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J'pura Uni. Don faults the system, not curriculum for skills woes

2013 Jul 13

By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
A senior professor of a top local university yesterday said the academic curriculum should not be blamed for graduates not being up to industry requirements.
As opposed to a common perception that what is required by industries are not extended by the universities, a senior professor at the University of Sri Jayawardenapura, Ajith Abeysekera, yesterday charged that issues prevail in the entire setup of the education sector in Sri Lanka and not the curriculum of local universities
“When you compare the local university curriculum with leading universities such as Harvard and Stanford, it is very similar. The problem is not the curriculum but the way the education system operates,” asserted Professor Abeysekera at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce 2013 Economic Summit’s second day panel discussion intended to forge a closer partnership between the universities and the private sector.
He stated that to assess the performance of Sri Lankan graduates one should also look at local graduates working abroad. “Sri Lankan graduates working abroad are doing relatively well so how come they are not doing well in our country?” Abeysekera questioned.
According to him, it is clear from the feedback received that industries are highly satisfied with the actual hardcore knowledge of the graduates. However, Abeysekera said it is observed that the graduates lack certain attitudes and skills, and find it difficult to adapt to the culture of the corporate and private sector.
He noted that the reasons for the limitations are because many students now opt for professional qualifications while reading for the degree which restricts their involvement in university matters. “By doing so they cannot really benefit from a university education. You develop skills and creativity by interacting and involving yourself with the university community and by being a part of a sports team or a society. That is how you develop such skills and learn to manage a successful life outside,” he said.
Abeysekera also pointed out that there is a need to expand the university education system if creative outputs from graduates are expected. “There should be investments in the training of teachers and the infrastructure particularly if we are talking about student-centered learning. No matter what the Government says, such investments are not there and there is no direction towards this as well,” he said.

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