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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Creative education, the way forward

Creative education is the solution to the country's skills mismatch in employment which is a dent on the economy, said Post Graduate Institute of Management (PIM) Acting Director Dr. Ajantha Dharmasiri.

He who reiterated the need for higher educational institutions to focus on innovative education.


Dr. Ajantha Dharmasiri

Skills mismatch has been a persistent problem in private and public sector institutions which grapple to find the right employee for the right position. Skills mismatch is the gap between the educational qualification and the needs of the job market.

Academics and industry professionals said that there is yet a wide mismatch in skills and job needs despite an increase in the number of private sector higher educational institutions in the country. Education should cater to the needs of the workplace. Academic and practical exposure is vital to bridge the gap according to educational experts.

Dr. Dharmasiri said there should be a multiple approach with interaction among academics and private and public institutes to identify and formulate educational courses with future graduate employees and design a program that will reflect the trends in the job market.

He said that unlike in the commerce and science streams in tertiary education there is a huge skills mismatch in the arts stream with graduates being unable to obtain employment to match their qualifications.

The mismatch in the commerce and science streams is minimal as there is exposure to the job needs for graduates in these streams and they could also work outside the stream of study. It is vital to structure education identifying job needs.

The Higher Education Ministry has proposed to review some of the courses to introduce IT skills so that even arts students could qualify in the IT field. The cross stream integration in overseas education enables an arts student to specialise in a science or commerce subject.

“There could be certain practical difficulties in implementing such a system in Sri Lanka but such options which will help bridge the skills mismatch in employment and create a professional workforce through quality education,” Dr. Dharmasiri said.

He said greater integration in education is the future for successful careers. "We need to promote and foster innovation in education." There is lack of emphasis in encouraging students to develop their own products that will suite the needs of the job market.

The future looks bright for 'right brainers' who are more creative, artistic and rhythmic.

It is a discipline that challenges assumptions instead of passively accepting a theory or notion. Education has to be analytical and philosophical.

Innovative ideas and concepts are not promoted, but rather, are suppressed in our education system. Students who do not reproduce the text book answers are not recognised. Education should stimulate creative thinking with a disposition to always ask the question ‘why'.

"Today we need to focus on student-centred learning and outcome-based education. The Ministry of Higher Education emphasises the need for such education which is a sound move to boost innovative approaches of learning," Dr. Dharmasiri said.

The teaching era is no more. It is today a learning facilitation process which allows students to come up with their own presentations by providing inputs.

The PIM is geared to meet the challenges of future higher education needs with its new vision ‘Igniting Human Vision’ and the five-year strategic plan from 2015 to 2019 focuses on innovative teaching methodologies and practices.

"PIM has taken a giant leap to reach the next level of education which is to be the centre of management excellence in South Asia. The Institute has produced over 50 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and top business personalities who head a large number of private and public institutions,” he said. He said that there is less brain drain and instead there is today a reverse trend due to the post-terrorism optimism and promising economic prospects in the country. Many academics and professionals are keen to return to the country and make a salient contribution to boost economic development through quality education.

Many Sri Lankan expatriate hospitality sector workers in the Middle East have returned and joined the local hotel sector. Brain drain as a global phenomena cannot be eliminated completely but only minimised to a certain extent. Many Sri Lankans work as offshore partners to overseas companies. Call centres are classic examples.

Dr. Dharmasiri that that as beneficiaries of free education we should do our duty to the country by contributing to improve educational career guidance of youth who are the future of the country.

 

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