First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


   14 January, 2007  Volume 13, Issue 30








Business Supplement


'Super child' syndrome can lead to primary school burnout

Our national trend towards pushing young children to 'achieve' academically has led to the introduction of inappropriate teaching methods and high expectations for pre-school and kindergarten children. The result - such youngsters face possible stress and educational burnout in elementary school itself.

It is not uncommon today to see these young children being taken from one class to another, from art classes to music and maths to name a few. There is no time for these children to have fun.

"There is a real danger that large numbers of young children will experience learning problems at an age when in the past, most children were not even in school," notes Dr. David Elkind, Ph.D., professor of child study, Tufts University, and internationally known child development specialist.

Young children learn differently from older children, even those who are one or two years older. This fact is often missed by parents who associate education with desks and chairs, pencils, work books, homework and totally teacher directed lessons. Young children however learn best through active manipulation and exploration of materials with opportunities to initiate their own learning projects.

Young children not only learn differently than older children, they demonstrate this learning differently, in their speech and their actions rather than by their responses to quizzes.

According to Dr. Elkind, "Teaching three to four year olds as they were six-year olds creates a great deal of stress for little children. With pressure to learn through inappropriate methods, children may get turned off to learning at a very early stage, moreover, when their time is taken up by teacher initiated answers and instructions; they never learn how to teach themselves - how to raise questions and how to find answers on their own.

"Young children are natural learners, their curiosity and desire to make sense of their world leads  to spontaneous self directed learning. When children's natural curiosity is thwarted or restricted  by work  books and memorising letters and numbers, their desire to learn is diminished. They may even become dependent on adults to direct all their activities, afraid to take the initiative," says Dr. Elkind.

Young children do not do their best learning while sitting down at a desk, trying to be quiet, and listening to the teacher lecture. Young children learn from activity, from exploring real objects, talking with people, asking questions and solving real problems, such as how to balance a stack of blocks (maths) or playing with water and finding things that float and things that sink  (science).

Children learn from practical experiments like trying a picture puzzle, making mistakes and trying again until they can say to themselves 'I did it!'

This is not to say that all pre-schools/ child care centres are harmful for children. No, in fact good programmes are extremely valuable when appropriate to the age and development of the child. Good early childhood programmes help children acquire social skills and learn how to learn.

These programmes provide children an environment rich with age, appropriate curriculum activities that include manipulatives, books and story-telling, science and discovery, music and movement, arts and crafts, dramatic play, writing, computer, field trips, water play, cooking and outside play for large motor development.

By enriching the young child's school environment with such activities that are challenging yet age appropriate, we can provide confident, empowered and eager to learn children who will in turn be confident, empowered and secure adults in the future.

- Ramona Pillai

All roads lead to EDEX 2007

EDEX 2007 - the National Higher Education and Careers EXPO in Sri Lanka, organised by the Royal College Union, will be held on January 19, 20 and 21 at the BMICH International Exhibition Centre, Colombo. A secondary event will be held at Queen's Hotel, Kandy on January 23 and 24.

The event is endorsed by the Presidential Secretariat, Education Ministry, Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training and Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has signed up as Strategic Partner.

The vision behind the expo is 'to empower Sri Lankan youth to be globally competitive.'

Three main pavilions featuring Domestic Education, International Education and Careers/Recruitment Segment encompassing diverse options in post-secondary, graduate and postgraduate fields will be on show at EDEX 2007.

Over 200 higher learning institutions and universities will be represented from countries such as the United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and India directly or via agents. The Singaporean and Indian institutions would be targeting Sri Lankan students to make the respective countries the preferred destination for education.

Exhibitors will assist focused visitors to make clear and informed decisions on upgrading their academic qualifications.

Those seeking to sign up to follow various courses on vocational and technical training too will find a wide range of opportunities on offer in areas such as Information Communications Technology, Accounting, Commercial Shipping, Management, Graphic Designing, Fashion Designing, BPO Industry etc.

Most of the participant booths will offer exclusive concessions and attractive discounts as well as waiving of registration fees in some cases, especially customised for EDEX 2007.  For those considering enrolment into courses of study it is an event 'not to be missed.'

For the Sri Lankan employers, it presents a cost-effective platform to make initial contact, interact and exchange information with thousands of prospective employees who would not have otherwise considered them. Simultaneously, job-seekers too will benefit greatly from the on site interviews during the fair and free seminars on generic and industry-focused topics. Topics covered will include 'How to prepare a CV' and 'How to face a job interview.'

Leading up to EDEX 2007, a web portal launched recently ( enabling job seekers to upload personal details (curriculum vitae) has attracted a large number of applications from prospective candidates from the length and the breadth of the country.

It is intriguing to note that among the applicants, some are from remote and far flung areas. This is a clear indication of the rapidly widening internet access throughout the country. As the organisers, TEAM EDEX is delighted at having been able to reach out to these rural youth as a preliminary step towards fulfilling their vision.

Web based jobseekers data base is a 'fee free' service to help unemployed or underemployed youth in the country. The CVs filed will be referred to private sector and multinational companies from industries such as banking, financial, services, manufacturing, airlines, and the BPO sector. A number of other corporate entities too have approached the organisers to access the 'data base' which is growing steadily and gaining popularity.

Held concurrently, 'EDEX Career Seminars' will unveil programmes covering topics of relevance to job-seekers as well as industry-focused topics. The highlight of the programme, a CEOs forum on the theme 'How to empower Sri Lankan youth to be globally competitive' will be of particular interest.

For overseas participants, EDEX 2007 can be an ideal and cost-effective platform in Sri Lanka with a visitor profile of top-notch final-year students, post O and A Level students in large numbers looking to chart out a career.

Representatives from the American Embassy and Edu-France too will be present and those seeking higher education in these countries will find their presence greatly beneficial.

EDEX 2007 will be a real boon to the Sri Lankan youth, enabling them to invest their time and resources productively towards self development through market relevant skills development leading to gainful employment.

 40,000 students worldwide

Gateway Kids School of Computing celebrates 10 years

Gateway's ICT kids programme that enables Sri Lankan children to become confident IT users from an early age is now offered in several countries. Gateway along with its UK partner NCC Education, has introduced the programme in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Dubai, Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

In Sri Lanka, tens of thousands of children take Gateway's programme of study in 25 centres spread across the country.

The development of an educational programme in Sri Lanka that has the ability to be offered overseas is a rare achievement in the history of education in Sri Lanka.

Excellent results

At London OL, IGCSE and GCSE examinations during the last four years, Gateway students have recorded a pass rate of 99% to 100%. Among them over 90% passed with a minimum grade of a credit while over 50% received A+ or A grades.

In the National Young Computer Scientist competition last year, Gateway's Purinda Gunesekara won the coveted Gold Medal at the Senior Category of Young Computer Scientist 2005 organised by the Sri Lanka Association for the Software Industry. Purinda went on to represent Sri Lanka at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2005 that was held in Thailand where he was the only award winner for Sri Lanka.

In 2006 too, Gateway students performed exceptionally well to win 23 out of the 40 awards. Among the high achievers were Chirantha Amerasinghe who won a special Merit Award and Sithira Serasinghe who won the Silver Medal. The gold medallist in the Junior category - Ganindu Nanayakkara who represented Ananda College was also a student of Gateway Centre for Information Technology, Borella. Gateway College, Colombo were the winners of the National Schools Software competition, 2005.

International endorsements

Gateway's courses are endorsed by Edexcel, UK, the organisation responsible for London OL and AL examinations. Referring to Gateway's course material, Edexcel has endorsed them to be ideal preparatory material that provides everything students need to succeed at GCSE, IGCSE or OL Computer Studies and/or ICT.

The latest commendation that Gateway has received is from the London Metropolitan University. A spokesman of the university has stated that they are very pleased to be supporting Gateway's ICT training programme for children. They have further said that this programme is building the foundations of the future. The university works with NCC Education to develop computing expertise throughout the world, bringing British education into a large number of countries.


The curriculum followed at Gateway is the British National Curriculum, which is followed by all schools in Britain. This a well researched, age appropriate curriculum which incorporates the widest possible ICT skills needed for children of 4 to 16 years of age. The curriculum is regularly reviewed and updated in order to accommodate all advances in the field of ICT. A newly updated curriculum is to be introduced this month.

The courses are divided equally between workbook-based learning and practical activities.  The use of interactive educational software for the younger ages exposes them to a range of subjects, whilst the older children focus more on standard computer application programmes and languages. The programme includes the use of special teaching equipment such as computer control units, data loggers, floor robots, etc. The systematic development of programming skills throughout the course makes the programme complete and comprehensive.

Certificate Courses for juniors

Gateway recently introduced three special courses for IT smart juniors. They are Multimedia for Juniors, Hardware, Assembly and Networking for Juniors and Programming for Juniors. These courses are offered to children aged 11 to 16.  

Method of delivery

Children are provided with the best of individual attention where qualified teachers take a maximum of two to four kids at a given time. Students do not have to share computers as every student is provided with a computer during the lesson. With such facilities, students have the flexibility of proceeding at his/her pace. Parents too have the flexibility of choosing a time convenient to them as Gateway centres work all seven days of the week. There are no fixed dates or times for courses to commence. Therefore, children can be enrolled any time of the year. 


Gateway offers more qualifications than any other children's ICT programme available in the world.

Students will receive certificates, validated by NCC, UK on successful completion of every level. Students also have a choice of receiving certification from the International Curriculum and Assessment Agency (ICAA) [endorsed by University of Southampton] or the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) or both at the successful completion of Key Stages 1 to 3.

Students who complete Tiers 8 and 9 have the knowledge and skills to achieve the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) qualification awarded by the ECDL Foundation.

Key Stage 4 coaches students for public examinations such as Edexcel OL/IGCSE Computing, Cambridge OL/IGCSE Computer Studies and Edexcel GCSE ICT. Students can go on to sit the above examinations to achieve the relevant qualifications.

American College sets the standard

Education is an unending process and it's considered an investment in respect of an individual, family or community at large. An investment should be made with carefully identified objectives and guided by competent people.

Competent and committed institutions with necessary resources and experience can always guide and train youth to be productive and useful individuals. The American College of Higher Education (ACHE) has consistently been an educational institution that students have come to trust for such investment.

 ACHE is the pioneer in American education in Sri Lanka with up- to-date resources. The main campus of ACHE is located at Dehiwela which is completing its 11th year of providing education. A subsidiary of the ACHE is the American International School (AIS) which is presently housed in the same premises at Dehiwela.  With its rapid expansion with four branches located in Kandy, Galle, Negombo and Matara, it is now well equipped to better serve the aspirants of higher education, professionals and employment seekers.

An American university education is different from the traditional university education found in most  Commonwealth countries. It is designed to provide in-depth knowledge and skills in a broad spectrum of disciplines without being restricted to rote learning. The American system enables students to complete the first degree by the age of 19 years whereas in traditional systems it takes much longer.

The American College of Higher Education is academically linked to the Broward Community College in Florida, USA and Excelsior College, New York, USA.

Over the last 11 years more than 500 students who successfully completed their academic programmes at ACHE have been able to transfer to prestigious universities and higher educational institutions in countries like USA, UK, Canada and Australia such as California State University, University of Wyoming, Boise State University, Claron University, University of Hawaii, Winnona State University, Bellvue University, University of Toledo and Deakin University, etc.

The number of courses of study at degree level available at ACHE exceeds 500 and the students have the facility to select the subjects and subject combinations to suit their aptitudes and future educational plans. Most of the students have the tendency to opt for the 2 + 2 programme which provides the facility for transfer after the completion of two years in Sri Lanka.

In this programme the student can be home based and the cost is much less than the cost incurred if the programme is followed in a foreign country. ACHE also provides the facility to complete the four year degree in Sri Lanka in Human Resource Management, General Business, and Information Technology. This degree is awarded by Excelsior College, New York, USA.

ACHE has achieved remarkable success in training thousands of students in a wide range of disciplines in computer and Information Technology. These programmes are especially designed to impart knowledge, skills and competencies required by the profession and vocations in respective fields. Diploma in Computer Studies, Advanced Diploma in Hardware and Web Designing, Diploma in Desktop Publishing and Diploma in Graphic Designing are few of such programmes.

The programmes in English language, Spoken English and advanced courses in English and English Literature are much sought after by teachers, professionals, as well as students. Some of these programmes are especially designed to suit the students of suburban and rural areas who do not possess an adequate knowledge and competence in the use of the language for professional and academic purposes.

Lecturers from Broward Community College as well as from countries such as Australia, India, Canada and USA regularly visit ACHE.

The programmes in Business Studies and Management hold pride of place among all popular programmes while Diploma in Management, Diploma in Marketing, Diploma in HRM & OB (Human Resource management and organisational behaviour) are in demand by employment seekers, mid-career employees and professionals.

The programmes that have been continuously catered to the requirements in the field of psychology are many. Professionals, academics in the field of education and those who require competencies in related vocations have been benefited immensely by courses such as Diploma in Psychology, Diploma in Counseling Psychology, Diploma in Child Psychology, Advanced Diploma in Child Psychology, Advanced Diploma in Psychology and Introduction to Teenage Psychology.

In addition, the institution has been conducting programmes to facilitate students to sit for standardised international exams such as TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT and IELTS.

The medium of instruction of all programmes conducted by all four branches of ACHE is English and adequate facilities are available for the acquisition of skills and competencies in relevant areas of study through practical training. All programmes are well coordinated and conducted by highly qualified and experienced staff.

The students of all branches of the American College of Higher Education are eligible for special discounts and gifts. The institution has also made arrangements to support financially needy students.

All branches of the ACHE are equipped with modern infrastructure facilities and teaching aids such as air-conditioned classrooms, computer labs, multimedia projectors, overhead projectors and white boards.

The fourth branch of ACHE was opened on  January 11 at Akuressa Road, Matara by CEO, ACHE, Sherryn Yaseen Mangalagama. Initially this branch will conduct programmes in English, Computer Science and IT and Business Studies. This branch will cater to the educational needs of students in Matara, Akuressa, Weligama, Dikwella and Hambantota areas. 

Adequate English knowledge required to pursue an American degree can be acquired through the special English programmes conducted by ACHE.

ACHE celebrated its Convocation and the Graduation Ceremony in October last year. It was held at Hotel Earls' Regency, Kandy. Over 200 students from Dehiwela, Kandy, Galle and Negombo campuses graduated at this ceremony.

Synergy's campaign for progress and ethics 

"To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society" - President Theodore Roosevelt

In the melee for short term gain in the business world the ethics of the people who manage and lead have come under scrutiny by both right minded citizens and many professionals. The progress of an individual or for that matter an organisation should be in accordance with the accepted precepts which govern society.

The education sector owes much more than mere compliance as it is a sector which is responsible for the future of thousands of youth in this country. In this endeavour Synergy's growth is phenomenal both as an entity and one which has made a difference in shaping the futures of professionals.

Synergy's campaign which was subtle is now more visible and vibrant in its pursuit of what they believe is what would make a difference in how a student of Synergy will be perceived by the corporate world. The many value additions which Synergy offers the student have been acclaimed by professionals and students alike in overseas markets.

"To us growth implies broadening our scope over international markets being validated by many corporate giants. This is only possible if we create a difference in those who seek our guidance," said Michael Ranasinghe of Synergy.

 Synergy has expanded its portfolio from the core of CIM extending to Apparel Marketing, Communication Advertising and Marketing (CAM), Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) UK and was recently accredited by CIM UK to launch the tourism marketing programme in the Maldives.

"We will be initially launching the tourism marketing programme in the Maldives as several resort owners have expressed enthusiasm in us taking the initiative. We have made plans to launch tourism marketing in Sri Lanka and the ground work is underway to secure the partnerships with the industry," stated Ranasinghe.

Synergy never frets in the face of challenge and adversity and thrives when competition increases whether fair or unfair. "2006 was a year where we had to take on unfair and unethical practices adopted by some in the education sector as we felt our silence was misconstrued to mean weakness. Students and academics alike were behind us and still are, to take the lead to expose those who use education as a money spinning wheel rather than a sector which should be more bent on providing genuine value to the students and through this earn a return," said Ranasinghe. 

The efforts of Synergy will bear fruition over the next few years but what is commendable is the initiative taken to be different rather than follow the herd as is normally done and one which is the easiest to practice.

Synergy has progressed in every market it has developed from scratch, a case in point being Maldives which had no presence of CIM until Synergy took the bold step of commencing sessions in 2003 with the support of CIM UK.

"As is always the case there were some who laughed when they heard that I used to lecture to two students in Maldives which we have developed into a group of more than 40 today and from what I have heard without a single advertisement inquiries have been streaming in for the new session. The same is true with Kandy and it will be so in London as well," remarked Ranasinghe. 

Michael Ranasinghe's partner, Mohamed Adamaly is currently touring two Asian destinations which Synergy will launch CIM in and this forward thrust is due to their uncomplicated "light on our feet strong in our head" approach as described by Ranasinghe. 

The learning students go through at Synergy holds them in good stead when dealing with the pressures of work life and above all gives them the values, which are fast eroding in the commercial world.

"It is easier said than done to shape the way people think but unless one makes an effort there will never be a change and this is what we will pursue relentlessly. We are more than happy to let any one who wants to take the easy and greasy way, move on but will not change our stance  when it comes to what we believe is right," added Ranasinghe.

Sri Lankan student bags CIM World Prize

Twenty-four year old Mihiru Perera  has won the World Prize for Strategic Marketing in Practice (Case Study), at the June 2006 examinations of the Chartered Institute of Marketing of UK (CIM) body.

He has been studying at Nalanda College and Gateway International School before successfully completing his Bachelor's Degree in Management and Marketing at the Edith Cowan University of Australia.

In addition to his academic activities he has been the president of Leo Club of  Nawala, vice president and head of directors, and sports director of  the Students Council, Australian College of Business and Technology (ACBT).

'Outstanding Performance for International Marketing III' and 'Strategic Management III,' awarded by the Edith Cowan University  Perth, Australia was another achievement of Mihiru Perera.

 Fast and cost effective

Oxford College provides pathway to UK BBM Degree

Oxford College of Business is a leading educational institute specialising in higher education in Sri Lanka. Among the institutes of higher education in Sri Lanka, Oxford College has gained success within a short period of time.

The aspect that most contributed to achieving this position has been the conducting of classes by fully qualified teachers, subject to international quality standards. The Oxford Education Institute which has got the approval of the Tertiary and Vocational Training Commission is maintaining connections at the highest level with higher educational institutes world wide.

Affiliated to several professional organisations and institutes of excellence such as the Association of Business Executives in Great Britain, City and Guilds - UK, London Teacher Training College - UK, and Northwood University - USA, London Centre of Marketing. Besides these, St. Patrick's College, UK is the chief partner of Oxford College while all the courses of the institute are conducted in accordance with British quality standards under their guidance.

Abe and BA Business and Management Studies Degree

In this regard, initially students have to successfully complete the ABE Business Administration Certificate Course and then move on to the Diploma stages 1 and 2 and the Advanced Diploma course. This whole process can be completed within a relatively short duration of two years. 

Oxford has successfully served nearly 1000 ABE students.

Students who successfully complete Phase 3 become professional members of the Business Executives Association, United Kingdom. Thereby, they acquire the required qualifications to sit for the Degree finals of Leeds Metropolitan University (UK).

The specialty of this course is that it is a globally recognised and accepted qualification. One can successfully complete this course within a relatively short duration of eight months on a low budget. Leeds Metropolitan University is one of the largest in the UK with over  40, 000 students from over 100 countries worldwide.

This entire process will cost little less than Sri Lankan Rs. 390,000

The above programme will commence in  January 2007.

London Centre of Marketing

London Centre of Marketing is an accredited, non political, non profit making institution based in London.

LCM is affiliated with the British Council Global Education Service, Institute of Quality Assurance, British Quality Foundation, The British Learning Association and London Excellence.

It offers Certificate in Sales and Marketing, Advance Certificate in Sales and Marketing, and Advance Diploma in Sales and Marketing.

Examinations are held four times in a year i.e. March, June, September and December.

LCM examination fee is set at GBP 24 per module. No registration fee will be charged.

Oxford College will be commencing Advanced Certificate classes from January 20.

Association of Accounting Technicians courses (AAT)

Oxford College along with the expansion of its business activities, degrees and professional courses commenced a new wing which is on the third floor of the same building. It has already started conducting classes for the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Examination which has high recognition in the accounting field.

Generally, to pass out as a graduate, a student has to first pass the GCE O/L examination, then the A/L and spend another three to four years in a government university. But under an innovative education system introduced by Oxford College, a student who has passed the O/L exam can aspire to become a Business Administration Degree holder within three years. 

"It is a victory that we have achieved to collect the best team of professionals who are not second to anyone in their experience. The AAT stage I, II and III Sinhala medium classes have commenced.  The difference between the AAT course conducted by the Oxford College and the other institutes is that Oxford College has created this course with the objective of evolving full professional standards and the students who enter the course besides, the AAT will be exposed to training in practical book keeping," said a spokeperson.

Computer based accounting

The above is compulsory and students will be exposed to practical training by the institute.

Diploma in English and IT

The urgent need for career prospects has been recognised by this institute which has introduced specially designed programmes - TIS and IT. These programmes are of three months duration with routinely conducted collaborative and link programmes by a panel of highly qualified experienced lecturers. On completion one is awarded a Diploma in English and IT, which is internationally recognised. This special course is to enhance the careers prospects of all who sat for O/L and A/L exams and give them confidence to step out into the world.

IELTS and English courses

Also among the English courses conducted in Sri Lanka, the English course Purna Nimagna conducted by Oxford College has become the most popular.  The reasons for this are the enrolling of students for the course in smaller groups and use of modern English teaching methodologies under the guidance of expert lecturers. Evening batches will be started soon for working people.  In addition to these, out of the international courses conducted at Oxford College, the following are popular and in great demand:

 Diploma in English Teacher Training

 Diploma in General Teacher Training

 Diploma for Administrative and Executive Secretaries.

 Diploma in Psychology

 Diploma in Human Resource Management (abe)

You can visit Oxford College at the EDEX Exhibition at BMICH on January 19, 20 and 21, stall No. 41.

Professional IT training from LAN & WAN

LAN & WAN Pvt. Ltd., started out in 2005 and has so far deployed complete network solutions to many satisfied customers in the country. LAN & WAN's technical solutions include IT infrastructure designing, security, disaster recovery, IT consultancy and performance optimisation. The company aspires to assist its customers to harness the power of IT to become more competitive in a world where business transacts at an unprecedented speed.

The service agreements offered at LAN & WAN complement a company's existing IT staff to assist in efficiently meeting core business objectives.

The service contracts are designed to build an on-going business relationship and strong business relationships yield better communication and a clear understanding of a company's goals.

Keeping in view the growing need for well trained hardware and networking professionals, LAN AND WAN STUDIES now offers high-end training which meet industry standards. The list of courses offered includes Hardware, Networking, MCSE 2003, CCNA, CCNP, Cisco Wireless LAN Specialist and LINUX among others.

The company also provides corporate training for banks, colleges, and government sectors and corporate training for companies depending on specific requirements.

The IT Industry, one of the booming global industries, is looking for thousands of qualified personnel. The fact is that a lack of good IT knowledge has seriously affected the productivity and efficiency of many businesses internationally. Courses and training programmes at LAN & WAN will attempt to overcome this current problem.

The company's mission is to prepare students from a variety of backgrounds for the global opportunities created every day in this ever-changing industry.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Managing Director, LAN & WAN (Pvt) Ltd., M. R. M. Rizwan stated that the company offers students professional certificates, which are internationally recognised. The courses will be conducted by graduates, Cisco qualified lecturers and Microsoft Certified trainers. Rizwan also added that the courses will be ideal for school leavers who have O/L or A/L qualifications.

Education for a brighter future

City and Guilds started back in 1878 in London together with the Guild for Vocational Education. City and Guilds operates in around 100 countries, through 8500 centres (colleges, training providers and businesses) worldwide offering qualifications.

The institute recognises the fact that traditional qualifications are not always appropriate to business environments. City and Guilds happens to be the UK's leading vocational awarding body - with a reputation for quality with employers, educational bodies and learners worldwide.

The institute's reputation has been built by people, with over 1000 employees worldwide - as diverse as the ideas and skills they provide - who are skilled in areas from product development and quality assurance to marketing, sales and customer care, and in key support areas such as HR and catering.

City and Guilds offers learners over 800 different qualifications - so that students can learn skills that equip them to fulfil their career ambitions or enrich their leisure time. City and Guilds qualifications are valued by employers because they're developed in conjunction with key industry bodies - so they're always relevant and up to date.

City and Guilds qualifications offer clear pathways to progression, spanning from entry level to the equivalent of a postgraduate degree. The institute offers a wide range of senior awards and higher level qualifications to professionals who want to get their abilities recognised by a name that counts.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Country Manager, City and Guilds in Sri Lanka, Mufthy Hashim stated that vocational training is a necessity the world over today and that academic qualifications alone are not sufficient any more. 

Here in Sri Lanka, the institute offers 40 different vocational training programmes in 50 accredited training centres islandwide. The programmes include telecommunication, hair and beauty, electrical, electronic, mechanical, civil engineering, automobile engineering as well as the hospitality sector with culinary arts, housekeeping, restaurant service etc.

A good range of vocational English qualifications are also available, which are designed both for the local and overseas job market.

According to Hashim, City and Guilds has branched out to Kandy. He also added that students need not adhere to the traditional education programme of sitting A/Level's just to get into higher education such as university. He said, "this is not to discourage students from doing their A/Level's but now with all the higher education that there is out there, including the programmes we offer, it's just not a necessity any more."

And what's more is that universities, colleges,employers and professional associations around the world have embraced City and Guilds graduates.

The programmes at City and Guilds are offered in three levels, Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma. Advanced Diploma holders can have a direct entry to the final year of a UK  university.

The curriculum is set by City and Guilds while the assessments and supervision is carried out by the local branch of City and Guilds International Sri Lanka and resource personnel from abroad conduct trainer programmes when required.

City and Guilds has over the years built up an outstanding relationship with some of the state owned bodies who provide vocational education. According to Hashim, the past four years have seen a 10-fold growth in Sri Lanka with 3000 candidates and over the years thousands of certificates have been awarded by City and Guilds.

A passport to success

France is one of the leading host countries for foreign students. There were over 250,000 of them in 2005. But foreign students are not just choosing France for its art, literature and social sciences. Nor is the attraction a recent one.

Among the most diverse and effective in the world, the French education system has a tremendous amount to offer. Alongside its specialist institutes, including colleges of art, fashion, design, architecture, medical and paramedical studies, France has over 3,500 establishments, including 87 universities and nearly 500 Grandes coles (Ivy League Institutes of Higher Education) - 240 engineering colleges, 230 business schools and four coles Normales Suprieures (which provide high-level cultural and scientific education).

Furthermore, as well as offering a wide range of highly regarded courses of study, the French university system provides almost free access for everyone, without distinction.

This is far from the case in every country. Tuition fees here are more than competitive. For example: fees for a Bachelor's degree are 350 euro per year and 400 euro for a Master's degree, and these sums include protection within the social security system.

The reason why the costs are so low in comparison with English, American or Australian universities is that the French State considers that money should under no circumstances be a curb on the acquisition of knowledge. It therefore subsidises visiting foreign students to a large extent - to a level of two billion euro - and confers on them the same status, i.e. the same rights, in terms of awarding grants, and the same degrees as French citizens. Again, a situation that does not apply everywhere.

With regard to degrees, France has been involved in a major drive to harmonise European degree courses since 1997, and this is currently being completed. In fact French universities have all adopted the three European degrees, Bachelor's, Masters and Doctorate (the BMD system).

What about the 'language barrier' one may ask? This is becoming less and less important since more than 300 courses of study are now dispensed in English, on all campuses in the country.

 In collaboration with Nanyang Institute of Management, Singapore

British College offers BA (Hons) Degree in Hospitality Management

British College of Applied Studies (BCAS) has been in the lead in offering market relevant study programmes in various fields.

Established in 1999 as an institution providing IT plus English language courses for school-leavers, the college has now flourished as a leading organisation in the island with affiliations and accreditations with several universities and world recognised examination bodies.

Identifying the training and higher education needs of this country and growing potential and the competition in the international job market, BCAS has rightly set its vision to be a forward looking premier higher education provider delivering quality education in a conducive and dynamic learning environment that nurtures the students with the right knowledge and skills to succeed in their chosen careers.

BCAS has also positioned itself in the higher education and training market of Sri Lanka as an institution distinguished from the rest by projecting itself as one that gives the right training and knowledge with widely recognised international certification.

In consideration of the national needs and practical issues the British College in its search for the right international certification and qualification awarding body to validate and certify its programmes found EDEXCEL International to be the best choice given its experience, acceptance, global reach, training philosophy and affordability.

Back in 2002, being satisfied with the resources and facilities of BCAS, Edexcel International approved the college as its recognised training centre.

Ever since this collaboration BCAS has attained remarkable achievements in delivering the BTEC, HND Courses in Sri Lanka. It is the only centre that offers all four streams of study; namely Computing, BIT, Software Engineering and Quantity Surveying for HND Awards. It has registered the highest number of enrolments for BTEC, HND among other centers in Sri Lanka, which demonstrates the students' confidence in the learning system of BCAS.

The achievement of Triple A (AAA)  Grading from Edexcel - UK by BCAS during the last two consecutive external verifications (2004 and 2005), a process that verifies the adoption of international quality standards in the delivery of the BTEC  courses demonstrates the internal academic standards maintained at BCAS. Again BCAS has achieved the 7A Grading by Edexcel in 2006.

Students at BCAS are inspired and challenged to achieve their academic aspirations by its faculty who are well qualified with Degrees and Masters Degrees with substantial industrial experience in fields like Engineering, Computing, IT and Building Studies.

Consisting of four divisions - School of Computing, School of Building Studies, School of English Language Training and Student Placement Office, BCAS offers programmes from Foundation to Higher National Diploma's which is equivalent to the first two years of degree studies at several overseas universities, which means the students after earning an HND Award by studying at BCAS for 18 months can comfortably find a placement in more than 100 universities, especially in the UK and USA direct into the third year of their respective degree.

This study path gives the students a substantial amount of reduction on the actual cost of earning such degrees overseas.

The next move of BCAS has been to establish a School of Management in consideration of the demand for professionals. It has been possible with the signing of an agreement with the Nanyang Institute of Management in Singapore. BCAS offers an International BA (Hons) Degree in Hospitality Management, a three phase programme. Students who enrol for this course will get a six month training at BCAS.

Another four month training programme will be arranged in Singapore and students will then get job placements there for eight months. Then they will be transferred to UK where they will undergo one year of studies and another year of job placement.

In general the demand from employers for graduates in the hospitality and tourism industries is extremely high. It is estimated that currently the demand for hospitality management graduates exceeds the available supply by eight to one.

Similarly, major tourism bodies, such as the World Tourism Organisation, are predicting that the hospitality, travel and tourism industries, both in the UK and worldwide, are expected to grow significantly over the next decade.

This programme opens up access to a wide range of possible employment and career opportunities throughout the hospitality and tourism industries in this country and overseas. Graduates from the BA (Hons) International Hospitality Management programme will be able to pursue careers in hotels, restaurants, airlines, theme parks, public houses, contract catering and fast food companies.

The BA (Hons) Hospitality Management programme will equip graduates to pursue either corporate careers in leading restaurant companies in the UK or overseas, or to seek to operate their own restaurant.

Alternative career routes include food manufacturing or retailing companies that are concerned with developing new products, menus, and operational formats. Alternative career routes include other service industries that value the transferable skills and abilities these programmes develop. 

With BCAS  there is no need for wasting time and energy after completion of one's O/Level or A/Level. Just enrol at BCAS and become graduates within a very limited time frame at an affordable cost.

IPM - the nation's leader in HRM

The Institute of Personnel Management of Sri Lanka is the pioneer HR institute in the country, having state recognition by an Act of Parliament, and is committed to improving and upgrading knowledge, skills and attitudes of HR practitioners.

IPM Sri Lanka has strong international relationships, being affiliated to the Asia Pacific Federation of Human Resource Management and World Federation of Personnel Management Associations.

The prime objective of IPM is to promote and develop principles, technologies and practices of HR management. The institute conducts three different levels of educational programmes for categories ranging from school-leavers to top HR management in the country.

The Foundation Programme in Human Resource Management is mainly designed for school leavers and the Certificate Course in Human Resource Management is for junior Executives in the HR field.

The professional qualification in Human Resource Management is a two-year study programme, which consists of 18 modules and a research paper. Local universities have recognised the professional qualification in Human Resource Management as an entry qualification for their post graduate study programmes.

IPM has established study centres within the Colombo municipal limits apart from conducting lecture sessions at its headquarters at Vijaya Kumaratunga Mawatha, Narahenpita, Colombo 5. There are three study centres outside the city of Colombo in Kandy, Kurunegala and Galle.

IPM also conducts specialised study courses in the areas of training and development. This includes a short duration Certificate Course in Training and Development and a Diploma Course covering a period of one year.

IPM offers training programmes such as Certificate Course in Supervisory Management, Certificate Course in Executive Development, Certificate Course in Labour Laws and Industrial Relations, Certificate Course in Disciplinary and Inquiry Procedure and a Certificate Course in Secretarial Development and Clerical Development.

The institute also offers a consultancy service in relation to HR management to both HR public and private sector organisations. IPM extends its services to corporate entities in various aspects such as conducting selection tests, interviews, advising on matters pertaining to industrial relations, salaries and wage administration etc.

Conducting in-house customised/tailor made training programmes to meet the specific needs of organisations is another service provided by the institute.

As a social responsibility project IPM offered its Foundation Programme in Human Resource Management free of charge to the island's 10 best students at the GCE A/Level examination held in the year 2005.

Arrangements have been made to award 20 scholarships this year to the first five students in Bio-Science, Physical Science, Arts and Commerce streams in the island. IPM has also set up a job placement centre to provide job opportunities for the students who successfully complete their study courses with the institute to find HR related jobs.

The job placement centre will cater to the needs of corporates who look for qualified people to fill their job vacancies. Currently, IPM has a student base of over 1000 studying at any given point of time with the institute at different levels of study.

ICASL - gateway to becoming a Chartered Accountant

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL) is the National, Professional Accounting Body of Sri Lanka.The institute has over 3500 members and over 24,000 registered active students.

The institute is a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC),the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA) and a founder member of the South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA).

ICASL is also the sole Accounting Standards Setting Authority in Sri Lanka, and the application of such standards is mandatory for all companies listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE). With the rapid development of commercial activity, public expectations of accountancy services are becoming higher.

The professional competence sought for is nothing but the best and the care and diligence exercised by the professional accountant towards his duty, is expected to be complete.

The institute has many a goal in making their students match up to these expectations. Ensuring a high level of professional competence among the membership and those aspiring to become members is on top of the list and the institute also contributes, in a significant manner, to the national development effort as well as promoting the image of the institute and of its membership worldwide.

Entry can take place at almost any time of the year as the institute conducts classes for all levels including the Foundation, Intermediate, and Finals one and two after which a student graduates as a Chartered Accountant.

In addition students can also opt for the MBA or the Executive Degree in Accounting and Finance. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Director of Studies at ICASL, Dayananda Ambalangoda and Manager of Student Promotions and Development, Aruna Colombathantri said that the mediums are in both Sinhala and English and that many of the graduates have gone on to hold high posts in leading banks and other similar sectors.

They also added that the fee structure is affordable which has been a big advantage as students from all walks of life have been able to earn degrees. Ambalangoda also said that the course is  preferred by students who have just completed their A/ Level's.

Incompetent graduates: blame the education system

Too often graduates are at the receiving end of comments made by Sri Lanka's corporate community as to their inability to fit into the corporate work environment. Their attitude to work, their lack of English language skills, their body language, their dress sense etc. are all frowned upon. Are corporates really justified in generalising all graduates to be a bunch of ill-suited potential executives unfit to climb the corporate ladder?

Sri Lanka's education system derives from the British colonial rulers. Education then was limited only to an elite class of people. Today education is open and free for all. Sri Lanka's education system is structured thus: five years of elementary schooling, six years of lower secondary schooling and two years of higher secondary schooling.

Half a million children prepare for the O/ Level examination annually yet only a third move forward to preparing for the A/L examination and only 2% of this are actually offered university admission to the nine universities in Sri Lanka. We would expect the cream to fall into this 2% (of almost 115,000).

That Sri Lanka's education system is outdated is undeniable. And what about reforms - well countless dialogues and proposals are initiated but with no likelihood of any practical solutions being carried. That is the status quo. The government carries the burden of ensuring that free education is provided for all. But it is a burden that the government is unable to handle alone.

A system of fee-levying seems the best option but there is opposition to that option too. While the government is bearing the burden of providing free education it must not be forgotten that the private sector is just as important. The private sector employs 45% of Sri Lanka's workforce and therefore the system should be sensitive towards the needs of the private sector.

Role of the private sector

The private sector on their part needs to depart from merely bemoaning the inadequacies of the graduates but outline a programme in cohesion with the university authorities to nurture 'employable graduates.' Various business institutes could facilitate this by working out a programme that would become part of the course curriculum for which students could be charged. Companies can even set up intern programmes wherein students could do work on a part-time basis in order to prove their talents further.

What the education system needs to do is to promote education that is relevant and current. The majority of students following university degrees in Sri Lanka do not come from affluent families. Therefore, the government and the private sector need to comprehend and structure programmes that will not create further confusion.

There is no need to create committees for this task - it is wise for the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to take up this venture by obtaining a needs assessment from its members and work with the government and university authorities to highlight areas that the private sector requires as priority.

Shortcomings of Sri Lanka's education system

A shortcoming that exists in all areas of public service today is employment of individuals not suited for the work they are tasked to do. This is applicable to even the private sector. One can imagine the fate of children who find themselves under the guidance of teachers who are merely teaching to get their pay check.

What is lacking is accountability, poor planning by the Education Ministry and the inadequate standards of teaching and means to benchmark the teaching practiced throughout the island. The inadequacies have resulted in the emergence of a shadow education system involving tuition to which children going to private schools and even international schools have found themselves trapped into. The tuition mania is a shadow education system that the Education Ministry of Sri Lanka has no control over and shows no interest in countering at all.

While Sri Lanka's standard of education may have been commendable decades ago - today the requirement is for more creative and practical approaches to studies.

Children should no longer be molded into bookworms - forced to memorise school curriculums and duplicate teacher notes at examinations. Yet this is exactly what is happening. Students are being forced to memorise their text books and very few teachers want to indulge the child in intellectual dialogue or arouse the child's creativity.

This trend is carried forward to university levels as well, which is why young graduates find themselves in limbo when they start employment. This is completely the opposite to what the commercial world is looking for when seeking suitable employees. They want people who can think, who will approach problems in a different way. but how can children think out of the box when they have been trained to only memorise and duplicate what is in the text books.

English language is another area that the Education Ministry should immediately address. There is no point in introducing English to schools if there are no competent teachers to teach English. If there are no English teachers, appointing any graduate for the post will not do. The Ministry should do well to immediately address the problem by inviting effective and efficient retired teachers or perhaps even inviting teachers from India (Kerala) under the Indo-Lanka Trade Agreement.

The Ministry of Education must realise that they are engaged in imparting education to the children of Sri Lanka to build up a new generation. As such there is urgency to ensure that children of all the schools in the island receive adequate knowledge of the society they live in. Just as history is important for the children to feel a sense of belonging and pride, children need to be told what the labour market is demanding, what their career options are, what areas they can find employment in.

Periodically, the children must be counselled and helped to find out what skills they are good at. With limited subjects available in the course curriculum most students end up taking subjects they are mentally unfit for and which completely upsets their entire career and life. Therefore, they need a lot of guidance to help them decide what subjects they should take up and of course there is a need for appraisal tests - so that the children can discover whether they will fit into a particular area/industry. Many countries are introducing plenty of vocation programmes in their schools to enable children to develop skills that will even help kick-start an entrepreneurial venture as an option.

Sri Lanka needs to waken up to reality. If Sri Lanka is to move forward we need to create a relationship between the country's educational system and the job market - better now than never.

- Shenali Waduge

Singapore Informatics offers exciting engineering degrees

Their endeavour is providing the best for you and achieving the goal of being a prestigious educational institute in Sri Lanka, being an authorised education partner for many reputed international institutions. Singapore Informatics Computer Institute (Pvt) Ltd. is a subsidiary of Informatics Education Ltd, of Singapore which has over 120 branches spread across 32 countries and affiliated with over 40 universities in UK, USA, Canada and Australia. 

Engineering is one of the most demanding disciplines around the world, having the highest employment opportunities anywhere on earth. Also engineering is a well respected profession. For example, in Canada it ranks as one of the public's most trusted professions

By its very nature, engineering is bound with society and human behaviour. Every product or construction used by modern society will have been influenced by engineering design

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Fall 2003 Salary Survey, engineering was one of the most frequent type of jobs offered to new graduates, as well as having the highest starting salary.

An engineering degree is increasingly considered by employers to be an excellent 'general' qualification. Only about 35 per cent of engineering graduates actually take up jobs in manufacturing, with the remaining 65 per cent going into finance, commerce, IT and other fields, such as construction, transport, defense and engineering consultancy.

In Sri Lanka, there is a very high demand for engineering graduates, but unfortunately government universities are unable to cater to that requirement with available resources, as the demand is higher than the supply. And also there are very few private sector institutions which offer engineering qualifications.

Singapore Informatics is one of the pioneers in the industry to offer a engineering qualification, leading to a BEng (Hons).

At present the institute offers the programme in three different levels, namely International Diploma in Engineering, International Advanced Diploma in Engineering, which is available locally,  and the final year which has to be done as an on-campus course. At the moment there are a number of students who have got enrolled at the University of Northrombia (United Kingdom) to complete the Degree in Electronics and Electrical Engineering.

This structure enables local students to earn up to their advanced diploma at a very low cost in Sri Lanka and to complete the final year in an internationally recognised university, which is the University of Northrombia ranked as the 48th Best University for Engineering in the UK.

Both the Diploma and the Advanced Diploma programmes are available as full time as well as part time modules, which will enable those who are already working in the industry to also follow the course without interrupting their career.

The institute is powered by a well qualified panel of lecturers who are from various industrial engineering sectors, enabling the students to get real insights into engineering. Also the institute is equipped with a engineering lab which is available to students  all seven days of the week to do their practicals.

There are no  limitations on practical sessions as the institute encourages its students to work on practicals. In addition the library contains a valuable collection of engineering books for students to both refer and lend.

The programme starts at very basic level and goes on to state of the art technologies giving students the opportunity to gradually adapt to the flow. The course contains not only technical modules, but also general modules of management as well, ranging from Microprocessor Systems and interfacing to Business Management Techniques, which give an insight into the entire business process.

The general entry qualification would be successful completion of local or London A/Levels in science based subjects and a pass from the aptitude test which is given by the institution.

In addition those who desiring to upgrade their other engineering qualification like City & Guilds to the degree level, can join the programme at different levels after an evaluation of their qualifications. Further the institute is planning on an international foundation course to enable the students who have done their A/Level in other streams, than science to also qualify for entry.

Aspirations Education - a leader in career guidance

Higher education is often the first step towards a great career and an exciting future. Broadly speaking education could be termed a lifelong process as there could be no end to one's learning.  This does not mean mere book learning, while educating oneself for the purpose of securing employment has become the main objective of any person.

With the advances made in the recent years greater and newer opportunities have opened up for the present day youth to pursue their favourite courses of study in whatever field or country they prefer.

Most foreign universities and tertiary education institutes have tailor-made courses which are very often career oriented catering to the industry needs in the different fields. With the wide range of options offered, students have the privilege of selecting what is most appropriate for the qualifications they possess. As the medium of instruction in all these centers of learning is English, our students have no difficulty in satisfying their language requirements.

The majority of students and parents are not quite aware of the availability of numerous options which could help them fit into their choice programme of studies. It is the duty of the career guidance councillors to advice and guide them in selecting what suits them most.

Aspirations Education is one such establishment which offers yeoman service to all students who seek their assistance to embark on overseas education.  As a representative of nearly 100 universities and institutes in UK, USA, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand, they are at an advantage of providing the best options in keeping with the students' preferences.  It covers such diverse areas as Engineering, Medicine, IT, Business Management, Architecture, Biotechnology, Psychology, Multi media, Nursing, Fashion Designing, Hospitality and Tourism to name a few.

What's more, with the experience gained over the years and the rapport they have built up with their principals, they are in a position to provide all vital information in detail about courses, visa formalities, living expenses, accommodation facilities, and financial requirements.

However tedious the process may be, each case is taken individually and studied thoroughly with a view to assisting them in the best possible way without leaving any headaches for the students.  What is most striking is that all these services are offered absolutely free of charge having the students' interest at heart.

With the ever increasing number who fail to gain admission to state universities annually (solely due to lack of accommodation) students are compelled to look for alternatives. While some of them opt to follow courses in approved higher educational institutes in the island, those who can afford, find it so convenient to go abroad to continue their studies. 

They invariably enjoy the state-of-the-art facilities provided at these institutes, while the high quality of education, research and cutting edge technology, grooms them for vocational success in their future careers.

Aspirations Education takes great pride in the quality of its services which is never compromised for financial benefits.  Their wholehearted attitude is aimed at fulfilling the aspirations of our younger generation as the name aptly reveals.  Instead of resorting to unethical methods to earn easy money, they believe in discussing ground realities and showing the correct path, students should follow to avail themselves of study opportunities in these foreign countries. 

True to its vision they keep exploring all pathways to utilise the resources available in foreign countries for students to pursue their higher studies. It is needless to say that Aspirations Education  has succeeded in its mission, which is quite evident with the increasing number of students of all communities who come to them even from  far away places. They have earned an unblemished reputation for the invaluable services rendered.

Aspirations Education is headed by its Chairman, Ajith Abeysekera and Managing Director Daphne Abeysekera. For further information about their services  visit the stall at EDEX 2007  National Higher Education and Careers Expo which will be held at the BMICH, Colombo  from January 19  -21 and at Queen's Hotel, Kandy  from January 23-24 .

Lankan student excels

Rakitha Murage has had the distinction of having completed a three year Computer Science and Technology Degree in two years from the University of Sydney. 

Rakitha had his entire education at Stafford International School where he had a brilliant academic career. To obtain a degree from a prestigious university, to which entry alone is difficult, is one achievement and added to that he has completed his Degree within two years.

He has a further distinction to be proud of;  he was placed on the High Honour Roll and Deans' List of Sydney University and was also inducted in to the Golden Key International Honour Society.  Additionally he was a recipient of a Microsoft Research Asia Prize for software development projects in 2005.  After his very first year of university, he was also granted an International Merit Scholarship.

 Rakitha gained admission to the University of Sydney having obtained five straight 'A's at the London A/Level Examination in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Computing.  Edexcel recognised his achievement and offered him a prize of œ 1000 or a fully paid trip to the United Kingdom.

While at Stafford International School he had a record of winning  general proficiency prizes every year in addition to innumerable subject prizes.  He was awarded the Felix R. de Zoysa Memorial Scholarship for the best London O/Level results in 2002 and the Dr. R.L. de Silva Memorial Trophy for the Most Outstanding Student of the year 2004. Rakitha was the Junior Head Prefect and the Senior Head Prefect of the School and was outstanding in sports as well.



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