Sri Lankan Celebrity: Dr. Ranasinghe, a pioneer in IT education and training field of the Country
Dr. Bandusena Ranasinghe mostly known as Dr. Bandu Ranasinghe who hails from Dondra (Devundara) in Matara is another proud product of University of Peradeniya. He is the Chairman or in other words founder of the IDM Group of Companies.
When you hear IDM, you know what, where and everything of it as the IDM has built its respected name during last three decades providing Information and Communication Technology education and training to the nation.
He is the pioneer of one of the leading Computer and Information Technology Training Academies with over 50 branches island-wide covering all the provinces in the country. His brainchild Academies by today has donated almost 900 IT graduates to the country other than several thousands IT Diploma holders. IDM also provides above five hundred of direct employment opportunities within the IDM group.
Dr. Bandu Ranasinghe holds the degrees of B.Sc, MBA, Ph.D, FCS, MACS, FBCS and he is a visiting lecturer of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. IDM Group of Companies Chairman Dr. Ranasinghe is also an adjunct Associate Professor for the Charles Sturt University, Australia. He was the founder Chairman of the British Computer Society – Sri Lanka, Ex General Secretary and Ex Chairman of Computer Society of Sri Lanka.
His institute, IDM Affiliated University College, which has over 50 branches in the country, offers the IT courses from certificates level to diploma, graduate and post graduate levels. Further IDM Affiliated University Collage has several faculties including the Faculty of ICT and Faculty of Business Management. The IDM is also affiliated recognized Foreign Universities like London Metropolitan University - UK , University of Wolverhampton – UK, Charles Sturt University – Australia, Portsmouth University – UK, Greenwich University – UK, New Brunswick University- Canada and several other universities. IDM has long established relation and accreditations with NCC- UK and Edexcel – UK, pioneer awarding bodies in the world.
According to Dr. Ranasinghe, it was not a dream or a miracle starting an IT related business in a period when no one is interested in the field. Going back in his memory lane, he says “Engineering faculty of the University had only one single computer at that time”. He as a studious student, he completes his IDPM course, a prestigious professional qualification from UK, which is normally drafted for three years, in one year being in a boarding room in Colombo.
He is the sixth of his family where he had four brothers and three sisters. He entered the Engineering Faculty of the University of Peradeniya with best results for his university entrance examination. Dr. Ranasinghe who entered the campus in 1971and finished his degree in 1974.
His first job was at the Department of Examinations as an Analyst Programmer. After working three years there, he joined the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation as a Systems Analyst where he was promoted as the Deputy Data Processing Manager, Acting Data Processing Manager and the Data Processing Manager.
Dr. Ranasinghe said that it was in his second year in the university he began to fall in love with the computer. “As soon as, I passed out from the campus; I was offered an appointment as a teacher. As my desire was in computer and IT, I wanted to study more in the subject. I did not accept the appointment and did some tuition, earned some money and spent on my IT education,” he reveals.
“IDM was set up in October 1984 with the focus of providing formalized training for needy students and individuals. It was gradual process. A diploma program was introduced and later a program for students sitting the British Computer Society exams. Over the years, meeting the growing demands of Information Technology, IDM Affiliated University has today created a model for computer education and training that satisfies all those from basic computer users to industry professionals and academics”, Dr. Ranasinghe proudly says about his venture.
The business venture he started with dedication, patience and commitment caters to over 4,000 students in Colombo alone per year with its own diploma, which is recognized as a Degree Foundation Diploma, as the starting point and working upwards to internationally recognized qualifications and certifications. The students are prepared for various local and international examinations which are conducted by the Department of Examinations. Branches have been set up island-wide including three branches established more than five years back – during the period of civil war – in Jaffna peninsula. IDM Affiliated University College is one of the main training partners in ICT capacity building programs of the Government of Sri Lanka, the ICTA, Ministry of Education, USAID, Asia Foundation, Microsoft - UPP etc. IDM is recognized as "The Nation's IT Academy" by the experts in the field.
Dr. Ranasinghe welcomes the government’s move of introduction of the IT as a school subject.
He said that Sri Lanka’s literacy rate was so high. But, IT literacy in the country is not yet in a satisfactory level. “According to a sample survey done in 2004, general IT literacy rate was shown as 9.6 per cent. In 2006, it has increased to 20%. When it goes to the IT literacy rate of school children it is satisfactory as it lies as 30% and teachers’ 35%. I personally believe in that by today, school children’s IT literacy at least will be lying over 40 per cent, Dr. Ranasinghe added.
He also added that the government as well as the private sector is doing a yeomen service to bring the IT to the village. “The Government’s e-Nanasala project by ICTA is directly drafted to bring the IT education to the village. And IDM also conducts over 20 IT training centers affiliated to religious places all over the island for rural area children free of charge as a social service. The courses have a very high demand. Without stopping them there, we offer them half and full scholarships to continue their education in diploma and degree levels as a CSR project of IDM”, Dr. Ranasinghe was explaining to the Asian Tribune.
One of the respectable pioneers in the IT education field in Sri Lanka, Dr. Ranasinghe does not see any barriers in the process of bringing the IT to the village. “Necessity, dedication and commitment can win any barrier”, he says.
“But, he continues, necessary infrastructure, government’s intervention and assistance and publicity must be there. Further, student encouragements should also be done through scholarships and many other ways. Unfortunately, career guidance is not meaningfully practiced in Sri Lanka. We do need a system to educate school children at whatever the age they leave school to select a right career path”, he stressed.
He further says that Sri Lankans still have failed to use the IT as another tool for their daily needs. “We have to change this attitude soon. Sri Lankans should be made digitally rich people. It is to be activated in four levels. The first level is the ICT awareness, the second is the ICT literacy, third level is use of ICT as a tool and the fourth and final level is taking up a career in ICT”, he outlined his vision for a youngster in the field.
- Asian Tribune -