IHRA aims at making Lanka an education hub by 2020
At present there is much criticism about the higher education system
in Sri Lanka, specially the university system, as a major percentage of
students qualified to enter university are deprived of their chances due
to the huge competition among students to grab that chance in state
Adding to that competition, huge delays in the process of university
admissions make these youth more desperate when completing their
university education and passing out as graduates to lead a better life
with a good employment. Therefore fed up with the system, so many youth
at present are trying their best to pursue their higher education at
their young age without wasting valuable youth life for prolonged
university education and enter the real race in their life at the tail
end of their youth.
The recent proposals by the Vice Chancellors Forum of Universities
and strongly backed by Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake to get
students into the university system at least two years earlier than the
present age of university admission, came as a solution to keep Sri
Lankan youth also on par with the trends in other international
According to Director of the Institute of Human Resource Advancement
(IHRA) of the University of Colombo Dr. Rohan Perera, the institute
established in 1971 under a Government Act, as the Institute of Workers
Education in Sri Lanka, and renamed in 2006 to its present name, is
strongly backing this new trend in higher education as this institution
is also committed to provide the pathway for the youth and other
professional to pursue their higher education in par with newest trend
in the world.
Dr. Rohan Perera
In an interview with the Sunday Observer, Dr. Rohan Perera, said that
as an institution comes under the University of Colombo, they are also
committed to make the government vision of making Sri Lanka an education
hub by 2020, is also committed to clear the pathway for youth to enter
the university system soon after their O/L examination and pursue their
higher education without going through the mill of the traditional
Educating people working in the private and public sectors, who were
unable to enter the university system, in specific subject areas and
enhance their skills to achieve their goals in their respective fields
was the prime objective of the institute when the institute was set up
"With the changing of the name in 2006 as Institute of Human Resource
Advancement we now catere to a wider range of people among the working
community in the country offering many programs to achieve their targets
and dreams in the particular organisation they are working", Dr. Perera
At present the IHRA carries out eight Masters programs such as
Masters in Public Administration, Masters in the Human Resource
Management, Masters in Disaster Management, Masters in Business
Management, Masters in the Service Management, Masters in the Marketing
Management and Masters in the Banking and Finance.
"So we are covering a wider range of organisations and various
programs under the IHRA and at present a student population of 9,200 are
following various courses under our guidance", he said.
The most interesting feature in the IHRA program is the creation of a
career pathway for the youth who have passed their O/Levels to achieve
their goals within a limited span of time to enter the field as
qualified persons in the respective fields.
Those who have just passed the O/Levels can enter the university of
Colombo to follow a certificate course and then follow Diploma course
and then go to the Executive Diploma and follow the Masters Degree
programs offered by the university. "That is the beauty of this
organisation and those who were unable to enter the university system
through the A/Levels can enter the University of Colombo through this
path", Dr. Perera said.
Therefore, although the institute was originally set up for workers
education it has created a pathway to enter the system without any
working experience through certificate programs."Generally we are not
asking for work experience from those who are entering our certificate
programs. But those who enrol into Diploma and Executive Diploma
programs require two years working experience in their particular
field", he said.
Therefore, people in banking and other sectors can join these
programs with two years work experience. The only difference of studying
at IHRA compared to the normal university system is that the students
have to pay for their courses.
"But we are not charging a large amount of money from students. For
example our Masters program is Rs. 200,000 compared to the Rs. 400,000
fee when you follow it at a private university. Therefore, we do it in a
more subsidised rate for all the programs offered by the IHRA", he said.
The other important feature of this program is that people who enter
the Executive Diploma course can change their career pathway.
Those who enter the Executive Diploma in Management program can
change to the medical area. The IHRA opens them to the medical pathway
as well. "Executive Diploma is a multi disciplinary subject. We do not
teach only about the Management but all the subjects and they can move
to other fields also after following the Executive Diploma", he said.
While serving the objective of clearing the pathway for the workers
to achieve the goals in their careers, the IHRA is also ready to fulfil
the much needed workers skills of the country in accordance with the
development needs of the country, since it has flexibility in adopting
new courses into its programs.
"If we go to start a new program in accordance with the requirement
of the country our Academic Director can propose the program and
implement the program within a short time. Therefore, this is the only
institute that caters to the education needs according to the
requirement of the country as other conventional universities have to go
through long procedures. But here we don't have those barriers and
obstructions. If we have a vision we can implement the program according
to the local and global demand", he said.
The Institution's ability to bring experts from the field to carry
out these programs and using Faculty members of the University of
Colombo is also another advantage.
"At the end of the day you are getting a world recognised diploma or
degree from the University of Colombo. So the recognition is there.
That is why we are achieving our goals because we are a partner of
the University of Colombo", Dr. Perera said.
The institute is also targeting financial independence in 2015 as it
generates an average annual income of Rs. 42 million depending on the
Treasury for only 12 percent of the funds after running the institution
with 32 staff and two academic staff while outsourcing the other staff.
"Only the Bachelor of Labour Education degree is funded by Treasury
funds. Other than that all the other programs and the administrative
activities are carried out by funds generated by us. So we are
generating a massive amount of funds and in 2015 this institution will
become a financially independent one.
This is a prime vision for us", Dr. Perera said. Under this setting
there is a huge response from the public towards the programs offered by
the IHRA and many institutions and organisations are establishing
partnerships with the IHRA to conduct new programs to educate the
workers in the respective fields.
"Right now the most demanded courses are the Management courses
because Sri Lanka is a service oriented country and people from the
engineering sciences also follow management courses. Even medical
practitioners come to our MBM programs and HRM programs", he said.
"Very soon we are introducing the Banking and Finance and also the
Masters in Marketing Management according to the demand for those
courses. We hope we can attract many people for these courses", he said.
"To achieve our course we have professional agreements with various
institutions to achieve our targets. Recently we started medical
laboratory science for the Medical Laboratory Technicians since there is
a huge demand for this field. At the same time we started the Disaster
Management courses since Sri Lanka is facing severe disasters and we
must know how to mitigate and prepare for these disasters", he said. "As
a country ranked 107 in the UN Education Index, we should move fast to
achieve the goal of making Sri Lanka an education hub by 2020 in
accordance with the vision of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
If a country like Cuba can surpass a country like the United States
in the education sector, as a country Sri Lanka can also achieve that
target", Dr. Perera said.
"If we can diversify our courses and give opportunities for skilled
persons to pursue their education in their respective fields and to
achieve their goals, we also can achieve the goal of making Sri Lanka an
education hub by 2020 while creating a workforce that matchs the
requirements of the country", he said.
"Therefore as an institute under the University of Colombo, we are
committed to create that environment in this country, enabling the youth
to grab this opportunity to create their career pathway without making
the competitive examinations a barrier for their higher education", Dr.