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British Council partners with GoSL on career guidance in schools

The British Council of Sri Lanka announced this week that it continues to strengthen
its longstanding partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka in education and skills
development.

A workshop hosted by the NEC at the Sri Lanka Foundation
Institute addressed the reappraisal of the country’s Career Guidance policy together
with key stakeholders in the field

The British Council has been working for nearly seventy years with the
Government of Sri Lanka across a range of ministries and departments. In 2017,
British Council’s engagement was reframed as its flagship programme
TRANSFORM, as encapsulated under the Memorandum of Understanding with the
Ministry of Education. “Education reform is a major area of focus for government,
with many partners working in the area. We want to make a meaningful contribution,”
says Louise Cowcher, Director Education of the British Council in Sri Lanka. “Asking
ourselves what a strong education system would really look like, who it would cater
to and why, proved to be important in designing a strong programme.”

The answer to these questions was simple but revealing; a strong education system
would create access for all young people to learning opportunities, provided by a fit
for purpose and relevant education system, allowing them to contribute to Sri
Lanka’s economic and social development, while also achieving their full potential
and meeting personal aspirations. To achieve this, TRANSFORM tackles:
professionalization of the education cadre; systemic reform and quality assurance;
the transition from education to employment; research, evaluation and learning; and
effective communication. The programme framework pulls British Council’s extensive
work in the areas of secondary and higher education, skills and English language
teacher education. In 2017, TRANSFORM began delivering on the results area of
professionalization under the Improving Teacher Education in Sri Lanka project in
collaboration with the Ministry of Education. The programme has now turned its
focus on the results area of Transitions, which explores the move from education to
employment.

The Careers Guidance project aims to support the development of a robust system
that will allow young people to make informed choices about their future education
and work, allowing them to contribute to Sri Lanka’s fast-tracked economic growth.
This will certainly help young people gain employment and job satisfaction.

Access to a competent workforce is also a priority for Sri Lanka in fostering private sector led growth, attracting foreign investment and becoming competitive in global markets.
Career guidance is an essential tool that can be embedded in school programmes
and practices, guiding young people to make informed, non-conventional and
eventually profitable choices about their career trajectory after school. TRANSFORM
will engage with all key stakeholders from both government and the private sector to
ensure the formation of a skilled and competent workforce.

British Council has been invited by the National Education Commission which is the
policy making body in all aspects of education in Sri Lanka to collaborate on the
reappraisal of the existing Career Guidance policy. At a meeting convened by NEC
with the support of the British Council on 24 January 2019, key stakeholders were
brought together from a wider range of government departments, education
providers and employers’ representatives to discuss current practices in the
implementation of the career guidance policy, its challenges and possible ways
forward.

Speaking at the event, Dr. G.B. Gunawardena, Vice Chairman (Policy) National
Education Commission said: “The need for a reappraisal of the Career Guidance
Policy at school level demands an analysis of the present policy context and the
situational context to resolve the current issues and concerns that need to be
addressed in updating the current policy. The task of National Education
Commission is to work towards a coordinated effort by all agencies engaged in
Career Guidance Programmes at school level to develop a comprehensive policy on
career guidance at school level.”

Key issues identified by Dr. Gunawardena include the need for strong policy;
effective and systematic organisational structure for implementation; a qualified
cadre of professionals; the role of parents in decision making; co-ordination between
agencies.

The participants represented the major stakeholders in the field of career guidance –
National Career Guidance and Counseling Centre, Ministry of Education, Tertiary
and Vocational Education Commission, National Institute of Education, Department
of Manpower and Employment, National Youth Services Council, National
Apprentice and Industrial Authority, National Youth Corps, Sri Lanka Foundation, Sri
Jayawardenapura University, University of Colombo, The Organization of
Professional Associations of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Institute of Career Guidance,
Assistant Directors of Education, education advisors, principals and teachers of
schools.

Prof. W. I. Siriweera, Chairman, National Education Commission, commented: “The
development of man-power resources required for socio-economic growth is a prime
concern of all governments. The British Council has contributed to the enhancement
of human resources in the fields of General, Vocational and Higher Education in Sri
Lanka. This year, the British Council has embarked on a project related to school-
based career development in Sri Lanka with the collaboration of the National
Education Commission which is the Policy making body in all aspects of education in
our country. As a preliminary step a very successful one-day workshop was held at
the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute bringing most of the stakeholders together on 24th
January.”

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