A Masters worth its Salt: Master of Development Practice, Peradeniya Uni


[Re-posting this from 2012 Dec ]

Some people get into development work without a clue as to what it’s all about. They joined up to a corps of people who wanna make the world a better place. That’s fine.

Then there are professionals who slog away at commercial jobs and half-way take a break, unwind in the mountains or beaches of Sri Lanka and wonder if this is all there is to life. Then they apply with their corporate skills and experience for jobs in the non-profit sector. That’s great!

Some people are very career-minded and would like to start out with a degree in an area that will give them experience in working with communities and are interested in the concept of sustainable development.  That’s wonderful !

Oh yes, and what about the experienced employees in NGOs who think they are too ‘senior’ to come into a University classroom and take on a challenge sitting beside the young hopefuls twenty-something but are crazy about getting a Masters in the area of work they love?

Well, all of you are absolutely welcome !

Master of Development Practice (MDP) at Peradeniya

“Sri Lanka and its neighbours face compelling challenges as they move toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the context of pursuing a sustainable development agenda. These include threats from climate change, vulnerability to natural disasters, rapid urbanization, demographic change, persistent and substantial levels of poverty and malnutrition especially in lagging regions and among vulnerable groups. Addressing these complex issues requires professionals with many areas of core knowledge, practical skills and an interdisciplinary approach” MDP, Peradeniya University website

Why it is innovative and unique

There are some features of this MDP that make it an incredibly practical and workable challenge to those committed to development. They are not listed in order of importance.

FIRST, the MDP is open to those who may not have a University degree but instead may be able to meet the equivalent in terms of experience. We could give you a few courses you may need but the gates are not barred; they are open.

SECOND,  the MDP is conducted entirely on weekends so those who are working full-time as most of us do, can travel up to Peradeniya on the weekends when lectures are held.

THIRD, it’s just great that the MDP is inter-disciplinary, drawing on humanities, social sciences, management, law, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, to name a few. And this inter-disciplinary thinking gets you good marks with UN and NGOs, non-profit sector as the work at hand demands this perspective rather than expertise in one discipline.

FOURTH, the MDP can place the students in ‘placements’ for their field work in unique locations and working with top-notch Development orgs, the range and scope of which cannot be rivalled by any other Masters in this field.

FIFTH, the faculty, the liaisons and connections with Columbia University and the global network makes this Masters a valuable experience and one that will give you the insight and professional knowledge to further your career and to expand your perspectives on Sustainable Development.

Applications for the following academic year 2016/17 are NOW OPEN  Dec-Feb. Please see the student resources page on the MDP website for details and for your easy reference here is the Applications Page.

Student Testimonials :

“when I found out about the new approach focusing more on field training and the inter-disciplinary course content itself, covering geography, biology, statistics and economics (which should be essentially included if the development practitioner is to design and implement projects that would benefit different aspects of life of the beneficiaries) it made more sense and yes, I thought this is it!”  Natasha Yatawara. Read her story from Gambia in this interview.

The Master of Development Practice is a programme in 17 countries.  The Peradeniya University is one of the five Asian universities to be included in the global MDP network. It’s a Masters programme worth its salt. iSrilankan is proud to promote its benefits to the Sri Lankan local and international student community.

Like the MDP Facebook Page  right away and you can keep up with the news and updates easily.

The images of Peradeniya University above and the collage below are credited to Kalpa Rajapaksha

No poppies by request! Remembering with olu-nelum-manel, ambal-thamarai-alli!

Screen shot 2014-11-11 at 10.07.09 PM

POPPY DAY? We didn’t have horses who died in battle. We didn’t have bagpipes.

Poppies don’t really mean much to us in Sri Lanka.

But the poppy campaign meant a great deal to the old war veterans when they came to Grants Advertising and asked for a creative poppy campaign, free of charge.

Tikiri de Zoysa wrote an amazing poem ‘Give to those who Gave’  and I remember how proud we were to see creative poppies floating around Colombo in wreaths and singles. Most cars had that wreath, vans too.

We were not remembering, but living it, trying to forget each day for a couple of hours that Sri Lanka, the very name, was loaded with hopelessness, bodies blown apart, shelling and fighting. The year was 1993 and we were in the bloody thick of it. No end in sight. I still can feel the hopelessness as if it were yesterday. Was it yesterday?

Remembering the fallen in our long war, from which we have emerged after decades, with the conviction that war is not the answer. Remembering the war veterans, and the identityless privilegeless members of the forces and the LTTE who are now without power and influence but relegated to poor people in the poorer part of the country once more.

Remembering the relatives who cannot visit a war memorial due to the lack of one both at home and in Canada, UK, Australia, Europe, Singapore, Norway, the list goes on.

Screen shot 2014-11-11 at 10.06.08 PMRemembering the victims of the massacres, the bombings the extorted, the defenseless, the harrassed, the exiled, the victimised and vanquished.

Remembering those who walked away from their childhood homes too far to return and those who walked the last battle and never did return.

Remembering the mothers of the missing and the fathers too. Remembering the children without parents who are in school-hostels today for want of responsible adults in the family to take care of them.

Remembering daughters and sons who left their schoolrooms and teachers and parents for life as a rebel.

Remembering that we can only remember and we can never forget.

Give to those who gave. All who gave. Let us lay an olu, a nelum or manel,  an ambal, thamarai or alli for the fallen.

May peace prevail! அமைதி, சமாதானம் காண்!
Screen shot 2014-11-11 at 10.12.01 PM

Photocredits: First image is Dev Wijewardhene’s amazing photography on Nil Manel in Kandy, the second and third from seedsofdesign influence website.

Sari-Nathan: the Awesomes!!

sarinda and nathan

TELLIPPALAI TRAIL CANCER HOSPITAL IS OPEN! They did it. And if you know how these things are done, it was not easy to give wing to a dream in Sri Lanka with all the political ramifications, the naysayers, the sceptics, those who wanted spanners thrown into the works. But this was different cos it had the inimitable Sarinda-Nathan combo and these guys are what they would call in younger generation circles : Awesome.

trail photos

They gave this dream LEGS as well as wings and it was an awesome moment indeed to have a nation walking behind em. I met a Diasporan Thamil friend for lunch during the last days of TrailSL. He was born in Jaffna, living in Canada, now on vacation-the first time in 14 years-back on the island. “Why didn’t I hear of this in Canada?” he says and registers to walk in Jaffna : the last lap.

There is a time to grieve, a time to heal and a time to take pride in what Srilankans achieve on their own steam. What a story, what an action and what a great moment !

The photo on the left is symbolic of a scene which can only be viewed in multi-faith, multi-ethnic Sri Lanka where the many roads meet both Western and Eastern, urban and rural, rich and poor.  More photos and writing on the Trail and Opening of the Tellippalai Trail Cancer Hospital can be found here


Sarinda: His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse declared open the Tellippalai Trail Cancer Hospital. Thank you all for the support extended to make this project a reality. Tellippalai Trail cancer hospital was only possible through the hard work of many individuals who were committed to the cause.

The Trail team were overwhelmed with the kind messages and acts of generosity over the past few days. Thank you to all who made the visit yesterday for the opening. I hope all that the others will have a chance to go there. Many have helped and a few have worked hard to over the past 3 years to bring it to life. Thank you to all of you for giving us strength.


Image of the Week


IMAGE OF THE WEEK : Mount Lavinia Hotel January 2013

Image of the Week



IMAGE OF THE WEEK: This photo was taken by Sharni Jayawardena in the village of Muruthana in Kiran, in the Batticaloa district.  People here are largely descendants of the indigenous veddah community engaging in agriculture, manual labour and (some) hunting for a living.

Sharni Jayawardena

Photography for me is neither a hobby nor a profession. It is a preoccupation.  It makes me think and keeps me focused.  A photograph is, of course, a perspective – and a choice. It is a personal statement, an interpretation of reality.  But I see each photograph I take/make more as a document than a piece of art. I think of myself as a documentary photographer.  I worked for decades as a documentary filmmaker before becoming a photographer. The shift from moving images was not a drastic or difficult one.  But it is the still image, I find, that’s the more articulate.



Image of the Week

End of the day

End of the Day


An image which will play out eternally in Sri Lanka. Click through to the image on Brett Davies’ Flickr.

Galle, Aug 6, 2011





FUTA Stories : 6% is not enough !



What does this FUTA protest mean to the rest of us ?

The FUTA trade union action has gathered momentum and means something to post-war Sri Lanka. In the media there are many interpretations of what FUTA means to Srilankans and its great to read them all. Yet even though the FUTA action can be interpreted as proof of the academic right to dissent, to opine that it has morphed beyond issues of educational reform et al is to distort its real significance to people from all political affinities, ethnicities, faiths and belonging to local and Diaspora.
[Read more…]