President launches Public Learning and Education Platform for the Sri Lankan Youth

  • Sri Lanka is urged to advance in digitalization as part of its new economic transformation agenda- President.

The landmark event, the official launch of the Public Learn Education Platform for the Sri Lankan youth community took place yesterday (13) at the Chamber Hall of the Presidential Secretariat, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Public Learn is a platform that guides users to free courses from the world’s top universities. Operated by Regent Global, it has been funded by the Sri Lankan diaspora in the UK to bring this resource to Sri Lanka.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe officially launched a new education platform aimed at transforming Sri Lanka’s learning landscape.

Emphasizing the importance of adapting to a knowledge-intensive society, the President highlighted Sri Lanka’s strong educational results despite various systemic flaws. He noted that the new platform would enhance the education system’s effectiveness and stressed that Sri Lanka must swiftly advance in digitization to drive the new economic transformation.

He further underscored the necessity of an economic transformation bill, which requires a shift in thinking., he said, is an essential tool for achieving this goal by providing more post-school learning opportunities without traditional classroom constraints. This digital platform can also help address the shortage of skilled, experienced teachers within classrooms and pave the way for many Sri Lankans to advance and transform the country.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted that the Public Learn platform serves as a crucial tool for enabling many Sri Lankans to advance personally and transform their nation. He reflected on Sri Lanka’s historical learning journey in three phases: first, during the era of Arahath Mahinda and the Pirivena system; second, with the introduction of the British public school system; and now, with the advent of digital education platforms like Public Learn, marking the third phase. He emphasized the importance of leveraging digital technology and knowledge to propel Sri Lanka forward in the digital economy, underscoring the need for continuous adaptation and innovation.

The President expressed gratitude to Dr. Selva Pankaj and Regent Global for extending this opportunity to benefit the Sri Lankan people.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his additional remarks, stated,

“I must first and foremost thank Dr. Selva Pankaj for the gift he has given Sri Lanka. I call this reconciliation. We are living in a knowledge-intensive society. In such a society, if we are to get ahead, we should also join the race and certainly emerge as top players. That is not difficult for Sri Lanka; I think our education results are good.

Whatever the faults of the education system, there are many, but we have still delivered. Now, this will help us make better use of the education system. In fact, Sir Gavin described so well the objectives of such a program on this platform.

In any case, the economic transformation bill requires a transformation of our thinking. This certainly is one of the instruments by which we can achieve that. We must also get used to the fact that there will be more and more post-school learning opportunities without classrooms and without walls. This is what we are doing, and even within classrooms, we can also overcome our shortage of skilled experienced teachers.

So, this is certainly an instrument that paves the way for a large number of Sri Lankans to get ahead in life and transform their country.

We have been good at learning, and our learning has gone through three phases. First, when Arahath Mahinda brought Buddhism, and with it came the Pirivena. Senarath Paranawithana said those who fail to become Arahaths spent their time designing the canals, the dagabas, Sigiriya, and the other buildings we have, as well as contributing to the health system.

Secondly, when the British came and started the public school system. Now, that system has spread across the country; it’s what we call Mahavidyalayas, Madhya Mahavidyalaya, more than that, what we call prestigious and national schools. The whole system has come here, and again, we have adapted ourselves to learning just as much as we did two hundred years ago.

The third stage of learning has come; we learned the system, we learned English, we moved ahead, and now we have the third stage of learning, which is the use of knowledge on an open platform that digitizes the education system. We are looking at a digital economy, looking at using the latest knowledge because Sri Lanka can only get ahead if we use our heads and think. And certainly, what we call reprogram.”

The event also featured a virtual address by Sir Gavin Williamson, Former Secretary of State for Education in the United Kingdom, who commended the initiative of the President’s enlightened vision of prioritizing education, highlighting that this effort goes beyond benefiting individuals; it is about reaping the long-term harvest for the nation. The initiative aims to provide broad access and accessibility to education for all ages, recognizing that in a global and competitive world, a skilled and educated populace is crucial.

The platform is expected to be a cornerstone of President Wickremesinghe’s legacy, making significant impacts on people’s lives and the future of Sri Lanka. By fostering a wealth of talent necessary for global competition, the initiative seeks to transform lives in ways that were unimaginable a generation ago.

Acknowledging the President’s vision and willingness to invest in new ideas, Sir Williamson expressed gratitude for the opportunities being provided across Sri Lanka.

Chief Executive Officer of Regent Global Dr. Selva Pankaj expressed gratitude for President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s support of the program aimed at fostering a new economic transformation in Sri Lanka. Highlighting the President’s dedication to serving the Sri Lankan people, both as a former Prime Minister and the current President, Dr. Pankaj praised him as a role model.

He further said that President Wickremesinghe has steered Sri Lanka through challenging times, including the recent economic instability marked by a 70% inflation rate in 2022. Dr. Pankaj and his wife are proud to contribute to the President’s efforts aimed at enhancing the quality of life for Sri Lankans. Notably, they spent their formative years in Sri Lanka before leaving for the UK due to the civil war, yet their connection to their homeland remained strong.

Despite leaving at ages 13 and 19, their commitment to their homeland remained steadfast, with a strong desire to contribute to Sri Lanka’s future development. Dr. Pankaj acknowledged President Wickremesinghe for providing them with the opportunity to do so through this program.

State Minister of Technology Kanaka Herath, Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake, Chairman of the University Grants Commission Professor Sampath Amaratunga, Sri Lanka High Commissioner to United Kingdom Rohitha Bogollagama, United Kingdom High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Andrew Patrick, Eastern Province Governor Senthil Thondaman, former Minister John Amaratunga, Chairman of the Board of Investment Dinesh Weerakkodi, President’s Special Projects Director Theekshana Abeywardena, Tarshani Pankaj, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, diplomatic officers and other dignitaries attended the event.