1. Background of AHEAD
Sri Lanka is seeking to develop the higher education sector to promote economic growth and prosperity and attain Upper Middle Income Country (UMIC) status over the medium term. The GoSL has recognized the importance and urgency of this challenge. It has made higher education development an immediate priority to elevate Sri Lanka to the status of a UMIC. This new emphasis on high-end HRD constitutes the background of AHEAD, whose objective is to expand enrolment in priority disciplines, improve the quality of degree programs, and promote research and innovation in the higher education sector. The World Bank-supported Operation will comprise two components: (a) a Program component (US$93 million) and (b) a Program Operation Technical Support (POTS) component (US$7 million). The first component will use a PforR instrument and is referred to as the Program. The second component will use an IPF instrument and is referred to as the Project. There will be an Operation and Monitoring Support Team (OMST) in the Ministry of Higher Education and Highways (MHEH) with close links to the UGC to coordinate and provide academic, technical, and operational expertise for the implementation of AHEAD.
The OMST will have branch Operations Technical secretariats (OTS)s in the universities. The OMST will have full-time academic specialists for the three results areas. The OMST will also have expertise from outside the state university sector for the activities related to the non-state higher education sector. The OMST will also have expertise in operations, monitoring and evaluation, financial management, and procurement to assist in the implementation of program activities.
Each university will have a Director- OTS, who will be a senior academic appointed by the university, and administrative staff. There will also be a Project Secretary and a Senior Administration Officer in each OTS. In addition, OTS will have a Deputy Director- Finance,Deputy Director – Procurement and Deputy Director- Engineering to support the activities of OTS. The OMST and OTSs will organize regular capacity-building activities for the relevant staff of the HEIs, including in procurement, financial management, and contract management, throughout the program implementation.
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