Proposed National Science and Technology Policy of Sri Lanka


In the increasingly competitive global economy, Science and Technology have become strategically more important in national development.  The rapid advancements and the pervasive role of S & T in the global economy necessitate the nation to build up and enhance its capability in Science and Technology to take advantage of potential wealth creating opportunities.  In view of the above, a thrust should be made to harness S & T as key drivers in raising the national capacity to acquire and utilize knowledge in Science and Technology to foster innovations.

Successive governments in Sri Lanka have been involved in developing a consistent Science and Technology policy.  Comprehensive statements were drawn up by a Presidential Task Force in early 1990’s, the Natural Resources Energy and Science Authority (NARESA) in 1995, and the National Science & Technology Commission (NASTEC) in 2002 and thereafter.  The present document is a distillation of the foregoing policy statements and of the new thinking that has occurred in response to the rapid advances and changes in global Science and Technology, as well as the social, political and economical developments in Sri Lanka.

The proposed National Science and Technology Policy elements and strategies are expected to be the basis for the attainment of a scientifically and technologically advanced society and for a holistic approach to strengthen and develop Science and Technology.  The policy goals also emphasize on capacity building and strengthening of Science and Technology through intensification of advancement and dissemination as well as the application of knowledge and technologies in particular, the leading–edge technologies.

These policy elements constitute an overarching statement that provides a framework for more specific policies and implementation plans.  They have been designed keeping in mind the social and material well being of the people of the country, protection of the environment and the need for sustainable growth and development.  It is envisaged that the National Science and Technology Policy when adopted, will provide a consistent, long-term framework for growth and development in Science and Technology of the country, leading to the achievement of the status of a developed nation in the foreseeable future.

Policy Elements
1.     Foster a national science and innovation culture that effectively reaches every citizen of the country by:  
  • Providing  equal  and  adequate  opportunities  for  all  to  acquire  a  basic education in  science  and  its  practical  applications
  • Encouraging  a  questioning  mind  and  the  application  of  scientific  methodologies in  every  day  life for efficiency and productivity
  • Cultivating among  all Sri Lankans, an  appreciation  of  the  values and ethics   of science  and  technology  and  related research, leading to entrepreneurship as  an essential  aspect  of  modern society
  • Promoting public awareness of S & T
2.     Build  up,  sustain,  and  progressively  increase  the  resource  base  of  scientists and  technologists  necessary  to  respond  to  the  developmental needs  of  the country  by:  
  • Improving  the  working  and  living  conditions  of  the  scientists  and technologists
  • Providing  incentives  for research and innovation that  would  help  to  retain  recognized  high  calibre scientists and  technologists in Sri Lanka and  attract  the Sri Lankan expatriate scientists to contribute to national development
  • Training scientists and technologists in advanced technologies and knowledge management to support local industries and other needs of the country
3.     Recognize  the  key  role  of  science  and  technology  as  an  important  and  essential  item  in  national  development  by:  
  •  Establishing  an  Inter-Ministerial  Task Force   chaired  by  the President
  • Including  scientists  and  technologists  in  the  formulation  of  policies  and plans, and  decision-making  at  the  highest  levels
  • Integrating scientific  and  technological  planning  into  the  ministerial,  provincial and  national  level  plans  of  the  country
  • Involving scientists and technologists in monitoring and  reviewing strategies, legislation,  and  institutional  framework  for  science  and technology  in  all relevant  sectors
4.     Foster  scientific  and  technological  activities  in  priority areas  and  encourage  the  development  of  self-reliance  in  scientific  and  technological  capability  by:  
  • Progressively  increasing  the public and private sector investment  in  science  and technology  (up  to  1.5 %  of GDP,   by the year 2016)
  • Developing and  strengthening the existing S & T institutions and universities  to generate high quality research and train scientists
  • Establishing where  appropriate,  new  centres  of  science  and  technology  in the high  priority  areas  where advanced international level research facilities are available
  • Improving  the  autonomy  and  flexibility  of  science  and  technology institutions
  • Promoting  partnerships  among  industries,  research  institutes  and  universities for knowledge generation through research
  • Promoting  and expanding public-private  partnerships  in  science  and  technology activities and encouraging investment in R & D
5.     Develop,  select,  acquire,  and  adapt  scientific  knowledge  and  technology  necessary  for  the  progressive  modernization  of  all  sectors  so  as  to  enhance  the  country’s  competitiveness  in  the  world  economy  by :
  • Encouraging multi-disciplinary  development research
  • Up- scaling  of research based  new  processes  and  technologies to pilot and commercial scales  with state support
  • Encouraging industries  and  R & D institutions  to  give greater  emphasis  to technology transfer  and  technology  adaptation
  • Development  of  technologies  suitable  for  transferring  to  small  and  medium enterprises,  particularly  enterprises  at  the  village  level through collaboration between R & D institutions and the SME sector
6.     Ensure quality standards of  S & T institutions, S & T products and services to face the challenges of competitive global markets and needs of the domestic market by :  
  • Implementing effective, science based, transparent monitoring and reviewing systems for S & T institutions and taking corrective steps to ensure quality
  • Ensuring the effectiveness of activities  of  the   institutions  mandated to  maintain international quality  standards  of  institutions,  services  and  management  systems such as ISO 9001, ISO 14000, ISO 22000 etc. and certification of product  quality  through  their own certification  schemes with the application of appropriate S & T
  • Ensuring the effectiveness of activities of the  relevant  accrediting  bodies  for  laboratory accreditation against international standards such as ISO 17025 etc.
  • Ensuring the effectiveness of accreditation activities for conformity assessment in supporting Quality Assurance
7.     Ensure  sustainable  development  while  conserving  the  natural  resources  of  the  country  and  protecting  the  environment,  through  the  appropriate  use  of  Science  and  Technology  by:  
  • Promoting the  acquisition,  transfer,  and  development  of  clean  technologies  in industry through application of S & T
  • Strengthening and  implementing  laws  and  regulations  to  protect  the environment
  • Formulating transparent policies governing the use of   natural resources such as soil and water to   meet the long- term needs  of  the  country
  • Establishment of monitoring and evaluation systems for the successful implementation of the above.
8.     Encourage  and strengthen co-operation  in  science  and  technology between Sri  Lanka and  other  countries,  with  a  view  to  building  capacity  in technologies  which  will  have  a  positive  impact  on  the  economic development of  the  country by :
  • Establishing memoranda  of  understanding for  cooperation  in  S & T activities with other  nations, international organizations, academic, and R & D institutions, and relevant  scientific  and  technical  industries.
  • Promoting international cooperation in S & T activities, including initiation and conduct of joint programmes of study and R & D, with a view to building technological capacity
  • Developing joint ventures involving S & T, for socio-economic development
  • Establishing exchange programmes for senior scientists and technologists
  • Providing opportunities for young scientists and technologists to acquire knowledge in S & T as practiced in other countries
9.           Encourage research  in  fundamental  and  applied  aspects  of  science  and technology  and  development  related  to  areas  such  as nanotechnology, biotechnology,  material science,  energy,  information  &  communication technology  and  electronics  by:  
  • Providing  the  necessary  funding,  infrastructure,  and  training  support
  • Encouraging  joint  venture  partnerships  to  develop  relevant  technologies  for establishment  of  industries
10.   Encourage  utilization  of local resources and  further  development  of indigenous   knowledge  and  technologies  by:  
  • Promoting industries based on local resources ensuring value addition
  • Establishing  a database of available S & T  based  indigenous  knowledge and  practices
  • Researching into the acceptability  of  the  available  indigenous knowledge,  and further  development of   such  knowledge  and  technologies while ensuring Intellectual Property Rights
  • Where  appropriate, encouraging  the  development  and  practice  of indigenous  knowledge
  • Promoting research related to sustainable use of biodiversity of  the  country
11.         Encourage the use  of  science  and  technology  to  mitigate  and  manage harmful effects  of  natural  hazards,  and other phenomena such as global warming by:  
  • Making  people  aware  of  the  general  and scientific  principles  and  underlying causes  of  natural  and man made hazards
  • Disseminating information regarding preliminary indications of hazardous occurrences, and their harmful effects
  • Using S & T based methodologies to identify and map hazard-prone areas, and to develop  early  warning  systems and adaptive measures
  • Developing local and national emergency plans to  respond  to  natural disasters, including  evacuation  plans,  provision  of  food,  and  ensuring the health  of  the affected  population
12.      Develop  capabilities  in  science  and  technology  to  strengthen  national security  by: 
  •  Using science  and  technology  inputs  to  ensure  security  in  water,  food, shelter, energy,  healthcare  and national defense for  the  people as well as security from crime and fear
  • Fostering bilateral  and  multi-lateral  links  with  other  nations  and international organizations,  in  areas such as defense technologies, and technologies  pertaining  to control  of  and  defense  against  chemical, biological,  and  nuclear  weapons
  • Building human  resources  and  infrastructure  capacity  in  the  above  areas by local  research  and  development,  international  collaboration,  and training programmes
13.      Encourage and reward  science  and  technology  based  innovations  and inventions  and  ensure  the  protection  of  intellectual  property  rights  (IPR) by:  
  • Strengthening  and  enforcing  laws  and  regulations  governing IPR
  • Assisting  scientists  and  technologists  to  patent  innovations
  • Further  developing  systems  of  national  recognition  and  awards  for successful  researchers and inventors for their  inventions
  • Developing a system of national recognition and awards for S & T institutions supporting inventions and innovations
  • Encouraging  the  provision  of  venture  capital  to  individuals  and organizations  interested  in  converting  inventions  into innovations
  • Inculcating IPR awareness among scientists and technologists and the general public


  1. The policy discussion document is excellent. I add below two paragraphs of in my opinion overriding statements that should be an essential preamble to the document please especially as we are a group of scientists involved in this discussion of science policy- for which opportunity we are grateful. These comments are vital if we are to take account of and deal with the real world situation that exists here now and have done in the post independence past. I add in parenthesis at the end of each sentence the sections of the policy document that would be adversely affected or rendered impotent and meaningless if the preamble is ignored. I know these comments do not apply only here- but they need to be made here as well as anywhere else.
  1. In the present and future scientific age we must recognize that progress depends on meritocracy and not other consideration in relation to all aspects of the function of scientific organizations and scientists (Intro; 1a and c; 2 a,b; 3b,d; 4d; 6a,b; 7b,c,d; 8a,b; 11d; 12a; 13b-e:.
    1. Corruption. Nepotism ,and racial or other Chauvinism, intolerance or insensitivity are the antithesis of proper scientific and technological development, and can ruin the application and benefits of any policy not only as far as any aim of reaching the less fortunate sections of society but also from the point of view of attaining developed nation status,  however excellent such policy might appear to be on paper (Intro; 1a and c; 2a,b; 4a,c,d; 5,d; 7b,c,d; 8a-d; 10e; 11d; 12a-c; 13b-e:.

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