It is appropriate for me to seize this opportunity to speak a couple of words on the need to expand Technical Education in the country. In Sri Lanka, technical education began in the 1890s with the establishment of the Colombo Technical College, which, as Government Department, functioned to cater to certain requirements of such Government Departments as Public Works, Railways and Irrigation. Technical Education, because of this limited focus, did not expand in the colonial period; it was after independence an attempt was made to start engineering courses. With the establishment of the University of Ceylon, an Engineering Degree course was started. In the sixties, a network of Technical Colleges came into existence but they taught only trade and craft courses. What the country needed was an Institute which could career to the middle level needs in the field of technical knowledge. Such middle level technical know-how was necessary for the country to undertake development; industry was expanding and new development corporations came into being, and such institutions, in addition to engineers, wanted middle level technical expertise.
Since there was no organization to produce such men, the Government of the day wanted us to examine the possibility of setting up a Technological Institute which is capable of producing middle level technicians in areas relevant to development. Ampara Hardy Institute, German Technical Institute and the HNDE courses have become popular, and they produced employable technicians who found employment. It was in this background that we established the Sri Lanka Institute of Advanced Technological Education (SLIATE) which is now emerging as a centre of excellence in the area of Technological Studies in the country, and its provincial centres have become attractive centres of learning. All students, who pass the Advanced Level examination cannot enter the Universities, and they need to be given opportunities in the field...
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