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Will the current education system support ‘Vision 2020’?


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To discuss the future of the education system in Sri Lanka, a panel discussion titled ‘Vision 2020’ took place at the last session of the conference. Moderated by Executive Council Member Ruwan Gallage, the panellists included Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Solutions Program Director Srilal Miththapala, Candor Equity CEO/Director Ravi Abeysuriya, Cargills Agriculture and Commercial Bank CEO Harris Premaratne and Hayleys Business Solutions International Managing Director Dr. Arul Sivagananathan. At the discussion Abeysuriya asserted there is a huge gap in the talent required and supplied. He expressed if Sri Lanka is to proceed with the five hub concept, it is absolutely necessary to narrow the gap. “Do we have a road map or are we blindly doing this? I haven’t seen anything done so far. In terms of education, the primary requirement is a roadmap. Malaysia had one, and look at the outcome,” he said. While the question of privatisation still remains, Abeysuriya said instead of debating, which leads to no results, the country should move on. He highlighted the Sri Lankan Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) is a perfect example where a Public Private Partnership (PPP) has worked well and opined the model should be followed. The establishment of the PPP model led to the question of education being affordable. For this the panel agreed that a loan system, similar to what Australia has, should be formulated. Focusing on the financial service industry, a field where young graduates are noted to be showing keen interest, Premaratne said the input few years ago from the workforce was not focused. “We saw graduates of various disciplines entering the finance industry. It is a waste of resources. Because of the demand we saw more and more coming into the discipline. Now a vast pool is entering the industry,” he said. Premaratne stated that graduates preferred to enter the financial service industry since there were jobs available. Stressing that Sri Lanka has a long way to go to compete with the rest of Asia, he said: “From now onwards there needs to be a lot of improvement if Sri Lanka wants to become noticeable.”

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