To mark 58 years of capacity building partnership between India and Sri Lanka through Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC), High Commission of India in Colombo celebrated ITEC Day 2022 on September 28, 2022.The Hon’ble Dr. Susil Premajayantha, the Sri Lankan Minister of Education, and Mr. Nihal Ranasingha, the Secretary to the Ministry of Education, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and Guest of Honour respectively. The event was attended by over 100 participants, which included ITEC alumni from Sri Lanka, officials and professionals from diverse sectors who have participated in various training courses in India under ITEC programmes.
In his address, the Hon’ble Minister of Education lauded the historically close relations between India and Sri Lanka for more than two thousand years. He appreciated India for the ITEC slots and the annual scholarships offered to Sri Lankan nationals, and thanked India for the financial support extended to Sri Lanka in recent months. The Hon’ble Minister highlighted the scope for further cooperation between India and Sri Lanka in the fields of higher education, skill development, and capacity building, especially from India’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and IT sectors. He also referred to the comprehensive National Education Policy of India and its benefits for students and educators.
Speaking on the occasion, the High Commissioner noted the enormous interest shown by Sri Lankan officials for the ITEC programme over the years. He emphasised the importance of ITEC cooperation and remarked that “sky is the limit” for India-Sri Lanka partnership in education and skills training. High Commissioner highlighted India’s endeavor to help Sri Lanka in the education sector, including in higher education through partnerships between higher education institutes in India and Sri Lanka, besides the current 402 ITEC slots and around 700 scholarships offered every year.
The participants reminisced and shared their experiences of ITEC training in India and appreciated the holistic content of the different ITEC programmes. Prof. (Mrs.) Ilmi Ganga Hewajulige, Additional Director General R&D of Sri Lanka’s Industrial Technology Institute, who had undergone the ITEC training programme on ‘Science, Technology and Innovation Policy’ at the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISC),Bengaluru described the programme as ‘a package of knowledge and experience’. She added that the information gathered on policy drafting and I-STEM were highly informative and the learnings had already been put to use in Sri Lanka as Sri Lanka’s National Science Foundation (NSF) has started a similar concept on I-STEM to have collaboration with the Indian system.
Mr. Rishad Akram Rafi, Manager of Cyber Security & Compliance at Sunshine Holdings Plc., who attended Young Leaders Neighborhood Fellowship Programmeatthe St. Stephen’s college, New Delhi highlighted the lectures and experience hereceived in India in diverse fields ranging from Economics, constitutions, Policy planning, Political science, Healthcare & Law. Mrs. Sasija Gayeshini Silva, Deputy Director of Education, Zonal Education Office at Chilaw, who attended the ITEC course on “Design Thinking Approach for Innovative Organizations” conducted by Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida said that the ITEC trainingmotivated her to work for her motherland with renewed energy.
Ms. Chathurdi Udari Withange, Career Counselor at University of Colombo,who attended the ITEC training programconducted by Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (SVYASA), Bengaluru termed the training as “life changing” experience and mentioned that she will use the training to help others to find their inner peace and happiness through Yoga. The participants also remarked that the training modules were synchronised with modern technologies and were social relevant.
ITEC is a flagship programme of the Government of India launched in September 1964 for extending technical assistance and enhancing capacity building of friendly developing countries. It has emerged as an important vehicle for India’s contribution to human resource development of partner countries with over 200,000 persons from 160 fellow developing countries having participated in the programme. Sri Lanka is currently allotted 402 training slots annually for the ITEC programme. Every year Indian diplomatic Missions celebrate this South-South partnership all over the world as ‘ITEC Day’.