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‘Those who expressed doubts about KDU’s potential proved wrong’

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Prez pushing for education reforms

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that in spite of doubts that had been raised in certain quarters about the viability of the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) as a fully-fledged university, during its initial expansion, the critics had been proved wrong.

The KDU had evolved in a remarkably short span of time from a Defence Academy catering to the higher educational and training needs of the Armed Forces to a fully-fledged university offering courses of study in many fields to both Officer Cadets and civilian students, President Rajapaksa said. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces was delivering the keynote address at the annual Convocation of the KDU on Tuesday (16) afternoon.

The President said that regardless of doubts expressed by some, the KDU had been able to attract highly qualified and capable staff, maintain excellent standards of teaching, and consistently produce outstanding graduates in fields as diverse as Engineering, Law, Management, and Medicine.

It was now very clear that the KDU’s expansion was a great success, the President said.

The President said: “The graduates produced by the KDU are not only highly proficient in their specialisms but also have the reputation of being highly disciplined, possessing great integrity, and demonstrating strong leadership qualities as well as teamwork skills. These features are all very much in demand amongst employers.

“The high demand for KDU graduates by employers in both the private and the public sector, and the high demand from students all over the country to enter the KDU for both undergraduate and postgraduate study, speaks volumes. The fact that the university already has nearly 300 international students, including close to 40 in the Medical Faculty alone, is also a laudable achievement. In this context, the ongoing expansion of the university with the opening of its Southern Campus is encouraging, as is the expansion in its programmes of study through the inauguration of new faculties in Technology and in Criminal Justice. We will look at further options for the expansion of this university in the future as well. This will allow a larger number of students to benefit from the unique features and culture of this institution.

“In considering the future of higher education in Sri Lanka holistically, however, it must be said that there are several issues which need to be addressed.

“The world is currently in the midst of what has been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Building on the digital revolution that took place in the second half of the twentieth century, rapid technological innovations in a number of fields are converging to create transformative changes around the world.

“These changes are taking place at exponential speed, and are impacting almost every single industry in every single country. The ongoing global pandemic has only accelerated the pace of these changes further. Every country, every government, and every institution involved in education should therefore take note of these important evolving changes.

“Sri Lanka must keep pace with these disruptions and transformations 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.

“During the past year, the government employed a large number of unemployed graduates through a special scheme initiated under the Ministry of Public Administration. Of the nearly 60,000 who gained employment through this scheme, close to half were graduates in the Arts. Many had obtained their qualifications through the Open University and through external degree programmes offered by other state universities.

“It is good that such individuals had a desire to learn at the tertiary level and were able to obtain their qualifications without having to attend university full time. However, there are doubts as to whether their education has equipped them with the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to contribute productively towards fulfilling the needs of the public. This is an essential requirement if the outcome of their studies is for them to be employed by the Government and paid using public funds.

“The skills that are most in demand in today’s job market are technology related. There are so many opportunities for graduates in information technology not only in terms of employment at private sector companies, but also in terms of potential self-employment and in launching new start-ups.

“Technology will play a key role in every single economic sector in the future. 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.

“That is why I have requested all the Vice Chancellors to immediately introduce IT and Computer Studies as subjects for all of their students, irrespective of their field of study. This will give them much better prospects of finding lucrative employment or succeeding in their own businesses after they graduate.

“Alongside familiarity with technology, possessing knowledge of English is another critical requirement for our youth. If any young person has a sound knowledge of English and has access to the internet, there is no limitation on what they can learn because there are so many resources available to them online, free of charge.”



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Southern MP warns that Russian & Ukranian tourists working here are at risk

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“They may be knifed or their lives threatened”

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourists from Russia and Ukraine who are staying in houses in Sri Lanka for long periods are engaging in business activities and should be taxed to prevent them being knifed by competitors, SLPP MP Chandima Weerakkody told parliament on Friday.

“There are many tourists who are staying long term in houses,” he said. “Though they come here they cannot use their credit cards – especially Russian and Ukrainian tourists who cannot use their money through their cards. As a result they have been forced to work and earn something in Sri Lanka.”

He called on the government to have a system where they can use their money.

“In our areas many tourists are cutting hair, some are doing tinkering work, some are setting up pizza shops, some are selling cannabis – I think there is a new name now *for ganja),” Weerakkody said. “If we send the immigration behind the tourists who are coming, even those that are coming will not come.”

“No taxes are being charged from any of these tourists who are doing business. Our (local people’s) taxes are raised. I am asking at least to have a system for the government to collect some taxes

“I want to say in Parliament that in our areas, a knifing (pihi anumak), or some other threat to life (jeewitha tharjanayak) may happen if this situation continues.”

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Kidney sale racket unearthed in Colombo

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Five duped to sell their kidneys at Rs. 15 million each

By Norman Palihawadane

The Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) has informed the Colombo Additional Magistrate Ranjindra Jayasuriya that an investigation has been launched to arrest the suspects involved in the organized racket of obtaining kidneys from poor people promising big money and selling them to local and foreign people.The CCD told the court on Thursday that four men and one woman have parted with their kidneys, and despite promising to pay Rs.15 million per kidney nothing was paid.

CCD reported to court that the victims were operated at a Hospital on Cotta Road in Borella and no money was paid. A mother who was nursing a one-and-a-half-year-old infant was among those cheated.

The police told court that a person from the Bloemendhal area had referred these people through another man and a woman. Required medical tests had been conducted at three private hospitals.

Evidence has been obtained that kidney surgeries had been performed at a private hospital in Borella and the CCD stated in court that this racket was organized targeting poor families in Colombo.

It informed court that they have already launched investigations and will arrest the suspects and produce them before court.After considering the relevant submissions, the Magistrate ordered the CCD to conduct investigations and arrest the suspects and present them to court.

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Record highest number of school students visit Parliament

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School children wave during their visit to Parliament on Thursday (1). Serjeant-at Arms Narendra Fernando said that the largest number of school students in the history of the Parliament visited the Parliament on Dec 1. Over 5,000 students from 32 schools from different provinces visited the Parliament on that day, he said. More than 25,000 students representing schools in different parts of the country had visited to observe the Parliamentary debates after the Public Gallery was reopened for school students from Sept 19.

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