‘Science, Tech Development Bill aims to retain educated human resources’

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa presided when Parliament met at 1.00 pm yesterday. After the presentation of papers and oral questions, the House took up the second reading of Science and Technology Development (Amendment) Bill for debate.

Technology and Atomic Energy Research Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka:

I present the Science and Technology Development (Amendment) Bill to the House. The aim of this bill is to raise the title of the Chief Executive Officers of the Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), National Science Foundation (NSF) and Arthur C Clarke Institute from ‘Director’ to ‘Director General’. From this amendment, we hope to retain educated human resources in these institutions.

The SLSI and National Engineering Research Institute, under the same ministry, have ‘Director General’ posts. Granting the same title to the ITI, NSF and Arthur C Clarke Institute will help make their positions parallel to each other.

Research and Technology are highly important to the progress of a country. Therefore, improving the capacities of these three institutions is a greatly felt need.

Many countries have given key prominence to research and technology sectors, and we have to study new developments in these sectors. Sri Lanka has to face competitions in the market with regard to service and industrial sectors. For that, new research and technology should be encouraged.

We hope to establish a new food laboratory in Malambe to improve our research on food.

Deputy Chairman of Committees Chandrakumar Murugesu takes the chair.

Ajith P Perera (UNP):

We have no objection to the content of this Bill, and we give our support to pass this Bill.

Technological development is essential for the development of the country. Technology must be given prominence in education and industrial sectors. Investment on technology is not enough.

The government must pay attention to increase its allocation for technology and research. Brain drain has affected this field. Knowledgeable and talented human resources hardly retain in the country.

Prime Minister D M Jayaratne:

Science and Technology development is not a duty of the government alone. Many stakeholders should share this responsibility.

Free education thrives in our country. Arts subjects were promoted through free education. Arts subjects are needed to develop human beings spiritually. They make balanced human beings, otherwise Science and Technology can be used to destroy human kind. The government is providing financial and other facilities for research, but it is up to researchers and scientists to use them effectively.

Ajith Mannapperuma (UNP):

Science and Technology contribute to new innovations. There is a shortage of IT teachers in the country. Their salaries are not enough. Salaries must be increased to provide a better IT education for children. The government is not harnessing the best capacity of Minister Champika Ranawaka.

Constantly, substandard oil, cement and drugs are being imported to the country. Is it because we lack technology or technology has been suppressed deliberately?

Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena:

Under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Scientific Affairs Senior Minister Prof Tissa Vitarana had taken measures to develop Science and Technology and Minister Ranawaka has taken measures to extend it.

Sri Lanka had a massive traditional technology. We were the first to make iron in the world. We were leaders in irrigation and in many such fields. But we lost our position with the 1815 agreement. We became a colony of British rulers. Later CWW Kannangara initiated a program to impart Science and Technology to students by introducing Central Colleges.

Now only 22 percent of the A/L students follow the science stream. Twenty seven percent and 51 percent are following commerce and Arts respectively.

However, countries like Japan, Singapore, South Korea were behind us when we obtained independence. But they are far ahead of us.

To trigger development, we have to reform education. So under the leadership of President Rajapaksa, the program that was initiated by CWW Kannangara has given a new lease of life. The technological stream has been introduced to 250 schools.

We have initiated to teach the technology subject at A/Ls by June 15 making a historic change. About 1,000 schools will be introduced the technology subject for A/Ls.

Nalin Bandara (UNP):

We had a king in our history that used an aeroplane. He is king Ravana. Our technology was so vast that it helps carve out massive Buddha Statue such as Aukana statue. Our Irrigation was also the same. The Sampure power plant has an issue. It seems that this is a project designed to get political advantage. It seems that this plant belongs to India and Sri Lanka. Profits go to an Indian company.

Scientific Affairs Senior Minister Prof. Tissa Vitarana:

There is two categories of countries like rich and poor. However, this gap was created with the use of technology. Countries like Korea, Malaysia were for back of Sri Lanka in 1970s. They are richer than us today. However, we are happy today the President has taken measures to make a change.

Centres like the National Science Foundation, Arthur C. Clarke Institute, Industrial Technology Institute have the directors at the highest position. So steps will be taken to introduce the post of Director General to give a recognition to them. Scientists should be given a better recognition. There was a short of research needed to industries in the country and we introduce SLIMTEC in the Biyagama Trade Zone using nanotechnology. We have been able to take seven patents in the USA as well.

We have initiated a program to develop high technology production up to 10 percent of export products by 2015.

We have initiated a project to produce titanium and export finished products rather than exporting raw material. We have to invest in research to achieve these targets. We are investing only 0.2 percent from the GDP on research. We have to increase this ratio gradually. Developed countries use 1 to 2 percent of GDP on research.

Shehan Semasinghe takes the Chair.

Sunil Handunnetti (DNA):

I don’t know as to how the change of the name of the post would affect research or the use of technology and as to how the public would feel it. But there should be a mechanism to use technology in matters related to the public. One such issue was the DCD content of a brand of milk powder.

Another is kidney disease by Asanic content. However, the government has not given any solution to these issues. Answers cannot be found to such issues by changing the highest post from director to Director General of the Arthur C. Clarke Institute, National Science Foundation or Industrial Technology Institute.

Ports and Highways Deputy Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena:

Sri Lanka had been ahead of many countries in various sectors in the past. However, as other speakers pointed out, our attention to science and technology had been insufficient. As a result, some countries which were behind us several years back, have gone a long way passing us. The three decade long war was the main barricade for Sri Lanka to pay enough attention to technology. Now Sri Lanka has gained peace and we can once again concentrate on the progress of the country. Human resources are paramount important for technological development. The leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is a blessing to the country.

Niroshan Perara (UNP):

Technology has led to the development of Sri Lanka civilization. Throughout the history, our ancient people have used technological innovation. Countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Korea made great leaps ahead with the advancement of technology. Those countries are now far ahead of us, and now we are trying to follow them as examples. We have not successfully integrated technology into the public service.

Our public service could have been made more efficient, if technology had been utilized effectively. Even in the education sector, technology should be given priority.

Shantha Bandara (UPFA):

Technology is a key factor to the development of countries. It has both positive and negative impacts. However, technology has become indispensable in the modern world.

The government implemented a series of programs to promote technology in the country. ‘Nenasala’ and ‘Vidatha’ centres have been established covering the entire country.

Moreover, computer laboratories have been setup in many schools.

Technology was introduced as a separate subject steam for A-Ls. Opportunities for higher education in the technology steam have also been widened.

Dr. Harsha de Silva (UNP):

The ‘Nenasala’ project was first started in 2002-2003 as tele-centres.

The concept behind it was global knowledge centres. President Rajapaksa renamed this project as ‘Nenasala’. It was a project under the World Bank.

Mohan P. Silva takes the Chair.

Transport Deputy Minister Rohana Dissanayake:

Dr. Harsha de Silva MP attempted to get the credit of the ‘Nenasala’ project to the UNP. Yes, it is funded by the World Bank, but it is President Rajapaksa who utilized these funds in an effective manner to benefit the country.

Sri Lanka suffered from a 30-year long war. We could not invest reasonable finance for the improvement of technology due to the war. Now this barrier is no more.

Sri Lanka is blessed with a rich ancient history and culture. Our irrigation and construction technologies had been far ahead than those of many countries.

Arundika Fernando (UPFA):

We have just conducted three provincial council elections and the ruling party emerged victorious in two councils. I take this opportunity to thank all who supported the UPFA in the North Western Province.

During the past few years, we have come a long way with regard to technological development.

The fisheries sector has undergone many changes with the integration of new developments in science and technology. Fishing equipment, vessels and security measures have been improved. Today, ICT has advanced rapidly benefiting many generations, born and unborn.

Technology and Atomic Energy Research Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka:

Sunil Handunnetti said that there was no policy in connection with the DCD issue. This DCD was first found 30 years ago. It was used in 2004 in New Zealand. After research, DCD was allowed to use there. Only some farmers used it. In 2012, they suspected that DCD has contaminated land.

The New Zealand government stated after research in July to December 2012 that 20 percent of milk samples contained DCD were from the areas where DCD was used. So if one says DCD was not contained in milk products, it is an utter lie. Some groups and institutions distorted the fact.

The government has maintained the correct stance. Sri Lanka research too proved the same. So nobody can say that Sri Lanka did not have enough facilities. Now New Zealand has ordered not to use DCD. They are not using DCD in their production process.

With regard to the Arsenic, we clearly state that research has proved cadmium contained in soil excessively in particular areas. So we are taking measures to control it.

We use Vidatha centres to spread technological knowledge. We have programs to make inventors entrepreneurs to produce their own invention to put to the market. We are to make a platform in November to bring inventors and investors together to increase the production.

We have brought all the knowledge related to nuclear technology. We assure that none of the Heads of States that participate in the CHOGM will be harmed by nuclear related issues. We know that several leaders had been damaged by radiation in conspiracies. However, we assure that it will not happen in Sri Lanka.

The House was adjourned until 1.00 pm today 

Source Article from http://www.dailynews.lk/political/science-tech-development-bill-aims-retain-educated-human-resources
‘Science, Tech Development Bill aims to retain educated human resources’
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