Hardy’s pristine glory to be restored
The Hardy Advanced Technological Institute (HATI) in the western end
of the Ampara town was a prominent technical education institution in
Sri Lanka that produced advanced skilled engineers demanded by the
country’s economy just after its independence. Although it does not
attract much public attention today, the institute boasts the record of
a glorious era in technical education in Sri Lanka.
Professor Allen Evan
The institute was founded by visionaries who perceived the future
development of the country, in 1950s. HATI could have been an incredible
institution that contributed to the industrial development of the
country, similar to the role played by the Indian Institute of
Technology (IITs) in India, if our policy makers had a clear and
constant policy on technical education.
HATI was established in 1956 parallel to establishment of IITs in
India. The first IIT in Kharagpur was established in 1950 and most of
the other IITs were established in 1950s and 1960s. IITs role in
industrial development in India as well as the contribution of
expatriate IIT graduates in the technological field in western countries
The recent boom in the IT BPO industry in India is backed by IIT
graduates and the first generation of IIT graduates who left the country
and returned with vast knowledge and experience.
In 2003 delivering the keynote speech to the alumini of the first
(IIT) Kharagpur, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates described the IIT as “an
incredible institution with a worldwide impact”.
The history of HATI shows the lack of vision of our policy makers on
technical education and how they have ruined what was started with good
intentions and established on solid foundations.
The institute began as a part of the Gal Oya Irrigation Project, the
first mega multipurpose development project began after independence in
1948. It was called the Technical Education Institute of the Gal Oya
Project. Courses commenced for the first batch of students on January
14, 1956. The institute began a two-year diploma course in agricultural
engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical
engineering and it is very clear that the visionaries clearly recognised
the skills required for the country to move forward with development in
agriculture and industries.
Professor Allen Evan Hardy was the founding director of the institute
and the selection of professor Hardy as the director of the institute in
itself shows the vision of the founders on the level of skills needed by
the country. Prof. Hardy who came to Sri Lanka as an advisor of the
World Food Program worked for the government of Sri Lanka in dry farming
from 1951-1955. His vast knowledge and experience contributed to the
success of the courses launched by the institute.
In 1958 the Colombo Plan recognised
HATI and students from the Asia region enrolled to follow
Hardy had been a professor in agricultural engineering at the
University of Saskatchewan in Canada for over 30 years and had followed
curricular of engineering universities in Western countries. Documents
at the institute show that he had attempted to obtain get City and
Guilds recognition for the engineering courses of the institute.
By 1958 HATI was an internationally recognised institute and in that
year the Colombo Plan has recognised its Regional Technical Training
Institute and students from the Asia region enrolled to follow courses
In 1963 Prof. Hardy passed away at the age of 73 in Ampara and was
cremated at the institute’s premises. The institute was named as Hardy
Advanced Technical Institute as a tribute to him.
In 1961 Sri Lankan engineer Prof.A.N.S.Kulasinghe was appointed as
director and the institute continued its excellence in technical
education under his leadership. During this period students from all
over the country including leading Colombo schools came to follow
courses at HATI.
The first de-track of the administration of the institute started in
1968 when its administration was handed over to the Department of
Education. In the same year the National Diploma in Technology (NDT)
commenced with the collaboration of the University of Moratuwa.
In the 1970s, the second year of the NDT was shifted to the
University of Moratuwa and thereafter the institute was in crisis due to
lack of staff and students. In 1988 the University of Moratuwa withdrew
its collaboration and all engineering courses other than Agriculture
Engineering were abandoned.
In 1994 the institute was handed over to the Ministry of Labour and
Vocational Training with student protests against the decision.
Commission with Prof. Vishva Warnapala as Chairman was appointed to
study the issue. As per recommendations of the commission in 1995 the
Sri Lanka Institute of Advanced Technology Education was established and
administration of the HATI was given to the new institution. In 1997
HATI was handed over to the Ministry of Higher Education and today it
functions as an independent institute under the Ministry.
By 2005 the institute had deteriorated and there were proposals to
close it down, with only 37 students, shortage of qualified staff and
managerial issues. Courses in low skill trades had begun and the
majority of students came to follow these courses.
The adverse impact of the war was another reason for the
deterioration. Ampara was at risk and under security surveillance. There
were over 20 security check points. You had to get off the bus prove
your identity and show your belongings to enter Ampara town during that
time. Getting qualified staff was difficult due to this situation.
Deteriorated roads, lack of public transport and the fear of travel
reduced the number of students attending courses from the surrounding
areas of Ampara.
Although the security situation improved in 2009 the HATI has not
attracted the attention of the Higher Education authorities. In 2007 two
new courses were begun.
The Hardy Advanced
The Higher National diploma in IT and Higher National Diploma in
English. The Higher National Diploma in Accounting began this year.
These courses are important to students who do not have other options in
this remote area.
With funds for tsunami rehabilitation the institute has improved its
infrastructure and renovation of buildings, internal roads and hostels
are now being constructed after 30 years. The number of students has
increased to 315 and the number of academic staffers has increased from
five to 19. However, the institute has not reached its glorious era yet
to provide the quality education it provided 55 years ago. Technical
education authorities must be ashamed over the pathetic situation faced
by the HATI today.
The director of the institute N.M.K.K.Nawarathne said that he is
trying to restart engineering courses. Civil engineering courses can be
started immediately with the existing facilities but to start mechanical
and electrical engineering courses laboratories and infrastructure
facilities should be improved.
He said that collaboration with an engineering institute in a
developed country would bring HATI back to its glorious era and he has
proposed that the Ministry find a new way to develop the institute.
In the 1950s policy makers had a clear vision to recognise what
independent Sri Lanka needed. Today after the end of 30 years war the
policy makers should come with new ideas and recognise what skills the
HATI should be a unique advanced technology institute and not just a
technical college. It is up to the minister of higher education to come
up with innovative ideas and history will judge what he does for the