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Sunday December 3rd, 2023

Sri Lanka to implement ‘English for All’ initiative by 2030: president

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka aims to enhance proficiency in English at the school and university levels through an ‘English for All’ initiative by 2030, with plans also underway for improving literacy in other global languages, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

Speaking at the 10th commemoration of R I T Alles, educationist and founder of D S Senanayake Vidyalaya, President Wickremesinghe said every parent aspires to provide quality education to their children.

“This education should extend beyond Sinhala and Tamil, encompassing languages like English, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Korean. We are focusing on implementing the “English for All” program by 2030, with an emphasis on imparting English knowledge to both school and university students,” he said.

Wickremesinghe said many Sri Lankans pursue education abroad, which he said underscores the need to pay closer attention to the island nation’s higher education system, despite the existence of a “supposedly free education system”.

“We aim to adopt successful education systems from around the world,” he said.

UNESCO has estimated that approximately 10,500 students are currently studying in Australia as of August 2023. In order to combat the outflow of foreign reserves, in October 2023, Sri Lanka’s University of Colombo started offering medical degrees for foreign students for a payment of 62,500 dollars. Minister for Higher Education Suren Raghavan has confirmed that the government plans to increase the number of foreign students from 165 to 500.

Contrary to the misconception that free education means providing money for universities, said Wickremesnghe, in other countries, students receive concessional loans and financial aid to choose their preferred universities.

“In our country, the University Grants Commission makes the selection. But we must ensure opportunities for students without compromising on the quality of higher education,” he said.

The president called for an end to students’ losing opportunities for higher education due to financial constraints.

He also called for an end to the practice of selling property to send children abroad, according to a statement from the president’s office.

“To alleviate the financial burden on students, we offer concessional loans, eliminating the need to sell land or send children abroad for higher education. The growing number of universities in our country is attracting students from foreign countries,” he said.

Sri Lanka plans to establish new universities in both the public and private sectors to ensure access to higher education for all students in Sri Lanka, said Wickremesinghe, noting that government support will be made available to those in the private sector contributing to this initiative.

“Our goal is to increase the number of universities and elevate the standards of existing ones within the next five years. Additionally, we plan to establish three technology universities similar to General Sir John Kotelawala University. We encourage the establishment of non-government universities and invite individuals like Dr Harsha Alles to leverage their experience in starting new universities,” he said.

Wickremesinghe also invited the global Sinhala and Tamil diasporas to return to Sri Lanka and participate in establishing new universities.

“To the Tamil and Sinhala Diasporas, we extend an invitation to return to Sri Lanka and participate in establishing new universities, as a means of supporting education for the country’s children, emphasising a shared responsibility for the nation’s progress. Mr Alles has set an example in this regard,” he said. (Colombo/Nov17/2023)

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Sri Lanka UGC wants to boost number of IT-related degrees

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s University Grants Commission is of the view to boost the number of Information Technology (IT) related degrees in state universities with an aim to pave the way for a digital economy.

Sri Lanka’shigher education system has been producing more graduates in Arts stream while the degrees in highly demanded IT and other engineering services are being looked at only now.

“We do have a high demand for engineering, science, AI, computer and electronical engineering

studies,” Chairman of University Grants Commission, Sampath Amaratunga, told reporters at aa media briefing on Friday

“However, while avoiding neglecting the humanities, we should develop new IT skills.”

Amaratunga confirmed that a student who studied in any stream could obtain an IT degree, including students who studied in the arts stream.

The UGC data show that out of 18,490 engineering technology stream students who sat for their Advanced Levels (A/L) in 2022, 10634 were eligible for university.

“Even streams like agriculture should be encouraged to use technology,” Amaratunga said. (Colombo/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka leader inaugurates Climate Justice Forum at COP28 in Dubai

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe launched Climate Justice Forum (CJF) at the ongoing 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai in a move to gather support for vulnerable nations hit by climate-change led disasters.

This year’s climate summit held in Dubai’s EXPO2020 features a raft of issues for countries working to find common ground in tackling climate change, including whether to phase out fossil fuels and how to finance the energy transition in developing countries.

Wickremesinghe inaugurated the Climate Justice Forum at COP28 on Saturday and emphasized the critical importance of addressing climate issues with a sense of justice and equity.

The President had been in talks with many nations vulnerable to climate change disasters including African and South American countries to get their support for the CJF.

The move is to compel advanced and developed countries to look into the poor nations hit by the climate changes and help them to get over economic and debt burdens by either investing more in green energy initiatives or writing off debts to ease financial pressure.

Sri Lanka, which is now facing an unprecedented economic crisis, has seen increasing losses and damages, both human lives and physical properties due to climate change-led disasters like floods, drought, and earth slips.

In his speech at the COP28 forum, Wickremesinghe on Friday said the Climate Justice Forum will provide a platform for constructive and proactive engagements. (Dubai/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka IMF review goes to executive board on December 12

ECONOMYNEXT – The first review of Sri Lanka’s International Monetary Fund program is scheduled to go the lender’s Executive Board for consideration on December 12.

Sri Lanka officials were expecting the review to be completed in December as soon as official creditors gave their assurances.

According to the notice Sri Lanka had missed one performance criterion and has requested modifications.

Sri Lanka has outperformed on a number of quantity targets including inflation. In addition to quantity PCs there was also one non-accumulation of arrears.

There would also be re-phasing of access. The review was originally expected around September with another review based on December data, leading to September and March disbursements.

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