Soft skills relating to social harmony and conflict resolution will be the theme of a one-day workshop for this year’s university entrants.
The workshop is part of a three-month pre-orientation programme (POP) that new entrants will be following in the next 12 weeks before they start attending lectures in October. The pre-orientation follows the conclusion of a three-week leadership training, which ends today.
This year’s university entrants are the first batch of tertiary-level students to be given such a training, which was conducted at military camps around the country. The three-week leadership training and the three-month pre-orientation are initiatives of the Ministry of Higher Education.
The 12-week pre-orientation, which begins in July, will include special courses in English and Information Technology, as well as nature education. Students will follow the courses in their respective districts.
The mandatory one-day workshop on social harmony and conflict resolution will be conducted by local academics. The trainers were trained by experts from the University of Columbia, US.
“Issues and conflicts at university campuses result from a lack of knowledge in conflict resolution and social harmony,” Dr. Yasantha Mapatuna, adviser to the Ministry of Higher Education, told the Sunday Times. “We decided to include this component, which will be open to new entrants as well as selected senior students.” The English module has been put together by the English Language Teaching Units (ELTUs) of the Sri Lankan universities, with the British Council acting as moderator. The IT course has been created by the School of Computing, of the University of Colombo.
The English and IT courses will be held at regional IT centres, and 28 National Online Distance Education Service (NODES) centres, under the Ministry of Higher Education, and 135 school IT centres, under the Ministry of Education. The English component will be conducted in lecture halls and classrooms belonging to these centres.
The students will learn from extending a welcome to making introductions, and giving and receiving information. They will also be trained in conducting telephone conversations, public speaking, note taking, and facing interviews.
“At the end of the programme, the student will be given a test in English. Those who fail to reach a required level will be given facilities to study English online, through a scholarship programme provided by the US government,” Dr. Mapatuna said. She said students who completed the IT component will receive a “Computer Driving License.”
Dr. Nihal Dayawansa, National Coordinator of the Pre-Orientation Programme, said there will be a compulsory online placement test for university entrants, and those who score below the required level will have to follow the English course.
Students who have completed their leadership training will be notified next week about the venue and date for the placement test.