- Private sector, State Universities and other Higher Education Institutions should work together …
- IT and computer knowledge for all students, regardless of field of study….
- Universities should compete to attract high achievers….
- Freedom for Universities to plan their studies and manage….
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reiterated that Sri Lanka must keep pace with transformative changes taking place globally.
“We cannot afford to lag behind. Our higher education system must adapt swiftly. It has to offer our students an education that will remain relevant despite fast changing circumstances and help them find gainful employment in future. Unfortunately, this is an area in which our universities and other higher education institutions need considerable improvement” the President said.
The President made these remarks presiding over the final session of the 31st General Convocation of the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University held at the BMICH, today (16).
Degrees were awarded to 1379 graduants covering the fields of Defence Studies, Management, Business Management, Law, Medicine, Engineering, Promotional Management, Industrial Science and Sociology. Among them were five doctoral students, 263 postgraduate and postgraduate diploma holders. The number of First Degree holders was 1111.
President Rajapaksa presented special awards to Second Lieutenant R.M.T.E.P. Rathnayake as the Best Army Officer , Lieutenant V.S. Palihawadana as the Best Naval Officer, Flying Officer R.G.S.D. Gamage as the Best Air Force Officer and Second Lieutenant R.M.T.G.P. Ratnayake as the Superior Officer.
The General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University was established in 1981 to meet the educational needs of the officers of the three Armed Forces. It was elevated into a fully-fledged University in 2009 by then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. In 2009, civilian students were granted the opportunity to study there. At present, members of the three Armed Forces and local and foreign students can pursue doctoral, postgraduate and postgraduate diploma courses at the University.
The President commended General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University for becoming a fully-fledged University within a short span of time. The President further stated that the University’s expansion was a great success due to its ability to produce outstanding graduates in fields as diverse as Medicine, Engineering and Law. The private sector should have more opportunities to work with public universities and other institutions of higher education in finding solutions to current problems. ‘At minimum, all graduates from our university system need to have some knowledge about new technologies and at least a functional familiarity with computers if they are to have a chance to build successful futures for themselves’ the President said. The President urged the Vice Chancellors of all universities to introduce information technology and computer science to all students, regardless of the field of study.
‘Irrespective of their chosen field of study, all students selected for university education are intelligent. Any lack of exposure they have to these subjects when they enter university is due to a failure in the education system rather than due to their own weaknesses’ the President said.
‘Enhancing focus on research and development will also have a beneficial impact on the rankings of Sri Lankan universities internationally. Improving these rankings is important if we are to attract more foreign students as well as attract and retain talented faculty members at our universities’, the President added.
The governing body, Vice Chancellor, Faculties and staff of each university should have more freedom to determine, design, manage, and deliver their programmes of study. They should also be able to select the students they feel are best suited to learn at their institutions. Talented students, too, should have more freedom to choose their universities. These changes will increase the competition that exists amongst the universities at every level, leading to significant overall improvements across the entire higher education system. Through this, it is also likely that the rankings of our national universities will improve, President Rajapaksa further said.
Members of the Parliament, Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Major General (retired) Kamal Gunaratne, Secretaries to Ministries, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal S.K. Pathirana, IGP C.D. Wickramaratne, Chancellor of the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, General Gerard de Silva, Vice Chancellor Major General Milinda Pieris, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and academic and non-academic staff of Kotelawala Defence University and others participated on this occasion.