Total Quality Management (TQM) is seen to be one of the famous methodical concepts for improving the operation of business concerns e.g. manufacturing, service provisions and institutional management. Due to its rigorous methods and adherence to high quality standards, this practice has been found effective in accomplishing quality goals. Upon the emergence of TVET as a major player in economic growth and with the potential for sustainable job opportunities, developing a TQM model for institutions is seen to be beneficial and important in aiding the capacity building mechanisms of TVET institutions.

It is with this rationale that the In-Country Program on “Total Quality Management in TVET” was organized by the Colombo Plan Staff College for Technician Education (CPSC) from December 2-6, 2013 at the University of Vocational and Technical Education (UNIVOTECH), Ratmalana, Sri Lanka. A total of 41 participants attended the program, which included institution heads, trade instructors, English lecturers, administrative staff and quality assurance key persons in TVET Institutions from all provinces of the country.

Dr. Mohammad Naim Yaakub, CPSC Director General, provided overall program supervision. Dr. Hazrat Hussain, CPSC Faculty Consultant acted as Program Coordinator and main resource lecturer, while Ms. B.B. Gamage, Director Business Development and Research, DTET assisted in the program facilitation as Local Coordinator. Several important guests from the Sri Lankan government were invited at the opening ceremony to formally open the program.

In his opening speech, Mr. K. A. Thilakarathna, Secretary of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skill Development, expressed the commitment of his ministry to carry forward the cause of quality TVET in Sri Lanka. He foresees the benefits in strengthening collaboration with international agencies such as CPSC in making the said goal possible. Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor of UNIVOTECH, Dr. T.A. Piyasiri, stressed the need for sharing experiences to come up with a common body of knowledge on the issue for collective wisdom and better planning. Another special guest, the Director General of Department of Technical Education and Training (DTE), Mr. S. Balasubramaniam welcomed all collaborations and affirmed the continued support of DTET in the pursuit of quality delivery in training and development.

Dr. Hussain, acting in behalf the CPSC Director General Dr. Naim welcomed the warm words of support and commitment from the chief guests and appreciated the vibrant relationship between DTET and CPSC in continuously exploring opportunities in striving for a better TVET instruction in Sri Lanka.

In order to provide more insights and inputs based from the Sri Lankan experience, several local experts were invited to the program. Mr. Lal Ponseka, a certified ISO quality auditor explained the ISO 9001-2008 version and its requirements for institutions to qualify for certifications while Ms. Kumari Jayasekara from the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA) spoke on quality assurance and its importance with some practical examples.

Dr. Hazrat and Dr. Ponseka discussing TQM practices to the participants.

With the goal of involving as many participants as possible to expedite a faster transfer of knowledge, a National Seminar on "Advancing Quality in TVET: Current Practices and the Lessons Learned" was also held on December 4, 2013. In this seminar, several experts were invited to further elaborate the need to promote a quality-driven TVET by providing local examples and applications.

Mr. DD Surawera, Assistant Professor of UNEVOTECH and Consultant on qualifications framework spoke about the importance of qualifications in backdrop of social and industrial demand. He explained different steps that contribute to quality assurance i.e registration of institutions, accreditation of institutions, competency standards, competency assessment and national certification systems that gradually fit into national qualification framework. It protects rights of the customers both at the supply and demand side. Dr. Hussain, on the other hand, elaborated on the APACC Accreditation and Certification System for quality assurance in TVET systems of the CPSC member countries, progress and shared the lessons learned on accreditation activities.

The closing program, held to recognize the achievements of the program participants, was held on December 6, 2013 at the same venue. Attending this important ceremony was the Deputy Director General Mrs. J. Krishnamoorthy, the chief guest of the occasion, who provided the participants with kind words of encouragement. Overall, the program was perceived to be timely, relevant and helpful by the participants.