Focusing on post-war development
Following are the excerpts of an interview by the Daily News with German Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jens Ploetne on the German technical and development assistance to Sri Lanka.
Q: The German Technological Training institute has played a vital role in Sri Lanka. How do you view the development and success of this institute over the past 50 years?
A: German Tech, as it is commonly known, has become a brand name for sustainable and successful development cooperation in Sri Lanka. Many thousand highly skilled technicians or drivers have graduated since 1959. Today, each one of them is a living proof of how successful the typically German combination of theoretical and practical training has developed in Sri Lanka.
Q: How would you elaborate the types of technical and engineering assistance provided during this period?
A: Education at the CGTTI starts of with a General Basic training for all students. After that, different types of specialization can be chosen from machinist to automotive electrician.
Technical education is vital for economic development. File photo
From the start, the students had a broad choice of specialization. But German Tech has always kept up with the newest technical standards.
Today, for example, students get trained state-of-the-art computer-assisted-development (CAD) with the latest technology. During my last visit to German Tech I was very impressed by this modern learning-environment.
Q: Has Germany increased technical know-how and funding to this institute during the past 50 years?
A: While German Tech today stands on its own feet, partnership with the renowned vocational training school in Metzingen continues. That is why a high-ranking delegation from Metzingen will assist today’s festivities in Moratuwa.
Q: What was the reason for Germany to enter into such cooperation?
A: Fifty years ago, German Tech was the first big German development aid project. Since then, many have followed. Just think of the two dams financed by Germany in the Mahaweli Development scheme in Randenigala and Rantambe or a seven million Dollar grant for developing the Colombo Harbour as early as 1961! Overall, German State development aid to Sri Lanka amounts to more than Dollar 1.5 billion.
Q: What is the role of the German Tech in Sri Lanka?
A: I think that for Sri Lanka German Tech had a double benefit: It introduced state-of-the-art technology to its economy and had provided the country with a significant number of well-trained specialists.
Q: What would role Germany play at this Engineering and Technical exhibition?
A: Different German institutions will exhibit at the fair starting today in Moratuwa. The German Embassy will inform about German companies such as Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen or Porsche as well as the possibilities of studying in Germany. GTZ will provide information about its long history of development work in and for Sri Lanka.
Q: How do you view Germany as a competitor in the Western technological and engineering market?
A: German companies remain leading providers for high-end technology and engineering.
German products might not always be the cheapest, but as everybody knows: at the end of the day, quality pays.
Q: What are your future plans to assist this institute and other sectors in Sri Lanka to be a partner in Sri Lanka’s massive effort to become a developed nation?
A: Cooperation between Germany and German Tech will continue. It has evolved into a real partnership we all can be proud of.
Beyond that, German development aid today is very much focused on helping Sri Lanka overcome the consequences of nearly 30 years of armed conflict.
The war has been won, but building peace is a long and very demanding task. All citizens of this beautiful island need to feel that this country is their country and that State institutions serve all of them indiscriminately. My country stands ready to help Sri Lanka in this challenging and historic task.