Marga Institute - Centre for Development Studies

Seminar on the Towers of Learning

On an initiative taken by Dr Harsha Aturupana Senior Economist the co –leader of the team that produced the World Bank report on higher education in Sri Lanka the Marga Institute in collaboration with the World Bank and the Gamani Corea Foundation held a seminar on 20th of November 2009 at the Marga Auditorium. The seminar was organized to coincide with the World Bank mission which visited Sri Lanka and which included the main co-authors of the report. Dr Benoit Millot, participated in the seminar and presented some of the main conclusions of the. The speakers focused on three major themes:

  • enhancing the quality of higher education and developing an effective system of quality assurance for both public and private higher education ;
  • the non-university or alternate system of higher education and its potential for supplying the large component of the middle levels of the labour force;
  • The nature of supply and demand in the labour market for higher education and the problems of mismatch and relevance in the prevailing system.

The Chairman of the National Education Commission Professor Suraweera gave a brief opening address and informed the audience that the Commission had completed the drafting of a national policy on higher education which would be presented to His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapakse shortly. Dr Harsha Aturupana who represented the World Bank said that there had been a shift in World Bank policy in the recent past resulting in the Bank including the higher education sector among the priorities in its programmes of assistance to developing countries.

The speakers provided an insightful analysis of the shortcomings in the present system and outlined the corrections and improvements that are needed. The audience at the seminar comprised a well represented cross section of the concerned stakeholders in the education sector. It included representatives of government policy making bodies, the academic community, the private sector and civil society. The presentations were followed by a lively discussion which identified some issues of high priority that required further research. These included the poor performance of the alternate system- which accounted for only 2% of the enrolments in the tertiary sector ; the disproportionately high enrolment for external degrees in the universities and the nature and composition of this enrolment; the characteristics of the unemployed graduate population with its high concentration of females who accounted for over 75% of the unemployed with GCE/ A level and above ; the growth of the public sector in keeping with the growth of the economy and higher levels of development and their implications for higher education; the other issues of a wider nature such as the political determinants of higher education and the entrenched violence in the universities which have been outside the frame of reference of the World Bank study.


A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image.

Duis dictum tristique lacus, id placerat dolor lobortis sed. In nulla lorem, accumsan sed mollis eu, dapibus non sapien. Curabitur eu adipiscing ipsum. Mauris ut dui turpis, vel iaculis est. Morbi molestie fermentum sem quis ultricies. Mauris ac lacinia sapien. Fusce ut enim libero, vitae venenatis arcu. Cras viverra, libero a fringilla gravida, dolor enim cursus turpis, id sodales sem justo sit amet lectus. Fusce ut arcu eu metus lacinia commodo. Proin cursus ornare turpis, et faucibus ipsum egestas ut. Maecenas aliquam suscipit ante non consectetur. Etiam quis metus a dolor vehicula scelerisque.

Nam elementum consequat bibendum. Suspendisse id semper odio. Sed nec leo vel ligula cursus aliquet a nec nulla. Sed eu nulla quam. Etiam quis est ut sapien volutpat vulputate. Cras in purus quis sapien aliquam viverra et volutpat ligula. Vestibulum condimentum ultricies pharetra. Etiam dapibus cursus ligula quis iaculis. Mauris pellentesque dui quis mi fermentum elementum sodales libero consequat. Duis eu elit et dui varius bibendum. Sed interdum nisl in ante sollicitudin id facilisis tortor ullamcorper. Etiam scelerisque leo vel elit venenatis nec condimentum ipsum molestie. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Sed quis nulla et nibh aliquam cursus vitae quis enim. Maecenas eget risus turpis.