Sri Lanka has launched a leadership and skills development military training programme for 50,000 graduates recruited to the public sector in line with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ policy statement after former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s failed attempt of a similar mandatory programme for undergraduates in 2011.

At that time, students selected for undergraduate courses in state universities had been forced to undergo a residential three-week leadership training and positive thinking development programme at training camps which has led to much controversy.

This move has drowned criticism from the opposition, student groups and human rights groups as the nature of compulsory military type training seen in conscription.

One of the centers, a cadet training camp in Rantembe used in the programme, has been the center of controversy due to trainee deaths during that period.

The phase one of this new Army orientation-training programme began on Monday (14) in 51 island-wide Army Centers including, Security Force HQs, Regimental HQs and Training Schools, consequent upon guidance given by Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army.

The purpose of this one month long residential programme, implemented under five phases, is to absorb 10,000 graduates under each phase to cover all 50,000 graduates within a period of five months.

It is implemented together with the Directorate of Training in order to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes of those recruited graduates to ensure the effective contribution to nation-building as a trained, fully-fledged and energetic workforce.

The project is to be closely monitored by the Ministry of Defence and coordinated and supervised at all seven Security Force HQs.

Each phase through this methodology is set to train 10,000 graduates and achieve the full potential of the public sector simultaneously, covering subjects such as ‘Leadership and Team-Building Training’, ‘Management Training’, ‘Training in Private and State sector Establishments’, ‘Project Work and Field Studies’, ‘Cohesiveness and Resilience,’ etc, critical in developing an efficient public sector employee while mitigating poor productivity.

The training would also impart knowledge on managerial skills, understanding of the objectives of the government mechanism, commitment, interest and dedication, self-confidence, innovation, flexibility, visualization, respect and recognition in society.

In addition, an opportunity would be made available to the participants to engage in project work and field studies to improve their skills by identifying issues and possible solutions in relevant fields.

It is focused on the critical requirement to change the mindset of the public sector employee right from recruitment to retirement.

The Army training course aims at developing their conceptual understanding on leadership, management, focus, confidence and competence to work effectively and efficiently on long term goals and short term goals.