but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done
In the near four weeks I was away, in India and Lesotho and Zambia and Pakistan, I had in fact done some work on the textbooks we were preparing for the Career Skills modules we planned to make compulsory on all National Vocational Qualification courses. Mahinda Samarasinghe was adamant about this, and had found support amongst the members of the Sector Skills Councils that had been set up to ensure that courses catered to the needs of employers.
The excellent Consultants we had selected after advertising produced good drafts, but it fell to me to put them together. Back in Colombo I worked on these intensively, the quiet of the New Year period facilitating swift progress. I was alone at home this year, with just the one Christian on my domestic staff, but I also had frequent visitors, most of them bearing food. Writing this now, with the house divided, I think fondly of those hours of tranquility when I had what now seems the vast space of Lakmahal to myself. I loved working in the front lounge with views of trees and sky on three sides, I spent afternoons in my parents’ room, the bed I read and snoozed on facing the wall with the family photographs my father had put up over the years, I walked on the treadmill I had set up in my sister’s old room with a view over the round balcony where as children we had slept on hot nights, before my parents persuaded my grandmother to allow fans to be installed.
Shortly after the New Year, I attended my first meeting of one of the Sector Skills Councils. I had tried to avoid involvement in these previously, though Mahinda Samarasinghe, having noted that initially there had been no role for the Commission in that regard, had insisted that we play a major part. He had studied the Acts, which I suspect the Ministers before him had not done, since I was told that one of his predecessors had ignored the advice of officials that the TVEC should be involved. Mahinda saw that policy was entirely in our hands and, if the Councils were to play a major role in both policy and its implementation, we obviously had to set the pace.
It was while at that meeting that I put forward the idea that I think has served more than anything else to mark the transformation that we have enacted. In studying descriptions of both the NVQ framework and also the Sri Lanka Qualifications framework, to which it was matched, I noticed that NVQ 3 was supposed to be the equivalent of SLQF 1, which the Ordinary Level examination was baldly stated to be. I have noted previously that there were no learning outcomes attached to this, something I have tried to remedy through the National Education Commission. But what also struck me at that time was that, while the Ordinary Level was deemed a requirement for some jobs in government, the equivalent NVQ 3 certificate was not also accepted. Continue reading