Sri Lanka: Science and Technology Human Resource Development Project
The project will support the government in developing the applied science and technology faculties in four universities to nurture a new breed of technology-oriented graduates equipped with market relevant skills and entrepreneurial spirit. It will address lack of financing for priority degree programs, which are in high demand from students and industry. The project will provide innovative and industry-relevant technology education and research facilities, help quality curriculum design and academic staffing aligned with international standards, and provide competitive grant scheme and capacity development opportunities.
South Asia Department
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|Project Name||Science and Technology Human Resource Development Project|
|Country / Economy||Sri Lanka
|Project Type / Modality of Assistance||Loan
|Source of Funding / Amount||
|Strategic Agendas||Environmentally sustainable growth
Inclusive economic growth
|Drivers of Change||Gender Equity and Mainstreaming
Governance and capacity development
Private sector development
|Sector / Subsector||
Education / Tertiary
|Gender Equity and Mainstreaming||Gender equity|
|Description||The project will support the government in developing the applied science and technology faculties in four universities to nurture a new breed of technology-oriented graduates equipped with market relevant skills and entrepreneurial spirit. It will address lack of financing for priority degree programs, which are in high demand from students and industry. The project will provide innovative and industry-relevant technology education and research facilities, help quality curriculum design and academic staffing aligned with international standards, and provide competitive grant scheme and capacity development opportunities.|
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy||
Sri Lanka has recorded steady economic growth in recent years and will soon become an upper middle-income country, reaching $4,000 gross national income per capita. To achieve higher incomes and better standards of living, the government envisions transforming to a knowledge-based economy by 2025._Investment in human capital is prioritized for economic diversification and enhanced productivity._Sri Lanka ranked 73rd in the Human Development Index, outperforming other lower middle-income countries, and this is attributed to good access to education._Challenges remain in quality of learning, particularly in science, technology, and engineering subjects, as well as relevance to the labor market, especially in the face of rapid technological changes._Higher education plays an instrumental role in producing a future-ready labor force, but Sri Lanka's higher education system is facing several challenges.
Limited access. Higher education opportunities are limited. The gross enrollment rate is 18.9%, which is far lower than that of the upper middle-income country average of 50.7%._Increasing demand for higher education is evident from steep competition for public university admission, the large number of external degree program students, and increasing numbers of students seeking private higher education. Disciplines offered are largely skewed toward liberal arts, social studies, and management, and less than 20% of graduates are from science and engineering subjects. As a result, less than four science, technology, and engineering graduates are available for every 100 age cohort in Sri Lanka, compared with over 15 in Malaysia and 30 in the Republic of Korea. Private higher education is focusing on management and information technology (IT), where capital investment is moderate. The main constraint is high upfront capital investment requirements for higher education in science, technology, and engineering disciplines.
Quality concerns. Research and practical learning in science, technology, and engineering are limited because of lack of laboratory facilities, researchers, and capital investment. Lack of qualified academic staff constrains quality of teaching, learning, and research. There were 5,440 academic staff in 2016, but less than 50% have a doctor of philosophy degree. Recruiting and retaining qualified academic staff is difficult because better working conditions (e.g., salary and organizational culture) exist in the private sector and overseas. The vacancy rate at universities was estimated to be 28% in 2014. The pedagogy should transform from an input-based approach to outcome-based education and student-centered learning to foster critical thinking and problem-solving competencies as well as other modern job market requirements such as entrepreneurship and leadership, teamwork and collaboration, and communication.
Poor relevance to job market. Higher education graduates are not well prepared for jobs as the existing programs fail to equip them with job-relevant skills or competencies. Degree programs are more theory-oriented and lack application or practical use of knowledge and skills. Only 32% of employers in Sri Lanka are satisfied with first-time job seekers from university or other higher education institutions._The job placement rate among state university graduates is poor (66% in 2017), which is largely driven by high unemployment among liberal arts and social science graduates (46%). Job placement rates are high for graduates in IT (92%), engineering (92%), and science (83%). Even among science, technology, and engineering graduates, cognitive and noncognitive skills, such as analytical thinking, problem solving, communications, and teamwork, need further improvement as evidenced in the skills gaps among current industry managers. Flexibility and ability to continuously learn and upgrade skills are the competencies most needed for technology graduates to survive and lead the rapid technological changes.
Gender dimension. Over 60% of undergraduates are female students in Sri Lanka. However, female enrollment is more concentrated in liberal arts and social studies (82.4%) where unemployment is the highest. Gender parity in computer science or IT and technology faculties (50.4% and 45.6% female) is nearly achieved, and around 22.0% of engineering students are female. This is higher than the developed-country average. Encouraging more women to take technology disciplines will increase women's career opportunities in technical areas where wages are high. This would also help challenge stereotypical gender roles in the economy, and increase women's labor market participation in nontraditional areas.
Opportunities in science, technology, and engineering education. Despite impressive employment outcomes, there were only 5,012 admissions for science, technology, and engineering in 2016, which is only 17.2% of total admissions. The main constraint is financing. The government expects that priority economic development initiatives, like the ColomboTrincomalee Economic Corridor, would generate 580,000 incremental jobs in manufacturing between 2020 and 2032, and one of the constraints would be the lack of a skilled workforce. Around 10%15% of such job opportunities would require advanced skills in technology.
Government initiatives. In response to the high demand for a technically-oriented workforce and the need for diversifying pathways for youth, the government introduced the technology stream to secondary education (grades 12 and 13) in 2013. In 2017, more than 28,000 students were enrolled in over 370 schools. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) supported this initiative through its Education Sector Development Program._Since 2015, around 7,000 technology stream students have become qualified for higher education annually. The government selected 11 public universities to open new technology faculties to offer higher education for technology stream students._In 2016, 2,016 students were enrolled. In 2015, the government decided to establish an engineering faculty in the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, in addition to those at the five existing universities. The government has already provided financing to several universities to get the technology programs started, and the World Bank and Abu Dhabi Fund support several universities._The government requested ADB support for four universitiesKelaniya, Rajarata, Sabaragamuwa, and Sri Jayewardenepurawhich lack financing to implement new technology programs and are not supported by other development partners.
Project focus. In addition to very much needed modern facilities and qualified faculty members, these middle-tier universities should introduce new practices in pedagogy, student guidance, and industry linkages. Lessons from previous development partner higher education support indicate that developing new technology faculties in these universities will result in opportunities to demonstrate strong industry linkages, employment focus, and other innovative approaches, avoiding the accumulated inertia of past academic bureaucracy. Such approaches would set examples for other faculties within the universities to follow. A competitive grant scheme will be used to encourage collaborations with industry and international university partners._
Alignment with country strategy. Increasing access to higher education, especially with technology focus and industry demand, is a priority in the government's medium-term development strategy (footnote 3). The project is fully aligned with ADB's country partnership strategy, 20182022 for Sri Lanka, and contributes to pillar 1 (promoting economic diversification and productivity enhancement) by upgrading human capital._The project is included in the country operations business plan 20182020._The project will support the government in preparing a new higher education project proposed for 2021 (output 5).
ADB's value addition. ADB support brings additional value beyond infrastructure by (i) adopting the latest facility design features for technology education, green building, and renewable energy solutions; (ii) supporting climate-proofing design in infrastructure to address vulnerability to climate change risk, especially floods from increased unpredictable precipitation and storm surges; (iii) mobilizing technical experts to support academic program design; (iv) supporting internationally recognized accreditation; and (v) including industry collaboration, international university partnerships, and faculty staff capacity development.
An educated and knowledgeable labor force for accelerated economic growth developed (Higher Education Development Strategy)
|Description of Outcome||
Access to employment-oriented higher technology education improved
|Progress Toward Outcome||The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka brought about challenges and opportunities. Challenges in procurement and difficulty in carrying out day-to-day activities of the universities due to limited movement and work from home arrangement. And opportunities as it also accelerated online education or blended learning among the teachers and students across all universities.|
|Description of Project Outputs||
Innovative technology learning and research environment established
Quality and industry-relevant higher technology education programs implemented
Industry linkages and international collaborations strengthened
Faculty management capacity strengthened
New higher education project preparation supported
|Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)||
Not yet started.
There is no progress on this output. ADB does not commit any projects at this stage but next higher education project pipeline is in 2023 subject to ERD and NPD endorsement. UGC considers that (i) renovation and refurbishment of existing universities, especially for STEM subjects (e.g.,
engineering faculty at Peradeniya University and Moratuwa University as well as all science faculties at all state universities in Sri Lanka), (ii) upgrading five existing institutions into
universities, 5 and (iii) establishing new universities (virtual university, national university for
computer science, city universities) will be critical.
To be determined.
Civil works contract for University of Kelaniya, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, and University of Sri Jayewardenepura have been awarded. As of 1 November 2021, the contract negotiation for RUSL has been done and awaiting contract signing from the service provider side.
All national project management consulting firms have been awarded.
KU has 29 academic staff (59% PhD, 45% female),
SUSL has 19 academic staff (21% PhD, 32% female),
RUSL has 38 academic staff (34% PhD, 50% female),
USJ has 40 academic staff (53% PhD, 28% female).
The target for female proportion is on-track but recruitment of faculty with PhD needs further strengthening. STHRDP supports long-term scholarships for 5 PhDs at KU, 6 PhDs at RUSL and 3 MSc at SUSL to achieve DMF target. Additional 2 PhD will be planned for RUSL and 1 PhD for SUSL under STHRDP support.
SUSL started to develop 4 new curriculum for implementation with the help of international consultants. One short-term training program initiated by SUSL completed.
Smart Agriculture - industry feedback was obtained for the Bio System Technology programme conducted at Rajarata University of Sri Lanka.
Not yet due.
First round of competitive research grant approved 10 industry partnerships (7 for USJ, 1 for RUSL and 2 for KU) exceeding the DMF target.
Two international university partnerships were approved under first round of competitive research grant: (i) KU and University of Wisconsin Madison in USA for building innovative teaching capacity, and (ii) RUSL and Michigan State University in USA for smart agriculture.
|Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects|
|Environmental Aspects||The project is categorized B for environment, as it will involve civil works for faculty buildings with location-specific, time-bound impacts during construction and requiring good waste and waste water management during operation of some laboratories.|
|Involuntary Resettlement||The project is categorized C for involuntary resettlement, as it has no involuntary resettlement impacts.|
|Indigenous Peoples||The project is categorized C for indigenous peoples as the proposed project does not have the potential to directly or indirectly affect the dignity, human rights, livelihood systems, or culture of indigenous peoples.|
|Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation|
|During Project Design||The main stakeholders of the project are the Ministry of Higher Education and Highways, University Grants Commission, Ministry of Science Technology and Research, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, Board of Investments, universities, private education providers, private and public sector employers, university students and their parents. Communities adjacent to the proposed faculties will also benefit from the new business that will be generated from the student influx. Key stakeholders were consulted to identify the nature of the development need, the availability of resources (such as land for infrastructure construction), and partner capacity. Further consultations will be held during project design stage, especially with female and male students, lecturers and education providers, employers, and civil society organizations.|
|During Project Implementation||During project implementation, the main stakeholders of the project are the Ministry of City Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education, University Grants Commission, Ministry of Science Technology and Research, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, Board of Investments, universities (primarily University of Kelaniya, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka and University of Sri Jayewardenepura), private education providers, private and public sector employers, university students and their parents. Communities adjacent to the proposed faculties will also benefit from the new business that will be generated from the student influx.|
|Consulting Services||MHECA will recruit the (i) construction supervision consultant to assist the PMU in reviewing the works contractors detailed designs, monitor construction, and facilitate payments; and (ii) external auditor. Individual consultants will be recruited to support project implementation, including experts on gender, university industry linkages, and quality assurance.|
The procurement plan includes (i) works contracts for faculty buildings; (ii) goods contracts for equipment and furniture for the PMU, PIU offices and faculty buildings at the universities, and vehicles for the PMU and universities; and (iii) services.
Open competitive bidding (OCB) will apply to (i) works and goods contracts valued at least $15 million and $2 million, respectively, with international advertisements; (ii) works contracts valued from $100,001 to $14,999,999, and goods contracts valued from $100,001 and $1,999,999 with national advertisements; and (iii) services estimated above $100,000. Requests for quotations will be sought for works, goods and services valued up to $100,000.
|Responsible ADB Officer||Hayashi, Ryotaro|
|Responsible ADB Department||South Asia Department|
|Responsible ADB Division||Human and Social Development Division, SARD|
Ministry of City Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education (formerly Ministry of Higher Education and Cultural Affairs)
Ministry of Education
|Concept Clearance||17 May 2018|
|Fact Finding||03 May 2018 to 11 May 2018|
|MRM||21 Jun 2018|
|Approval||30 Aug 2018|
|Last Review Mission||-|
|Last PDS Update||08 Dec 2021|
|Approval||Signing Date||Effectivity Date||Closing|
|30 Aug 2018||17 Jan 2019||04 Apr 2019||30 Jun 2024||-||-|
|Financing Plan||Loan Utilization|
|Total (Amount in US$ million)||Date||ADB||Others||Net Percentage|
|Project Cost||103.02||Cumulative Contract Awards|
|ADB||83.02||28 Oct 2022||52.96||0.00||64%|
|Cofinancing||0.00||28 Oct 2022||42.25||0.00||51%|
|Approval||Signing Date||Effectivity Date||Closing|
|30 Aug 2018||17 Jan 2019||04 Apr 2019||30 Jun 2024||-||-|
|Financing Plan||Loan Utilization|
|Total (Amount in US$ million)||Date||ADB||Others||Net Percentage|
|Project Cost||61.98||Cumulative Contract Awards|
|ADB||61.98||28 Oct 2022||12.82||0.00||21%|
|Cofinancing||0.00||28 Oct 2022||11.17||0.00||18%|
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Safeguard documents provided at the time of project/facility approval may also be found in the list of linked documents provided with the Report and Recommendation of the President.
Evaluation Documents See also: Independent Evaluation
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ADB, Universities Sign Agreements to Foster Science and Technology in Sri Lanka's Higher EducationADB and four Sri Lankan universities today signed project agreements totaling $145 million under the ADB funded Science and Technology Human Resources Development project to foster science and technology in Sri Lanka’s higher...
ADB Fostering Science and Technology in Sri Lanka's Higher EducationThe Board of Directors of ADB has approved $145 million in loans to develop new applied science and technology programs in four Sri Lankan universities.
|Contract Title||Approval Number||Contract Date||Contractor | Address||Executing Agency||Total Contract Amount (US$)||Contract Amount Financed by ADB (US$)|
|Establishment of Centre for Nanodevices Fabrication and Characterization (CRG: R2/SB1)||Loan 3699||16 Jun 2022||Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka | Belihuloya 70140, Sri Lanka||Ministry of Education||1,070,000.00||1,070,000.00|
|Design and Construction of Buildings and Infrastructure Facilities for Faculty of Technology, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka (RJ-CW)||Loan 3698||16 Nov 2021||MAGA Engineering (Pvt) Ltd | No. 200, Nawala Road, Narahenpita, Colombo 05||Ministry of Education||14,886,859.87||14,803,606.76|
|Project Management Consultant for Supervision of Design and Construction - Faculty of Engineering, University of Sri Jayewardenepura (PMU-CS39)||Loan 3699||02 Nov 2021||Engineering Consultants (Pvt) Limited | 3, Swarna Place, Nawala Road, Rajagiriya||Ministry of Education||184,639.39||183,946.90|
|Project Management Consultant for Supervision of Design and Construction - Faculty of Technology, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka (PMU-CS37)||Loan 3699||02 Nov 2021||Resources Development Consultants (Pvt) Limited | 55/2-1, Galle Road, Colombo 03||Ministry of Education||267,522.79||266,519.44|
|Project Management Consultant for Supervision of Design and Construction - Faculty of Computing and Technology, University of Kelaniya (PMU-CS36)||Loan 3699||02 Nov 2021||Resources Development Consultants (Pvt) Limited | 55/2-1, Galle Road, Colombo 03||Ministry of Education||283,559.54||282,496.05|
|Project Management Consultant for Supervision of Design and Construction - Faculty of Technology, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka (PMU-CS38)||Loan 3699||02 Nov 2021||Resources Development Consultants (Pvt) Limited | 55-2/1, Galle Road, Colombo 03||Ministry of Education||322,753.62||321,543.13|
|Master Training Program for 4 Universities||Loan 3699||09 Aug 2021||Various | Various||Ministry of Education||1,407,935.00||1,405,256.57|
|DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION OF BUILDINGS & INFRASTRUCTRE FACILITIES FOR FACULTY OF ENG'G, USJ (SJ-CW)||Loan 3698||25 Jan 2021||SANKEN CONSTRUCTION PVT. LTD. | NO 295, MADAMPITIYA ROAD, COLOMBO 14 SRI LANKA||Min. of Higher Education,Technology & Innovations||18,684,408.11||18,684,408.11|
|DESIGN &CONSTRUCTION OF BUILDINGS & INFRASTRUCTURE FACILITIES FOR FACULTY OF TECHNOLOGY, SUSL (SB-CW)||Loan 3698||10 Dec 2020||INTERNATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CONSORTIUM PVT LTD | NO. 70, S. DE S. JAYASIGNHE MAWATHA, KOHUWALA, NUGEGODA SRI LANKA||Min. of Higher Education,Technology & Innovations||11,098,656.47||11,033,858.83|
|DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF BUILDING AND INFRA FACILITIES FOR FCT, UNIV OF KELANIYA (KE-CW)||Loan 3698||20 Oct 2020||MAGA-ICC JOINT VENTURE | 70,S.DE.S.JAYASINGHE MAWATHA, KOHUWALA, NUGEGODA SRI LANKA||Min. of Higher Education,Technology & Innovations||23,660,478.76||23,660,478.76|
|Title||Document Type||Document Date|
|Science and Technology Human Resource Development Project: Procurement Plan||Procurement Plans||Apr 2022|