IESL steps in to its second century
Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka, a member of the
Organisation of Professional Associations:
In 1904, 19 senior state officers working in and around the historic
city of Anuradhapura in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, then
Ceylon, set up an association by the name âNorth-Central Province
Associationâ to discuss and deliberate on work related issues of common
interest to all of them.
Its members, most of whom were engineers met monthly in Anuradhapura
and exchanged ideas amongst each other. F. A. Cooper, the Director of
Public Works at the time, who happened to attend one of the meetings
whilst on circuit in the area got so impressed with the work of the
association, that upon his return to Colombo, he succeeded in persuading
the engineers in Colombo and other outstations to form a similar
This thereafter led to the formation of the Engineering Association
of Ceylon in 1906 whose objective was to acquire and facilitate the
acquisition of technical knowledge.
At its inauguration on January 6, 1906 held in the Legislative
Council Chambers of the country and presided by the then Governor of
Ceylon, Sir Henry Blake, F. A. Cooper was appointed as the first
President. The Governor was made its patron, a practice followed to date
in that the Head of State functions as the patron of the Institution.
The Association which initially had only 77 members was open to
engineers as well as members from related professions and was framed on
the same lines as the professional engineering organisations in the UK
which by then were firmly established. Its office was set up in a small
building behind Transworks House, the head office of the Public Works
In October the same year, the first Annual Sessions of the
Association were held, inaugurated by its patron, Governor Sir Henry
In 1956, the Association was reconstituted to become âThe Institution
of Engineers, Ceylonâ and from then on only engineers opted to be its
The institution obtained the membership of the Commonwealth
Engineering Conference in 1958 and in 1968 it was admitted to be a
member of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations.
The same year, the Institution was incorporated by an Act of
Parliament. Some of the new objectives of the reconstituted body were
the setting up of standards of practice and conduct, the encouragement
of research and study and publication, and the promotion of professional
and social welfare of its members.
With free education introduced in the country after it gained
independence from Britain in 1948, it became increasingly necessary to
provide an opportunity to those who could not gain admission to the
universities to study engineering.
With this in mind, the Institution commenced in 1968 an engineering
degree equivalent course in two parts on the same lines as those
conducted by the Engineering Council, UK.
In 1971, the Institution introduced a Professional Review scheme to
select Corporate Members and the Professional Examination, was started.
The Corporate Membership of the Institution was later given national
recognition by making it a mandatory requirement for the engineers who
join the public sector to get promotions.
In 1972, with the country becoming a Republic, the name of the
institution was also changed to read as the âInstitution of Engineers,
Sri Lankaâ (IESL). This was later ratified by Parliament by an amendment
to the existing Act.
The Institution in 1973, started publishing the quarterly journal
âEngineerâ and in 1982 commenced the publication of its newsletter âIESL
Newsâ whose name was later changed to read as âSri Lanka Engineering
With the increasing work quantum, a larger building to house the
Institution became a necessity and in 1975, the headquarters of the
Institution was shifted to its present location. The building housing
the office was facilitated through a loan provided by the Government. A
new extension was added to it in 1981.
During the session 1977-1978, Benevolent Fund was set up to provide
financial assistance to members and their families in need. In the
subsequent session the By-laws were revived and Sectional Committees
were set up to promote learned society activities in the three main
disciplines - Civil, Mechanical and Electrical.
The number of Sectional Committees was later expanded to accommodate
the emerging disciplines such as Chemical, Information Technology,
Building Services, Engineering and Agriculture and Plantation
Later Standing Committees such as Finance and Administration,
Education and Training, Membership Development and Professional Affairs,
Library, Publications, Publicity and Conference were also set up to
facilitate the activities of the Institution in a more progressive and
With the gradual industrialisation of the country, the needs to bring
about a better rapport and understanding between the universities and
the industry becoming important a University Liaison Committee was
formed in 1981.
The Institution has been headed by eminent engineers over the years.
Late Engineer B. D. Rampala, late Engineer Professor R. H. Paul, late
Desabandu Engineer Doctor A. N. S. Kulasinghe were among these past
These engineers contributed immensely to the advancement of
engineering and technology in Sri Lanka which brought about a
considerable improvement in our quality of life.
Late Engineer D. J. Wimalasurendra who is widely known as the pioneer
of hydro electric power and late Engineer Professor E. O. E. Pereira who
is regarded as the Father of Engineering Education had also been members
of the Institution. Since 1981, the Institution has been organising
memorial lectures to commemorate the birth anniversaries of some of
these eminent members who have served the country.
The government started setting up large scale development projects in
rural areas in the country outside the Western Province with a change in
policy in 1977 and the engineers too had to move out from Colombo and
work in these projects in outstations.
The Provincial Centres became a reality thereafter when the
Institution set up its first Provincial Centre in Kandy in 1982. In
years to follow centres were established in other provinces as well with
the total number of centres at present standing at 8.
The Techno exhibition, a technical and industrial exhibition was
commenced in 1985 as a mode of facilitating better interaction and
rapport between the industry and the general public. In 1987, the Junior
Inventor of the Year competition was started among the schoolchildren to
foster their innovative and creative ideas. These two events are held
annually upto date uninterrupted.
The present membership of the Institution is around 9,000. With a
vision of becoming the centre of excellence and leadership in the fields
of Engineering and Technology in the sustainable and efficient
management of resources towards improving the quality of life of the
people, the Institution is now looking forward to its second century of
It is gearing itself to play in the years to come a significant role
in the affairs of the profession and in the policy making process of the
Questions and Answers
Why are Employees of Paint Industries not covered by the Wages Board
Question: There are over 15,000 workers employed in the Paint
Industry in Sri Lanka. However, the Ministry of Labour has still not
recognised the workers in this Industry by setting up of a Wages Board.
The employees are at the mercy of the industrialists as there are no
proper salary scales.
Are there any legal hindrances for the establishment of a Wages Board
for this industry which is fast developing in Sri Lanka.
Will the Commissioner of Labour take any steps to establish a Wages
Board and streamline the wages payable to employees?
Answers: The Department of Labour informs that the Paint
Industry and some other similar industries have developed during the
last few years and they have identified these industries to come under
Wages Board Ordinance.
As there are legal problems to be sorted out before implementing the
Wages Boards, the Labour Department is presently in the process of
attending to these matters. However, if there are any problems for the
employees they may contact the Deputy Commissioner of Labour (Wages
Boards) Dept. of Labour, Narahenpita, Colombo 5.
Minimum Wage for Pre-School Service Trade
Question: Reference the notice in the Daily News of 17th May
2007 on the above and the questions and answer in the Daily News OPA
page of 14th June.
I am a pre-school teacher employed in a pre-school located in the
Municipality area of Gampaha. There are 58 children in the school and
there are three teachers, the owner as the head teacher and two of us
fully qualified teachers employed by her. At the moment we are paid a
salary of Rs. 3,000 per month.
According to the above notice the minimum wage for a preschool
teacher in a Municipality area is Rs. 5,575 per month.
Is this applicable to all pre-schools irrespective of the size or the
amount collected as fees from the children? If so have we the right to
demand that salary?
And if we are not given that salary what can we do about it?
Answers: Any pre school should have a teacher or an Asst.
Teacher for every 20 children according to the Education Department.
Thus there has to be three teachers or Asst. Teachers which requirement
has been met by your pre-school.
According to the wages Board Ordinance only a teacher is entitled to
Rs. 5,575 and the Asst. Teacher Rs. 4,137.50. Your disadvantage is that
the owner as you have stated may call herself or himself as the teacher
and both of you as Asst. Teachers. In which case you will be entitled to
only Rs. 4,137.50 and not Rs. 5,575.
Until and unless the owner claims so you can refer to yourself as a
teacher and claim Rs. 55,575, the worse case being you will get at least
for Rs. 4,137.50. You have every right to demand the salary as per the
Daily News notice of 17th May 2007.
If the response is not positive you can complain to the Municipal
Commissioner for Gampaha as well as to the Deputy Commissioner-Wages
Board, Department of Labour. The fees collected have no relevance to the
Wages Board direction.
Are teachers entitled to No-Pay Leave for assignments abroad?
Question: I am a teacher with 17 years of service in the
Government sector and I intend to go abroad on a teaching appointment
for a period of three years. Can I obtain no-pay leave, as I have
obtained a housing loan?
Answer: If you are on the permanent staff of a school you can
obtain three years no pay leave if the following conditions can be
(i) That you have been confirmed as a permanent teacher.
(ii) Evidence to prove that you have received a confirmed contract of
service in a foreign country for a period of three years.
Leave of Teachers coming under the Provincial Councils have to be
approved by the Secretary of the Provincial Council and those of
national schools by the Secretary to Ministry of Education.
Issue of Car Permit with duty concession to Government Officers
Question: I am a retired Government staff officer who was eligible
for the above facility up to the time of my retirement in August 2006.
This rare facility for Government staff officers was granted by the
budget proposal of 2005 which should have been effective from April
2006, while I was in Government service.
However, the issue of permits got delayed due to various reasons.
Finally permits were issued with effect from April 2007.
I would like to know whether I am eligible for the permit as I was in
active service at the time this was approved in the budget proposal in
2005. If not I would also like to know whether the permit issued in 1999
(which was suspended suddenly) which I still have with me could be
Answer: You have not stated whether you were using or are
entitled to an official car at the time of your retirement. In which
case you are given the choice of purchasing the car that you were using
at a concessional price or for a permit to import/buy a car with duty
Assuming that you were not in that grade at the time of your
retirement, then you are not entitled to a permit if you have retired
before April 2007. The permit issued in 1999 stands cancelled and you
have to consider yourself unfortunate for retiring before April 2007.
For any further clarification you may contact the Trade and Tariff
Section of the Department of Treasury Operations.
Can a ruling by Labour Commissioner be over-ruled by Provincial
Commissioner of Co-operatives
Question: The Asst. Commissioner of Labour gave a ruling to
the Co-operative Society of which I am an employee to grant the salary
increase given under the Budgetary Relief Act No. 36 of 2005 with effect
from August 2005. However, the Co-op Society obtained another ruling
from the Provincial
Commissioner of Co-operatives to grant the relief only from 1st
January, 2006. The Co-op Society has implemented the ruling given by the
Commissioner of Co-operatives thus depriving the employees of five
months salary increase.
Whose instructions should the Co-op Society follow?
Answer: The Commissioner of Labour is the final authority to
decide on the wages prescribed by the Wages Ordinance Board. The
budgetary allowance given has been approved by an Act.
The Commissioner of Co-operatives does not have the authority to
decide on wages of employees according to the Department of Labour. You
may please refer your problem to the Asst. Commissioner of Labour who
gave the earlier ruling.
Confirmation on Belford and Ashwood Universities (USA) for on line
Question: Presently I am working as the Assistant Branch
Manager in a commercial bank for the past 13 years. The following
professional qualifications have been obtained by me.
* MBA - Distance learning programme through Trinity College and
* CBA - Chartered Business Administrator - Canada.
* Senior Associate Member of Finsia - Australia.
* AIB - Institute of Bankers Sri Lanka.
Presently Trinity College and University where I got my MBA has
directed me to the above mentioned universities in the USA (option) to
carry out my Doctorate in Banking and Financial Services by on-line
Hence please be kind enough to help me know the acceptability of the
above universities doctorate in Sri Lanka.
I wrote to a few bodies regarding the above and have not got any
reply to-date, therefore I urge for your advice on my request.
Answer: First of all have you checked whether Trinity College
and the University of Spain from where you obtained your MBA is
recognised, because the Belford and Ashwood Universities (USA)
recommended by them are not accredited universities in USA. Therefore,
Sri Lanka will not recognise a doctorate from these universities. You
can contact the Librarian, US Centre on telephone - 2498000 for any
Have an interesting and fulfilling career as a modern librarian
(Continued from last week)
This course will run parallel to the regular course and the syllabus
is the same. The certificate will be the same as for the regular course.
Apart from lecture notes and on-line instruction we conduct practical
training, study tours and assignments and project work. We have plans to
re-introduce our on-line course in Maldives where we conducted our
postal course till 1996.
Certificate On Library Automation (COLA)
We have this special course on computer application conducted
annually with computerized information retrieval and dissemination as
the main components. The course comprise of five modules including
database management using CDS/ISIS (WINISIS).
The Modules are:
Module A - Introduction to ICT - Basics on ICT and introduction to
computer systems, hardware, software and networks
Module B - Introduction to office automation - Introduction to
Windows, basic and advanced courses on Word and Excel and PowerPoint
Module C - WINISIS database creation, data entry, editing, formatting
Module D - WINISIS - Advanced - Password parameters, hyper-linking,
data exchange, sorting & printing
Module E - Electronic Librarianship - Internet service, basis web
designing, publishing and maintenance
Module F - Project - Development of multimedia WINISIS data base.
We aspire to enhance the IT skills of our professionals by providing
this course in addition to the regular course.
The library automation course is conducted in English medium only and
is held at the SLLA computer room on Saturdays. The course duration is
Any practising library and information professional with background
knowledge in using computers can follow this course.
Our students are expected to have at least 3 years work experience by
the time he/she passes the final exam. If a student is not employed, the
association arranges a two week basic training in a library at the Level
Subsequently we conduct many workshops, seminars and conferences in
respective areas like, special libraries, national libraries, school
libraries etc. to upkeep continuing professional development of our
Our collective initiative is the annual national conference on
Library and Information Studies where we offer opportunities for our up
and coming as well as veteran professional to present their views,
thoughts assumptions, theories and to have interactive discussions.
We maintain a job bank for our members and students. Many
organizations contact us when librarians are needed and we forward the
bio data stored in our job bank. We would like if more students join our
English stream as there are jobs available in the private sector
libraries where a knowledge in English is a requirement.
Your career and your future as a librarian
In this world of information explosion the designation âlibrarianâ
seems to have lost its position. With IT taking over some areas in
library science, we find our subject area being invaded by IT which has
forced us to change our syllabi, teaching methods, duties, designations
etc. which has opened many a new position in our field.
Usually in our profession there is a division in the type of library
that one can specialize in with services extended to the users and
duties of the staff differ.
Academic librarian: University librarians. Information is retrieved
and disseminated at a very high and in-depth level.
Special Librarian: Tea Research Institute, Institute of Industrial
Technology, Centre for Development Information, Centre for Humanitarian
Agencies etc. In a special library information is treated at a very high
level and limited to a specific area.
School Librarian: Those who manage school libraries, Retrieval and
dissemination at a basic level with much outreach activities.
Public Librarian: Dissemination and retrieval at general level with a
high out reach activity level.
National Librarian: National, Museum and archives librarians.
National library belongs to an international network of libraries and
these libraries act as deposit libraries and conserve and preserve
Usually most of the collections in these libraries are in closed
areas (the users are not allowed to go to the shelf but the required
book will be located and handed over to the user over a counter by the
library staff) and are available for reference only.
How you can develop your career as a librarian or any other relevant
Once you become a full fledged librarian it is very important that
you update yourself with the developments in the profession as this
profession is changing quickly with the absorption of IT into the
You must be skilled in management, accounting, human resource
management etc. and we organise workshops, seminars, our annual
conference - NACLIS, offer opportunities abroad for training and
participation in conferences, seminars workshops etc.
You can obtain further information from our office at 275/75 Stanley
Wijesundara Mawatha, Colombo 7, Tel. & Fax. 2589103, email - [email protected],