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IT sector posers

THE asking rate is 5000 more Lankan IT professionals by 2011. Is Sri Lanka ready to meet this need? This is the issue that needs to be addressed by the State agencies and other sections handling IT-related matters in this country.

The clichetic sentiment that the world "has gone IT" need not be repeated here for the urgency of this issue to be driven home.

The crux of the matter is that modern living is impossible without a knowledge of and expertise in IT. In fact, IT technology and its products are in a most fluid state of change and even today's IT equipment may be highly obsolete tomorrow.

Office environments in this respect are changing by the day the world over and Sri Lanka would look pathetically helpless if it does not provide for itself the necessary IT expertise, qualitatively and quantitatively.

These thoughts arise in us on reading the lead story in our business pages yesterday which quoted the General Manager, Virtusa, Madu Ratnayake as telling a press briefing that 5000 more IT professionals would be needed annually locally to meet our shortfall in IT expertise. If this need is met a 20 percent growth could be gained in the local IT sector.

Ironically, the need for IT expertise is realised at the lower levels of the local educational structure, such as primary and secondary schools, but not to the desired extent at the tertiary educational level.

By saying this we do not mean that the entirety of our primary and secondary schools are endowed with the necessary capacity and expertise to impart an IT education to their wards. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

A vast number of our primary and secondary schools, particularly those in the provinces, are yet to be empowered in this respect. Nevertheless, some effort is being made at these levels to address the need for an IT-based education.

However, turning out IT professionals as such is an entirely different matter. It is only graduate and post-graduate programmes in IT education which could meet this great shortfall and the institutions which could meet it are universities and related tertiary education institutes.

Therefore, what is basically needed are such seats of learning which would not only be a spur to the development of IT expertise but also help in absorbing the aspirants to a higher learning who are left out of the existing universities for no fault of theirs.

Taking Sri Lanka well into the 21st century has been the dream of successive governments. If our success is to be measured in this endeavour in terms of the number of IT literate persons the country produces, then, much is left to be desired.

We are well short of the recognized targets. Accordingly, much and bold forward planning is necessary. Economic development is not possible without a productive and resourceful labour force and the latter cannot be achieved without a degree of IT literacy.

The level of sophistication achieved by modern processes of production is attributable to a great degree to the use of IT in them.

Accordingly, productivity is unthinkable without IT literacy. So, we urge the educational and related authorities to put their thinking caps on. They need to think "out of the box" before our brain drain could do us greater harm.

As pointed out by British High Commissioner Dominick Chillcott, too many young Lankans are drifting outside our shores in search of work that excites and interests them. The rot could be stemmed if our work environments manage to engage their energies.

Ethical values in a changing village

WITH the dawn of a new century and a new millennium, we are becoming more concerned about what is in store for us in the future. Social scientists predict that globalisation will ultimately take us to a new village, a Global Village with new hopes and aspirations.

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Lost Horizons

Ajith Samaranayake - the end of an era

THE announcement last week of Ajith Samaranayake's death took me by surprise, and created a great sense of melancholia. Oddly enough, knowing nothing of the illness, I had been thinking of him the night before, when I was looking through a copy of the first New Lankan Review, the journal I had begun in 1983.

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Defence Column

South East Asia no more a haven for LTTE gun-running

LTTE Leader V. Prabhakaran made his annual speech on November 27. Unlike President Rajapaksa who celebrated his first anniversary of Presidency with his people, Prabhakaran had to deliver his speech confined to his jungle hideout in the Wanni.

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