President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared 2021-2030 the Decade of Skills Development in Sri Lanka. The move is expected to herald a transformational phase of educational reform and skills development for the nation in line with the government’s national policy framework, ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’.
The Decade of Skills Development builds on the success of Sri Lanka spearheading the adoption of World Youth Skills Day which was established through a proposal presented to the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 by the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during his tenure as the President. The action plan for the Decade of Skills Development focuses on cultivating next generation skills in line with global trends and the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Decade of Skills Development is expected to transform the general, higher and professional education and vocational education sectors in Sri Lanka in order to reduce the population of unskilled labour to 10%, create global technocrats and position Sri Lanka as the epicenter for human resource development in Asia by creating a digital, future-fit citizenry who will drive the development agenda of the country. Transforming the education sector is also expected to generate revenue for the country by attracting both foreign investments and international students, and increasing foreign remittances brought in by skilled migrant workers.
The national policy framework, ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’, places significant importance on citizens’ knowledge, skills and capabilities as key drivers to Sri Lanka’s progress. The framework sets out the need to develop and execute an action plan on education that engineers the “creation of an environment that provides our youth and local entrepreneurs with new opportunities, gives everyone new hope and a sense of pride, where people can use their skills, talents and business acumen to be the world leaders in any field of their choice”.
President Rajapaksa previously established a Presidential Task Force on Sri Lanka’s Education Affairs in line with the national policy framework to review the current education system and develop an action plan for transformation. Having reviewed the long standing issues of the education sector presented by the Task Force, the President stressed that the most valuable asset of a country is the future generation and the primary responsibility of a government is to develop human resources so that all citizens can fulfill their potential and be prosperous and contended, leading to a happy family, and a law abiding society in Sri Lanka. In line with the President’s guidance the roadmap for the Decade of Skills Development will also feature multiple re-entry points into education pathways to encourage lifelong learning and ensure that no one is left behind as Sri Lanka moves into a transformational phase of skills development.
The President further stated that public dialogues on the roadmap for the transformational agenda will be initiated in the coming weeks to ensure the initiatives undertaken to address the real needs of students, educators, parents and professionals as well as broader national level institutions and systems.
The transformational agenda for the Decade of Skills Development will be finalized with public input and is expected to galvanize action within and across sectors of education, industry and labour to realize the President’s vision for a generation of future fit, principled Sri Lankans capable of becoming world leaders in any sector of choice, that drive the development of the nation and inspire a sense of pride for all Sri Lankans.