Labor and Social Protection
It was December 8, 2010, when I boarded a plane after a routine trip to Tunisia. There was nothing out of the ordinary that would have provided a clue as to the dramatic upheaval to come. The taxi drivers rarely spoke of politics, poverty was an untouchable topic of conversation, and YouTube was blocked. However, over the course of that winter, uprisings erupted throughout Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and beyond that called for greater social justice. Investment policies had privileged elites for too long. Social and labor policies had not been that effective at promoting inclusiveness. Each country has since struggled to maintain political stability while addressing demands for improving work and welfare, with mixed results.
Imagine a school that teaches knowledge and provides hands-on training. A place where students express confidence in their skills, and are excited to make a difference in their future jobs. A bastion of confidence and optimism, where 100% of graduating students have jobs lined up before graduation.
Sounds too good to be true? I found this haven at the University of Moratuwa’s Department of Textile and Clothing Technology, supported by the Higher Education for the 21st Century Project (HETC), which is designed to modernize education by its increasing its quality and relevance. 24-year-old Malaka Perera, who is graduating next month, told me how the program has helped him build a foundation for his career. “The program taught me how to deal with people, along with communications and problem solving skills that I used during my internship. As a result, finding a job was quite easy.”
Sri Lankans have enjoyed the benefits of broad education access for decades, which has allowed the country to build human capital to rise and become a middle income country. However, as a country with rising aspirations in an increasingly globalized world and competitive region, the quality and relevance of its education system is key for the country to maintain its edge and reach new heights.