Public spending on education in SL declining but non-state actor participation in sector up: IPS
By Lynn Ockersz
‘Despite Sri Lanka’s free education policy and expansion of state activities in education, public spending on education has historically declined. Government expenditure on education is low compared to Nepal, India and Malaysia, for example, although research indications are that non-state actor participation in the sector is growing, Director of Research at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka Dr. Nisha Arunatilaka said.
‘Encouraging non-state sector participation in education services and expanding on successful collaborative initiatives between the state and non-state sectors to improve services, efficiency and quality, though under regulation and with attention to ensuring equity, are some measures that could be taken to address the challenges faced by Sri Lanka’s non-state education sector, Dr. Arunatilaka added. She was addressing an IPS and UNESCO-initiated panel discussion titled, ‘Non-State Actors in Sri Lanka’s Education Sector’, on January 24, at the IPS’s Dr. Saman Kelegama auditorium, to mark International Day of Education.
The event was aimed at raising public awareness on the findings of the ‘Global Education Monitoring Report 2022 South Asia’, which draws on the global comparative research by the ‘Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report at UNESCO’. The IPS is one of six regional partners who contributed to the report on the basis of Sri Lanka’s experiences in the relevant areas of interest, IPS sources said.
Earlier, addressing the audience online, Senior Project Officer (Research), Global Education Monitoring Report, UNESCO, Dr. Priyadarshani Joshi said: ‘The 2022 GEM Report demonstrates inadequate public provision in South Asia and discusses the different contributions to education made by the region’s diverse non-state providers. To strengthen South Asia’s education sector, we suggest bringing all actors under one umbrella to work towards achieving educational goals by creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment, built on standards, information, incentives and accountability.’
The IPS-UNESCO panel brought together some key figures in Sri Lanka’s educational sphere from the state and non-state sectors. Following their presentations a Q&A session with the audience followed.
Chairman, National Education Commission Professor Harishchandra Abeygunawardena said in his presentation and in response to issues raised by the audience: ‘There is certainly a role for non-state actors in Sri Lanka’s education sector. We need to improve non-state access to the lower levels of education and to the tertiary level of the structure. Currently, resource constraints face the government. Here’s where the private sector could come in and help meet this shortfall in resource-allocation. In these efforts we need to keep in mind the primary aims in education: Providing universal access to education, irrespective of creed, ethnicity, language and other differences and bringing out good citizens. The promotion of patriotism among students is important.
‘However, there is no accountability on the part of some private schools. Many private schools do not get registered with the authorities. The impression that one gets with regard to many institutions in this sector is that ‘education is up for sale’. The number of students “passing out” with “top degrees” is astounding. The quality of teaching and the educational qualifications of many teachers leave much to be desired.’
Chairman, Gateway Group, Dr. Harsha Alles said: ‘There is no support for the private sector in education. There are no loans for us free of charge but we have to pay all taxes without fail. Currently, there are 140,000 students in private schools. However, there are some 1,500 state schools with less than 50 students.
‘But private educational institutions could to do things differently. For example, through the use of modern technology in teaching. The public and private sectors have to work together. But the monitoring of private schools is important. The entirety of the latter institutions need to register with the authorities but this has not happened. We need to work out the cost per student. When this is done it will be found that the cost per private sector student is lower than that of his counterparts in the public sector.’
Senior Manager, Social Innovations, Dialog Axiata PLC, Asith de Silva stressed the need for up-skilling teachers. They need to acquire the ability to teach with the aid of modern technology. At present there is a lack of awareness among many teachers on the need for such abilities. They and the general public should be made aware of the importance of IT technology, if not such technology would be a like a new car that has been for bought for running but left completely unused. It is unfortunate that some school administrators and teachers have a misleading view on IT technology. Prejudices to the effect that the use of IT in teaching could lead to harmful consequences need to be dispelled.
Outlining some ways in which Dialog is helping in achieving educational goals, De Silva said that under its ‘Nenasa’ program eight channels are dedicated to teaching students from Years 1 to 13. There are four such dedicated channels in Tamil.
Former Additional Secretary (Policy, Planning and Review), Ministry of Education Dr. Madura M. Wehella focusing on existing gaps in educational regulations drew attention in particular to the 1961 Education Act which does not recognize non-state actors in local education. She said, among other things, that ‘state and non-state actors could collectively overcome regulatory constraints and strengthen the education system holistically’. For example, the two actors could collaborate in introducing innovations in the area of teacher training.
Dulux colours Architect 2023 exhibition with vibrant and engaging presence
Dulux -Sri Lanka’s, a leading manufacturer of paints and coatings – is celebrating the successful close of its participation at Architect 2023, also taking home an award for the ‘Best Trade Stall with Innovative Use of Colour’.
Organised by the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects -and now in its 41st year- this year’s edition of the Architect 2023 annual trade fair took place from February 24-26 at the BMICH, and witnessed greater participation from leading companies and entrepreneurs actively involved in the various construction and architecture sectors; both locally and internationally, a company news release said.
“Dulux established a strong presence at the event with a spectacular exhibit themed Colour Futures ’23, featuring its 2023 Colour of the Year: Wild Wonder. Visitors to the stand were able to explore the four colour palettes, Lush, Buzz, Raw and Flow, inspired by the nature-influenced theme, with Dulux colour experts on hand providing unique trade insight, and also advising visitors on how best the shades can be implemented into their own work and living spaces,” it said.
“The popular mascot, “Dulux Dog” was also present to playfully engage with exhibition attendees and brighten up the vibrant Dulux stall even further. The Dulux exhibit proved widely popular among attendees to Architect 2023, due to its powerful display of colour in both interior & Exterior spaces. “
“Architect 2023 was a great opportunity for Dulux to learn from fellow trade professionals, and also to introduce visitors to the latest trends and insights from the global paints and coatings landscape,” said Upendra Gunawardhana, Head of Marketing at AkzoNobel Paints Sri Lanka. “We’ve maintained a strong long-standing relationship with the SLIA, and have every intention of being back again next year as well.”
ACCA reaffirms ComBank as Best among Sri Lankan banks for Sustainable Reporting
The Commercial Bank of Ceylon was declared the best among all Sri Lankan banks in sustainability reporting at the Sri Lanka Sustainability Reporting Awards for 2022 presented by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Sri Lanka.
As the winner in the ‘Banking’ category Commercial Bank was recognised for being one of the most transparent, accountable, and responsible entities in the country. The award was presented for the Bank’s 2021 Annual Report titled ‘Beyond a shape, beyond a colour’ which among other aspects, explores the Bank’s evolving operating context in which social and environmental concerns are brought to the centre of its corporate agenda.
Prepared in line with the International <IR> framework, this Annual Report also presents the Bank’s social and environmental impacts as per the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards: Core option. Additionally, it reports on the Bank’s contribution towards the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals.
The Report also features a dedicated section on ‘Business model for sustainable value creation’ and discloses information on loans screened through the Bank’s Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS), paper reduction and recycling initiatives, increased usage of renewable energy, and switching to energy-efficient appliances under the section on ‘Natural Capital.’ Indicators of value derived in this category include reduced energy consumption in gigajoules, number of facilities subjected to SEMS screening, number of new solar panel installation locations, number of internet banking and mobile banking users, and solar power generated as a percentage of energy consumption.
Commercial Bank’s high standards in comprehensive reporting area result of the Bank’s commitment to being a responsible financial entity and shaping its work ethics around sustainable business practices, the Bank said. Last year too, Commercial Bank topped the ACCA awards in the Banking category, in addition to winning the overall award for the Best Sustainability Report of 2020.
Notably, Commercial Bank’s 2021 Annual Report also won four awards including a Gold for ‘Interior Design,’ and a Bronze for ‘Interactive Annual Report’ at the 2022 edition of the MerComm ARC Awards which is the world’s largest annual report competition.
The Bank’s sustainability initiatives include lending to support sustainable and green operations, migrating customers to paperless banking, improving efficiency in the use of energy, water and other resources in its own operations and supporting community initiatives that help conserve habitats and the environment. Its support to a mangrove restoration project in Koggala and marine turtle conservation initiative in Panama are examples of its commitment to environmental conservation.
The Bank pioneered a mandatory social and environmental screening process for its project lending activities and was the first bank in Sri Lanka to venture into Green Financing. It also revolutionised digital banking by introducing features in its ‘Flash’ mobile application to measure and offset customer impact on the environment.
Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC prioritizes psychological wellbeing in view of Women’s Day
In view of the marking the International Women’s Day, Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC held an insightful event at their state-of-the-art factory premises in Kelaniya, highlighting the importance of psychological wellbeing and how Ex-Pack is taking up measures in ensuring an enabling environment for its 300 strong workforce, based on its wider DEI policies.
Various global studies have shown that women are impacted at much higher rates than men when it comes to mental illnesses. The session celebrated their achievements and life stories, and shared some eye-opening tips, facts, know how’s, to-dos, and various other influential factors including the dire need to change our perspectives on women’s roles, health and wellness. This also touched upon the emotional and social aspects of wellbeing too.
This year’s theme is centered on #EmbraceEquity, and Ex-Pack is no stranger when it comes to pursuing gender equality in an industry that has been traditionally dominated by male. As one of leading corrugated cartons manufacturer in Sri Lanka delivering end-to-end packaging solutions to both local and international clientele, and a subsidiary of Aberdeen Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, Ex-Pack actively encourages more female participation.
‘With this year’s theme being #EmbraceEquity, we take great pride in being an ambassador and role model in our industry. We go beyond just equal opportunities to pro-actively collaborate with everyone, to ensure that our talented women have every possible resource at their disposal and are given all the required support to succeed both professionally and personally,’ said M. Zulficar Ghouse, Managing Director- Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons PLC
Ex-Pack has long been engaged with providing equal career opportunities, and both men and women
are respected, rewarded and compensated equally. The company also has an open-door policy for all employees. Women empowerment stems directly from the top leadership, recognizing that women and their strengths are crucial to both the company and the overall economy.
Showers in Western, Sabaragamuwa and North-Western provinces and in Galle and Matara districts during the afternoon
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