Declaring open a new building at the Ocean University of Sri Lanka, Minister of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development, and Vocational Training and Kandyan HeritageDr. Sarath Amunugama said recently that, taking advantage of our location as an island nation surrounded by the ocean, having no conflict with any other country about ownership right down to the South Pole, unlike in some other regions of the world and located adjacent to the most frequented sea-route in the world, we should develop a ‘Blue’ economy.
The minister who identified the many economic activities associated with the sea, pointed out the many employment opportunities open to graduates of the Ocean University, including service in the merchant marine. The minister referred to the international practice of registering ships in foreign countries under ‘flags of convenience’, for several business advantages, and mentioned the possibility of negotiating for the permitting of such ship registration in Sri Lanka, on condition of the employment of a minimum number of trained Sri Lankan personnel on each such ship.
Referring broadly to the country’s prevailing education system, the minister said a radical change in the system is called for urgently. The minister pointed out that the traditional school and university education in the humanities is unable to produce the type of person required at the present day work place. He said that his Ministry has now taken up the task of creating an alternative system of education to produce the technically and vocationally qualified personnel required by the modern factory and the business place.
The minister said that he issued three directions as soon he assumed duties. The first was that the intake of students to all the training institutions under his ministry should be doubled. The second was that the curricula in these institutions should be upgraded to international standards. The third was that courses of training of minimal importance should be discarded for concentrating on courses with significant employment potential. He said that he has also directed that English and IT should be taught mandatorily to all trainees. Dr.Amunugama pointed out that the knowledge of an international language is essential at a modern work place. So was IT. Hitherto knowledge in these subjects was mostly confined to children of affluent families. However his desire is that all rural children and children from disadvantaged backgrounds acquire that knowledge, declared Dr. Amunugama.