Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella has appealed to resourceful educational entrepreneurs in Qatar to explore the possibilities of setting up private universities for higher education in Sri Lanka.
The minister who was on a brief visit Qatar to attend the anniversary celebrations of the Stafford International School (Sri Lankan School) said the present Government in Sri Lanka was committed to providing higher educational opportunities for the growing number of youngsters as a large number of them are forced to migrate to other countries for higher studies, the Gulf Times reported.
Last year Sri Lankan parents spent nearly Rs 1500mn for their children’s higher education abroad.
“This is happening because our present facilities in the Government sector are far from enough to meet the requirements of all students passing out of the schools “ said Kiriella while adding that only 15% of those passing out ‘A’ schooling are able to pursue higher education in Sri Lanka.
“We are trying to bring private universities from other parts of the world to Sri Lanka as a large number of our youngsters want to pursue higher education after schooling at home” said the minister.
The minister said Sri Lanka which has a Commonwealth Educational System has established a number of educational institutions in the Government sector over the last 150 years . “Now we feel it is high time private educational houses from other countries are encouraged to set up higher level learning centres.”
Lauding some Gulf states including Qatar for opening international campuses Kiriella said he firmly believed similar varsities could also be founded in his country.
Answering a query the minister said Sri Lanka’s single largest foreign exchange earner is remittances from its expatriates in the Gulf region who he said contributed more than 18% of the earnings from abroad. “We are encouraging our people to migrate in search of opportunities. This would be possible only if they are properly educated. Hence we are also developing better educational infrastructure so that our people would be able to find employment elsewhere” explained the minister while highlighting the need for building good higher level educational facilities in Sri Lanka.
The minister said the Government is now focusing on sending skilled professionals to the Gulf nations . “I am told that the Sri Lankans number around 125000 or a little more in Qatar. But qualified professionals are relatively less.”
While recalling that his country has emerged as one of the top tourist destinations of South Asia Kiriela said efforts are on to improve the tourists’ flow to Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette)