Digitalization – A way forward for the Education System in Sri Lanka
Posted on November 22nd, 2020

Aloysius Hettiarachchi.

Perspective from a Civil and Structural Engineer

The writer is a graduate of University of Peradeniya, which was constructed during the colonial period and opened by HRH prince Philip, the queen’s husband, ‘to be more open than usual’ in the early 50s. The Engineering Faculty that was established there was of the same standard as world leading universities like Cambridge, following same courses. Those who passed out and gained scholarships these universities did very well topping the batches. Moratuwa Technical College also became an Engineering Faculty in early 70s.These universities together with others now attract the top scorers of A’ Levels and are churning out engineers more than what is required for the country. Majority of top scorers in Engineering select Civil courses instead of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering which are more relevant to today’s needs. Most of them become managers in public or private sector. I believe this is a waste of talents as they are not able to contribute much for the country in this digital age.

When we look at South Korea and Vietnam we see that they have achieved high level of development and growth rates not through so much of expenditure on education but by letting their entrepreneurs engage in digital technology and manufacture. I believe we should do the same without wasting our meagre resources and producing jobless graduates who become a burden on the government after they pass out. The introduction to digital technology, particularly the wiring up of electronic circuits should be started in the secondary school level itself. The world is entering into a new realm of automation and our youths should be trained to be at the forefront.

 I give below some videos that explain the current situation and the direction in which the digital technology is moving. The organizations like BBC that introduced the BBC Micro in 80s to their schools (and to other anglophone countries) prompted the birth of businesses like ARM and are now promoting a new technology, which is a new way of computing using an open source architecture in the CPUs. I think we too should join them and get our students to build the machines of the future. I tried to get our university guys to work on these about four years ago by writing to them without any success. And we do not hear any of the academics in them talking about these new developments( like RISC-V etc)  If a thirteen year old boy can understand the technology and build his computer by wiring up the RISC-V chip, as can be seen from the third video down below, why not we get our secondary school students also involved in similar projects?.  The GOSL should encourage these academics to get involved or initiate similar projects without further delay.

Please view these videos if time permits. The first one is from a Sri Lankan and the comments there on shows how enthusiastic the local young ones are.

https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/business/nvidia-ceo-jensen-huang-s-message-to-cambridge-about-his-plans-for-arm-9130688/The

https://www.theregister.com/2020/11/19/bbc_doctor_who_sifive/

One Response to “Digitalization – A way forward for the Education System in Sri Lanka”

  1. aloy Says:

    Sorry, I could not give a note of warning about the privacy thing in the second video by Cambridge. There is increasing level of accusations against Apple and Android (Google) for collecting not only the info about the phone users but others around us which they can use for anything in these times of AI.

    Also please listen to Elon Musk who says “don’t give a damn about a degree” According to him what is required is to have a drive to do big things. And the training to do the problem solving is important.

    Please listen to him in this video:

    https://youtu.be/CQbKctnnA-Y

    The lady who figured out the design for the RISC architecture of ARM did the solution to the first problem given to her when she was working as a trainee in that company (Acorn). Their stories would encourage and motivate the students to do big things. I used to come out with such stories in Project Technical meetings overseas. And at times uni professors and lecturers also would attend with their students.

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