June, 12, 2018
The China Academy of West Region Development (CAWD), a well-known think-tank and consultancy outfit, was established jointly by the National Development and Reform Commission of China and the Zhejiang University in 2006 with the blessings of President Xi Jinping. At the invitation of the Pathfinder Foundation (PF) a delegation headed by Prof. Zhou Guping, President of CAWD visited Sri Lanka to establish cooperation arrangements with PF and to look for other potential partners in the fields of higher education and vocational training. The Chinese authorities have also entrusted CAWD with the responsibility of undertaking research and providing policy recommendations on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Inking a MOU two think tank, agreed to jointly implement research, consultancy and action programmes, which would further enhance capacity of local institutions in the fields of education and vocational training. Professor Zhou Guping and Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman of the Pathfinder Foundation were the signatories to MoU representing the two institutions. Professor Chen Jian, Vice President of CAWD; Dr. Zhang Tiantian, Director of Education Centre of CAWD; Dr. Ni Hao, Researcher of CAWD and Luxman Siriwardena, Executive Director and Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage, Director representing PF witnessed the event.
During subsequent discussions the two parties tentatively decided on a joint publication focusing on BRI and China-Sri Lanka relations as the first initiative of the two institutions to develop friendly relations between the two countries.
CAWD and Pathfinder teams subsequently had detailed discussions with Professor Lakshman Disanayake, Vice Chancellor of the Colombo University and Professor Manjula Vithanapathirana, Dean of the Faculty of Education, to explore areas for possible cooperation. Professor Dissanayeke, while explaining the history and status of the University and it’s international standing, unveiled a plan to set up a Faculty of Commercial Agriculture in Hambantota, where many Chinese industries are expected to be established. The University of Colombo appeared to be interested in collaborating with a prospective academic partner for establishment of the proposed faculty. In addition the Vice-Chancellor expressed his willingness to undertake joint studies with CAWD on mutually interesting areas. Meanwhile, Professor Vithanapathirana detailed the desirability for academic exchanges in the field of Education with the Zhejiang University through CAWD.
During the discussions with the Ministry of Science, Technology, Research, Skill Development and Vocational Training, Additional Secretary Ms. Nilanthi Sugathadasa, made an analytical presentation on the standing of the vocational and technical education in Sri Lanka and the progress achieved by the institutions under the purview of the ministry. She explained the role of projects funded by other donors such as Germany, Japan, and Korea etc. in establishing vocational training facilities in Sri Lanka. During the discussions the CAWD delegation outlined their part as a policy consulting platform and plans to advice the Chinese government on possible areas of collaboration.
Both CAWD and Pathfinder Foundation concluded that providing policy recommendations to the respective governments on the fields and ways and means of extending assistance to Sri Lanka would be an important task to be assisted by both think-tanks.
Professor Zhou Guping, President, the China Academy of West Region Development and Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman of the Pathfinder Foundation sign to MoU representing the two institutions
Photo from left - Yasalanie Amarasinghe, Dr Zhao Ying, Ameera Arooz, Laxman Siriwardena, Bernard Goonetilleke, Prof Zhou Guping, Dr. Ni Hao, Admiral Dr. Jyanath Colombage, Prof. Chen Jian, Dr. Zhang Tiantian, Ms Fan Ke