6. Knowledge Nation
We consider education is an investment for the future and access should be provided to all Sri Lankans not just the privileged few. Social and political agreement on the value of education will provide stability on the structure and key features of the Sri Lankan education system.
Governance of the education system needs to be shared between national and provincial authorities. The national government should define and set educational priorities, while PCs maintain and support schools and day-care centres and have significant responsibility for organising education, funding and curriculum and for hiring personnel.
The Tertiary education sector consisting of universities and technical schools should be the responsibility of the National Government.
Teaching should be made a valued profession in society. Teachers need to be trusted professionals with a master’s degree in education which will include research and practice-based studies.
We will provide a referral to the Education Investigatory Committee to investigate primary and secondary education curricula. The government will act upon the Committee’s recommendations.
A National Education and Research Development Plan adopted by the Parliament needs to outline education policy priorities every four years.
Much greater attention needs to be paid to the primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions, with the help and trust in the proficiency of the academics, principals, teachers and other educational staff.
Receiving primary education will be made mandatory for every child.
Ten years of comprehensive basic education (from the age of five to fifteen) will be made compulsory, with a focus on equity and on preventing low achievement. Our education policy will offer flexibility at the upper secondary level between general and vocational education and training options that lead to a tertiary education.
As private institutions for tertiary education have become a part and parcel of the Sri Lankan educational system, it will be important to standardise both entry level requirements and final assessment level processes of all public and private tertiary educational institutions.
We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), where technology and industry undergo rapid change. Yet, our education and training systems are not geared to develop skill sets, particularly in information based and technological environments, that will satisfy the market demands that would be called for. To make a workforce Industry 4.0-ready they need strong Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills. Therefore, we need to develop STEM capabilities the future needs by aligning educational curricula with industry relevant skills.
We will establish a STEM Education Review Committee (STEMERC) to carry out a comprehensive review of STEM education which will make a set of recommendations that would address identifiable deficits in the primary, secondary and tertiary education, and lift the quality of the STEM education system to the highest standards. The STEMERC committee through public consultations will draw upon the expertise of specialists in their respective fields, including the broader community. From a forward-thinking perspective, it is important building awareness, both in industry and among training and education providers, of the potential for Industry 4.0 technologies and service-based approaches to transform the industrial base.
Fourth Industrial Revolution (also called Industry 4.0) is the current digital revolution happening all around the world. This is very different to Information Communication Technologies (ICT) of the Third Industrial Revolution (Industry 3.0), which has been happening from 1970s with the invention of Microchip, PLC, Personal Computer, Internet, Mobile phone and recently social media. We believe that Industry, 4.0 if managed effectively, has the potential for country like Sri Lanka to “leapfrog” development challenges without following the conventional development strategies. Industry 4.0 will bring the benefits of improved productivity, improved manufacturing capabilities, international competitiveness while being a small player, distributed local production, better working conditions and sustainability and many more. At the same time, Industry 4.0 may expose us to new challenges and risks such as need to change the current economic settings, increased data security challenges, possible loss of conventional jobs, skill gaps, lack of institutional set-ups and poor digital infrastructure facilities and potential “social backlash” etc.
We therefore believe that Sri Lanka should adopt Industry 4.0 in a proactive way. We will formulate a national strategy for adopting industry 4.0 in Sri Lanka by studying the best practices of pioneering countries such as the USA, the UK, Japan China, India, Korea and countries in the European Union etc. We will engage multi-stake holders including private sector, academia and research institutions, communities, civil society and other partners in the policy making in developing an eco-system for Industry 4.0. Along with our social market economic thinking, we will encourage Open Development Initiatives and innovate new social-business models while investing in skill development and change management. Innovative collaborative mechanisms among all parties and international partnership building will be key components of our Industry 4.0 national strategy. The findings of the study will be considered within our overarching framework of providing primacy to the shared values for the whole of society as against profit maximisation for the few.