ADB, SL Uni’s ink deal of USD145Mn for science and tech higher education

Feb 14, 2019 (LBO) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and four Sri Lankan universities signed project agreements totaling US 145 million dollars under the ADB funded Science and Technology Human Resources Development project to foster science and technology in Sri Lanka’s higher education.

“To achieve higher incomes and better standards of living, the Sri Lankan government aims to transform the country to a knowledge-based economy by 2025, with education playing a key role,” said Ms. Sri Widowati, ADB Country Director in Sri Lanka.

“To this end, the project will help nurture a new breed of technology-oriented graduates equipped with skills and entrepreneurial spirit for the economy.”

Widowati signed the project agreements on behalf of ADB while Vice Chancellors Prof. Sampath Amaratunge, Prof. D.M. Semasinghe, Dr. B.A. Karunarathna, and Prof. M. Sunil Shantha signed for the University of Sri Jayawardenapura, University of Kelaniya, Rajarata University and Sabaragamuwa University, respectively.

Sri Lanka’s education system is facing several challenges in delivering quality learning relevant to the labor market, particularly in science, technology, and engineering subjects.

Higher education opportunities as a whole are limited, with the gross enrollment rate at less than 19 percent much less than the 50 percent average for upper middle-income countries.

Moreover, less than 20 percent of graduates are from science and engineering subjects.

Although more than 60 percent of undergraduates in Sri Lanka are female students, they overwhelmingly (about 82 percent) concentrate on liberal arts and social studies where unemployment is highest.

Encouraging more women to take technology disciplines will increase women’s career opportunities in technical areas where wages are high.

A lack of investment, laboratory facilities, researchers, and qualified academic staff are holding back the quality of teaching, learning, and research.

Existing degree programs in scientific or engineering areas are more theory-oriented and lack practical applications of knowledge and skills.

The project will construct faculty buildings following green building standards, ensuring they are climate proofed, well equipped with laboratories, and offer flexible spaces for different kinds of research and learning as well as facilities that help integrate female students and staff, such as day care centers.