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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 ‘North-Central Province Association’ 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 professional body.

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 Department.

In October the same year, the first Annual Sessions of the Association were held, inaugurated by its patron, Governor Sir Henry Blake.

In 1956, the Association was reconstituted to become ‘The Institution of Engineers, Ceylon’ and from then on only engineers opted to be its members.

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 ‘Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka’ (IESL). This was later ratified by Parliament by an amendment to the existing Act.

The Institution in 1973, started publishing the quarterly journal ‘Engineer’ and in 1982 commenced the publication of its newsletter ‘IESL News’ whose name was later changed to read as ‘Sri Lanka Engineering News’ (SLEN).

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 Engineering.

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 organised way.

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 presidents.

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 existence.

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 State.

Questions and Answers

Why are Employees of Paint Industries not covered by the Wages Board Ordinance?

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 proved.

(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 revalidated.

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 concession.

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 doctorate

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 University, Spain.

* 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 examination.

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 further assistance.

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 language, FST/searching

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 nine months.

Entry requirements

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 1.

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 librarians.

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.

Job bank

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 “librarian” 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 published material.

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 occupation

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 subject area.

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 - slla@sltnet.lk, slliba@yahoo.com.




Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service

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