ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in the process of opening up its education sector with crucial reforms to change its state-sector led universities to private sector-led investments to ensure professionalism and increase employability, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.
Rajapakshe, who has come up with a report after consulting all stake holders, said the reforms are must to change the country’s education system.
“We propose to formulate a state policy which will be approved by the parliament and that policy will be changed with the change of government or ministers,” Rajapakshe told reporters in Colombo on Tuesday.
The plan is to abolish the current University Grant Commission and to establish a new Higher Education Commission which will monitor and regulate state universities, private universities, professional education entities, and quality assurances. A separate accreditation unit is expected to be established under the same Commission, the minister said.
The move will help to establish more private universities in the country and create more opportunities for the students who are not selected to state universities.
The island nation has faced with strong resistance for private universities in the country as leftist politicians and Marxists have protested in street against the move citing that the move will compromise the quality of the outputs.
But that has led to thousands of students leaving the country for foreign universities for higher education. The move also has resulted in outflow of foreign exchange.
“We can stop the foreign exchange outflow. We can provide a higher quality education. Internationally well-accepted universities are ready come here. But we have not created an enabling environment for that,” Rajapakshe said.
“We have discussed this with the BOI (Board of Investment) as well. The BOI has agreed to provide us University village infrastructure.”
“Last two to three decades, all were talking, and nothing has been happening. Now we are determined to do it. Otherwise, we can’t expect educated younger generation in the future.”
“Under any circumstances, no government can give higher education to all the students who are qualified to continue with the higher education. Out of around 190,000, the government can cater only for 45,000 students.”
Rajapakshe was critical of past demands by socialists and leftists for state-led higher education.
“What socialism, what Marxism? That’s nonsense. In all those (socialist) countries, the private education has been promoted,” he said.
“What they say is you must only concentrate on state universities. Don’t open this (sector) and give all the resources to us and don’t give anything to other 120,000 students. They are trying to have a monopoly. It is a crime.”
The minister said the report will be discussed and debated in the parliament while the public also will be consulted before the policy becomes a law. (Colombo/September 13/2023)