at which Sri Lanka’s Prime Minster was elected Head of the Non Aligned Movement. In the 1977 election, the government was routed and the Prime Minister deprived of civic rights. The current Chairman of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, allegedly in responding to British Prime Minister Cameron’s call for an international inquiry into war crimes, if Sri Lanka does not hold a credible inquiry before March 2104, commented: “People who live in glass houses should not throw... 


Colombo’s new casinos: A high risk venture?

Published : 12:01 am  November 26, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  2,105 views  |  
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At the recent Commonwealth Business Forum in Colombo, the Australian tycoon who is the key investor in the much-touted ‘Iconic integrated resort’ with a casino which is to be built in Colombo was a star performer. A local newspaper quoted him as saying, “Nothing will stop Sri Lanka from becoming a top end gambling Mecca.” A profound prediction for this thrice-blessed Dhamma Dweepa! It is difficult to access any definite information on the current status or dimensions of his proposal, especially in the context of existing law – the Casino Business Regulation Act No. 17 of 2010, which inter alia requires that the minister issues a license to a casino and that the minister specifies a... 


Princelings and nepotism

Published : 12:01 am  November 19, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  1,358 views  |  
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An alternative path to development? In the context of the recently-concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, for which delegates from Britain and her former British colonies were in town, it is a good time as any to look at important issues on succession to power and the route to economic development. Princeling is a word which emerged out of China, the Middle Kingdom. During the time of the Emperor, senior courtiers close to the Forbidden City’s Palace often lobbied directly with the Emperor, the Empress, senior concubines and eunuchs for their relatives to be appointed to high positions in the Imperial Bureaucracy. This was to consolidate their power and influence. It... 


Finland-isation and Bhutan-isation

Published : 12:01 am  November 12, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  1,250 views  |  
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Good fences make good neighbours – Robert Frost Robert Frost, American poet, four times Pulitzer Prize and Congressional Gold Medal winner, in ‘Mending Wall,’ a poem published in 1914, used this line, which according to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations originates in the 17th century. Frost could not see the need for a fence between his farm in New England and his neighbour’s land. But his taciturn neighbour insisted on a wall and only said, “Good fences make good neighbours,” in response to Frost’s query on the need! In the context of CHOGM going on in Colombo, it is useful to contextualise this concept in international relations. In most situations, e.g. where you live or... 


The gender gap narrows

Published : 12:01 am  November 5, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  917 views  |  
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Yet, there are issues to be addressed The World Economic Forum (WEF), which organises the iconic Economic Summit at Davos, Switzerland, annually and other regional economic summits worldwide, has recently published the 2012 Gender Gap Report, for the eighth consecutive year. The report indicates that in most countries the gender gap decreased slightly in 2012. In the three sectors of Political Participation, Education and Health and Economic Equality, the Nordic countries of Iceland, Finland and Norway come out tops out of 136 nations included in the survey. These countries had closed over 80% of the gender gap, with 100% representing full equality. Yemen was at the bottom of the list, while... 


Is the future with solar power?

Published : 12:26 am  October 29, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,291 views  |  
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With alternative energy sources improving their economic performance virtually by the day, combined with the USA accessing more and more domestic sources of crude oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing technology, the state of play in the power sector has undergone a revolutionary change. South Asia’s power producers are faced with mammoth problems with galloping consumption of electricity. Conventional energy generation is in a mess in most South Asian countries, except Bhutan and Nepal, which have vast untapped hydro resources and low demand/consumption. Importing coal, gas or oil is expensive; even in countries like India, which has coal resources, the State coal monopoly is unable to... 


An ageing population

Published : 12:14 am  October 22, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  5,211 views  |  
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Is migration a solution?Population ageing occurs when the median age of a nation rises due to rising life expectancy, people living longer and/or combined with a fall of the birth rate. In the developed world, an increase in life expectancy has in the past caused the median age to increase and the population to age rapidly. More recently, even in less developed countries, this has occurred, except for 18 nations declared to be ‘demographic outliers’ by the United Nations, those that do not fit into the world standard norm. The fact that the population is ageing is the reality in every other country in the world. In recorded human history, the world has never before experienced an aged population... 


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