BCS President and Group CEO visit Sri Lanka

Monday, 24 October 2016 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


British Computer Society (BCS) - The Chartered Institute for IT President Ray Long and Group CEO Paul Fletcher were recently in Colombo to attend the institution’s graduation ceremony. 

They took some time to talk to the media during their stay. They spoke about both their programs and the community work they do.

British Computer Society (BCS) - The Chartered Institute for IT is the leading professional and educational society in the field of computers and information systems. It has members in over 100 countries and is the industry body for IT professionals and is a Chartered Engineering Institution for Information Technology (IT). BCS Sri Lanka was established in 1996. 

BCS was established as an independent organisation under the Royal Charter 60 years ago and thus is not managed by shareholders. It is the largest educational office in the UK and maintains high standards in its certifications and programs to stay relevant and up-to-date. 

BCS is a non-profit endeavour, working to help communities. BCS Certifications are available in about 150 different countries and there are about 72,000 members. The certifications offered are carried out by the commercial arm but all the money received is then channelled into the community work done by BCS. 

Long and Fletcher mentioned that due to these high standards, large corporate organisations such as Google give BCS grants and concessions in their work. 

According to the visiting officials, Sri Lanka is one of the most successful sections for BCS and is the single largest country in terms of membership. BCS also provides a mentoring system in Sri Lanka where professionals help those still studying. Participation by members is a vital aspect for BCS, not merely the programs offered. 

Speaking about the programs and work they do, the officials explained that BCS offers both technology training and IT project management (techniques to manage projects in both Government and private interest areas). There is also some emphasis on developing soft skills in students, to help them make projects successful. BCS has a very active regional branch in Sri Lanka, with a total of about 6,000 members in the country. It is committed to increasing training and development provided to the country.

Talking about IT in the UK and Sri Lanka, they highlighted that Sri Lanka has seen more women in the IT field when compared to the UK because in Britain only about 16%-17% of women work in the IT field but in Sri Lanka this percentage is about 20%-30%. 

This problem can be traced back to school education. Britain has a problem getting women into technological positions. However, BCS is currently involved in measures to bring more women into the technology field through endeavours such as teaching girls coding in school. In addition, children aged five to 16 are being taught algorithms and small programs to get them started in computational thinking. What is needed is not only education but also infrastructure to boost participation in technological fields from the population, they said. 

The advent and importance of data was also discussed by those present. The officials spoke about the IBM supercomputer Watson that will allow a patient to input his symptoms and receive an accurate diagnosis from it, thus removing the need for a visit to the physician. This will shift the focus from the patient having to seek out the doctor to the doctor approaching the patient for reports and tests based on the results on their wearable technology. 

Also, given children’s interest in mobile phones and other social technology, BCS faces opportunities and risks. In Sri Lanka as in the UK, there are problems in discipline online. There is much more to be done. The problem is that the children have more of an affinity to technology than their teachers do so the teachers feel they cannot discipline the children. The teachers’ confidence should be improved with greater access to technology so that they can take on the task of disciplining them. BCS also has ongoing dialogue with children’s parents. 

The officials from the BCS will meet the Minister for Technology and ICT during their visit to the country, and are expected to speak to the Minister about ways to enhance business. They will also speak to other influential people in the field of business on the same matter. The officials commended the Wi-Fi access available in the city and in hotels, emphasising how good the infrastructure was in the country. However, it was important to provide such broadband access to the rural areas too, to develop the capacity in those areas, they said. 

Long and Fletcher added that BCS focuses more on technical knowledge and less on language capabilities, saying that their papers were set in easy-to-understand English, which will allow even those who struggle with the language to understand and answer questions easily. This will help students pass exams based on their knowledge of the subject and not their language.