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LESSONS:

Science and Technology Personnel Development Project

| country: Sri Lanka

1. The project was highly ambitious and complex, involving 16 semi-autonomous institutions, 4 different ministries; and activities that would take time to complete before they would have an impact. Therefore, the implementation period of 5 years was unrealistic. There was little room for flexibility in project implementation; with a longer-term view, and more of ‘process’ approach, the project could have started at a smaller scale and gradually expanded as experience was gained and lessons were learned.

2. One problem that will remain in terms of upgrading the qualification of academic staff is that some staff who go abroad for postgraduate studies, for example to the US or Australia, may not return, since they can there earn in a month what they would earn in a year at a university in Sri Lanka. Since Sri Lanka will need to continue to send science and technology and R&D staff abroad for higher science and technology qualifications, an option may be to send them to universities in the region in the first instance, and only to send them outside if the region cannot provide the required degree,.

3. Underutilization of facilities has been and continues to be a problem in ADB-supported projects. Future projects need to assess carefully the needs and plans for such investments.

4. Gender aspects need more attention and action needs to be taken to increase female enrollment in undergraduate science and technology courses traditionally dominated by men. The obstacles women face undertaking graduate and postgraduate studies need to be analyzed. Support for gender studies, workshops for faculty at institutes, career guidance for women, and opportunities to meet successful female role models should be considered. In the case of the project, provision of a higher number of scholarship awards to females for postgraduate studies was the only input to promote gender equity.

5. Setting up a comprehensive scheme of accreditation, with continuous monitoring and periodic evaluation to maintain standards, is a long process, but a very important one if the required standards in response to global trends are to be maintained. In the case of the project, program quality at the 10 universities varies. The project provided inputs for accreditation of courses. Only a few courses received foreign accreditation, and no attempts were made to establish a local professional body for accreditation.

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