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Tuesday February 27th, 2024

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka opens education sector with reforms aiming at investments, opportunities

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)

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  1. Sanath Gunawardena says:

    Good move

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  1. Sanath Gunawardena says:

    Good move

Sri Lanka sets up fund to help children of Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is mandated to provide education, health, relief and social services, and emergency assistance to refugees. (Pic courtesy UNWRA)

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers have approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to set up a fund to help children caught in the war in Gaza, a statement said.

The government will contribute a million US dollars and use funds allocated by state agencies for Ifthar celebrations.

Public contributions are also called.

The Presidential Secretariat is requesting public donations citizens for the “Children of Gaza Fund” to be contributed to account number 7040016 at Bank of Ceylon (7010), Taprobane Branch (747) by 11th April.

Deposit receipts should to be forwarded to 0779730396 via WhatsApp. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

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Top US official calls for inclusive reforms, deeper defence ties with Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — United States Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard Verma in discussions with Sri Lanka officials had called for inclusive reforms and stronger human rights and also discussed deeper defence and maritime cooperation.

The United States remains committed to the economic growth and prosperity of Sri Lanka, statement from the US Embassy in Colombo quoted the official as telling government, civil society and economic leaders during his February 23-24 visit to Sri Lanka.

“Verma met with President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry to discuss progress on Sri Lanka’s IMF program, including inclusive economic and governance reforms aimed at keeping Sri Lanka on the path to sustainable economic growth.  Deputy Secretary Verma stressed the vital need to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression. They also explored opportunities to deepen defence and maritime cooperation between the United States and Sri Lanka, including strengthening the Sri Lanka Navy’s capabilities to safeguard national security and promote a more stable Indo-Pacific region,” the statement said.

 On February 23, aboard the SLNS Vijayabahu, one of three former U.S. Coast Guard cutters transferred by the United States to Sri Lanka, Deputy Secretary Verma said: “I am pleased to announce that the Department of State has notified Congress of our intent to transfer a fourth medium endurance cutter to Sri Lanka.  The Department obligated $9 million in Foreign Military Financing to support this effort.  We look forward to offering the cutter, pending the completion of Congress’ notification period.  If completed, this transfer would further strengthen defense cooperation between the United States and Sri Lanka.  The ship would increase Sri Lanka’s ability to patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone, monitor its search and rescue area, and provide additional security for ships from all nations that transit the busy sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.” 

 Participating in the announcement at Colombo Port were Sri Lanka State Minister of Defense Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, who remarked, according to the statement: “The United States has previously transferred three cutters to the Sri Lankan Navy, which deploys these ships for maritime operations and law enforcement missions, countering human trafficking and drug trafficking, while supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts. The eventual transfer of a fourth vessel would be just one more point in a long history of cooperation between Sri Lanka and the United States in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.” 

Verma also visited the site of the West Container Terminal (WCT), a deepwater shipping container terminal in the Port of Colombo. The WCT, currently being constructed by Colombo West International Terminal (CWIT) Private Limited with 553 million US dollars in financing from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, will provide critical infrastructure for the South Asian region, the embassy said.

“Operating near capacity since 2021, the Port of Colombo’s new addition will be the port’s deepest terminal and aims to boost Colombo’s shipping capacity, expanding its role as a premiere logistics hub connecting major routes and markets, boosting prosperity for Sri Lanka without adding to its sovereign debt,” it said. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

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Sri Lanka police chief appointment against constitution: Opposition Leader

Samagi Jana Balavegaya leader Sajith Premadasa addresses the rally

ECONOMYNEXT – The appointment of Sri Lanka’s new police chief Deshbandu Tennakoon is against the constitution as the decision lacked required votes at the Constitutional Council, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday (26) appointed Deshbandu Tennakoon as the 36th Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the country after the Constitutional Council (CC) cleared the official who along with three other police officers were asked by the Supreme Court to compensate 2 million rupees in a fundamental rights case last year.

“CC didn’t approve IGP’s appointment. Votes: 4 for; 2 against; 2 abstentions. At least 5 votes are required for a decision,” Premadasa said in his X (Twitter) platform.

“Speaker has a casting vote only in case of a tie. 4/2 is not a tie! Constitution is being blatantly violated for the second time. Shame on you speaker!”

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena was not reachable for a comment on the Opposition Leader’s claim.

The President Media Division (PMD) said the President appointed Tennakoon “as the IGP in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”.

The island nation’s Supreme Court on December 14 ordered Tennakoon when he was the Acting IGP and three other officials to pay a compensation of 500,000 rupees each for the violation of the fundamental rights of an individual.

The Supreme Court also instructed the Police Commission to take disciplinary action against the said Police officers including Tennakoon after it considered the petition filed by W. Ranjith Sumangala who had accused the Police officers of violating his fundamental rights during his detention at Mirihana Police Station in 2011.

The Supreme Court held that the four police officers violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner by his illegal arrest, detention and subjection to torture at the Mirihana Police Station, which was under the supervision of Tennakoon at the time of the arrest. (Colombo/Feb 27/2024)

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