Considering huge challenges of responding to poverty, unemployment, and skills development needs of the Asia-Pacific region, the Colombo Plan Staff College for Technician Education (CPSC), in collaboration with the Department of Technical Education and Training (DTET) and the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training (MVTT) of Sri Lanka, organized a one week in-country program on Champion Leaders’ Development Program for TVET Skills for Poverty Alleviation in Sri Lanka. The in-country program was conducted in facilitation of the CPSC-India Skills Development for Poverty Alleviation project (SDPA Project) held from 28 March -2 April 2011 at the University of Vocational Technology, Ratmalana, Sri Lanka.
The SDPA Project, under a broader initiative on Asia-Pacific Capacity Building Project for Technical Human Resources Development for Poverty Alleviation, was designed to highlight the essential role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in stirring poverty alleviation ventures in the region.
Eyeing to be champion leaders of TVET, twenty nine (29) Sri Lankan participants actively participated in the program to strengthen and enhance their capacities in designing and implementing skills development plan and programs for poverty eradication in their country.
The inaugural ceremony was graced by the MVTT Additional Secretary Mr. Upul Samarasekara, together with the DTET Director General Dr. H. Chithral Ambawatte. They both emphasized the importance of the SDPA Project and its timeliness in the persisting economic condition in Sri Lanka where nearly 30 percent of the population still lives in poverty. Dr. Ambawatte underscored the emerging challenges in the country and encouraged participants to share workable ideas on how to overcome such challenges and be able to eliminate poverty concerns. He further motivated them to utilize the program as a basis for making significant policies and decisions to strengthen TVET programs and systems in Sri Lanka to address poverty issues in the country. The opening day was also attended by the Directors of various divisions of DTET and other senior education officials.
CPSC Faculty Consultant, Prof. Rajesh P. Khambayat, Ph.D., opened the program highlighting the role of the TVET skills development project in improving access to quality and demand responsive modular employable skills training programs. He further expounded on the CPSC-India flagship project and its components and shared insights on recent activities and initiatives of CPSC to promote TVET skills for poverty alleviation.
Three modules which focused on three major topics such as: TVET Skills for Poverty Alleviation, Generic Skills for Employability and Social Entrepreneurship were presented by Prof. Khambayat. A series of tasks, group works and cyber lectures were facilitated to further explore and inculcate the relevance of skills development in forwarding measures to address poverty. As a final output, the participants formulated inclusive action plans to execute modular employable skills programs in line with the advocacy to arrest poverty through TVET approaches.
A half-day National Seminar on Building Skills for Employability: Trends and Perspectives was also conducted within the program duration. Prof. Shyamal Majumdar, Ph.D., CPSC Director General, provided the keynote presentation where he emphasized that specific concerns regarding SDPA need to be addressed through revising the existing curriculum, shortening the duration of existing programs, amending certification process and extending active support for the champion leaders. He further highlighted the importance of creating avenues for further collaboration in maintaining the success of the project’s implementation. Prof. Majumdar expressed his high appreciation to the Government of Sri Lanka through MVTT for their strong collaborative efforts in organizing such program and for providing full support to CPSC’s initiatives on skills development in TVET for poverty alleviation. He further stressed that TVET policies and reforms must be fully geared towards building capacity of champion leaders in the realization of the benefits and sustainability of development programs and strategies designed to respond to poverty prevalence.
The seminar was inaugurated in an impressive ceremony by Dr. Bikash Sinha, former Director of the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) and Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) and Mr. S. S. Hewapathirana, Secretary, Youth Affairs and Skills Development Ministry. In his inaugural remarks, Dr. Sinha expressed his high appreciation to CPSC’s innovative approach and skills development advocacy in dealing poverty concerns in Sri Lanka.
Around 200 representatives from various international organizations, TVET experts, directors and principals of TVET institutions, NGOs, private organizations and industry representatives working in the field of skills development for employment attended the seminar. Secretary-General, Dato’ Patricia Yoon-Moi Chia of the Colombo Plan Secretariat also graced the event.
Prof. Khambayat acted as Course Coordinator and Chief Resource Person for the program. Prof. Karunathilaka, Director of the Research and Develeopment of DTET acted as the Local Coordinator. The program was highly appreciated by the participants earning very impressive program feedback and rating.