ADB to Help Improve Technical Education and Vocational Training in Sri Lanka

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB will help develop more highly skilled workers in Sri Lanka through a new US$20 million loan to improve technical education and vocational training (TEVT) in the country.

Building on the results of the ADB-assisted Skills Development Project, the project will raise the quality, relevance, and sustainability of the programs for technicians and technologists by developing standards, upgrading selected colleges, and boosting the capacity of TEVT teachers and personnel.

This will help boost the supply of Sri Lankan technicians, skilled workers, and mid-level professionals, which is falling short of both local and international demand. It will also reduce unemployment, especially among educated youth, which remains high despite a large gap between supply and demand.

"A large number of graduates lack the skills needed for jobs or self-employment. But these youths could be employed in industry if they were trained in relevant technical and vocational skills," says Leah Gutierrez, an ADB Senior Social Sectors Specialist.

In the six technical colleges to be upgraded to colleges of technology, the project will strengthen management and operations systems, develop student selection procedures and 12 new technician program curricula, upgrade facilities and equipment, and impart new skills of their teaching personnel.

It will also strengthen the Ministry of Skills Development, Vocational and Technical Education (MSDVTE) and other relevant institutions to better facilitate and ensure a relevant, quality, and sustainable TEVT in the country.

Last, it will help establish a University of Vocational Technology to address the shortage of technologists and qualified instructors for technical education, and provide an alternative education and career pathway leading to a degree for students and TEVT personnel. The university will offer new degree programs and have various campuses to cater to an expected 900 full-time and 900 part-time students.

ADB's loan, which will cover 75% of the project's total estimated cost of $26.7 million, comes from its concessional Asian Development Fund. The loan carries a 32-year term, including a grace period of 8 years, and an interest rate of 1% per annum during the grace period and 1.5% per annum after.

The Government will shoulder the balance of $6.7 million. MSDVTE is the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion around February 2011.