“Geoscience for National Development” the 33rd annual technical sessions organized by the Geological Society of Sri Lanka (GSSL) to be inaugurated on 24th February 2017 (Friday) at 10.00 am onwards at the Auditorium, Plant Genetic Resource Centre (PGRC), Department of Agriculture, Gannoruwa. The ceremonial inauguration will be graced by the chief guest His Excellency the President Maithreepala Sirisena. The programme is scheduled to run in two parallel sessions on 24th and 25th of February, 2017. This will open up an excellent opportunity for the student researchers, academics, and professional scholars to present their research findings in every discipline of geosciences. The scholars who have made a notable contribution to the geosciences will be awarded at the inaugural ceremony. Further, the peer reviewed GSSL Journal and a documentary video on “Role of Geologists” will be launched at the 33rd Annual Sessions. The event will be followed by an Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the evening.

Established in 1983, the Geological Society of Sri Lanka (GSSL) is the premier forum dedicated to geoscientists of Sri Lanka, who are responsible for research activities leading to new findings, development of related industries, and promotion of geological sciences among general public. Thus, at this glance moment it’s important to make a public awareness on scientific value and community services offer though GSSL towards advancements of geoscience discipline in Sri Lanka. In this regard, Education Times of The Sunday Timesis glad to offer media sponsorship for the technical sessions. For more information, we arranged a discussion with Dr.Tilak Hewawasam, a Professor in Geology at University of Peradeniya and the current President of the Geological Society of Sri Lanka.

Here are some excerptions of the interview with Prof. Tilak Hewawasam.

Q: How does GSSL help to uphold the advancements in geoscience in Sri Lanka?

Currently GSSL has expanded its membership up to 500 members working in every branch of geosciences including Economic Geology, Mining Geology, Petroleum Geology, Engineering Geology, Environmental Geology and Disaster Management, Geochemistry, Geological Mapping, Geophysics, Hydrogeology, Marine Geology, etc. The students, academics and professional scholars from Universities, research institutes and industries occupy the GSSL membership under several categories. This helps the geoscientists to stay connected and perform as a one community. The GSSL hold a technical session every year to present their research findings in the working field. This will be an excellent platform for geoscientists to introduce their discoveries, engage in discussions, update the knowledge and to assist decision making in national scale. At the inaugural ceremony, the GSSL presents awards, medals and scholarships to the geoscientists who have made a distinguished contribution to the advancements of geoscience in Sri Lanka.

In addition, the GSSL conducts field workshops every year with the participation of relevant experts in order to discuss recent advances on the study of geology of Sri Lanka. Further, the GSSL offers training workshops for the early career geoscientists to meet the current knowledge demand. Besides that the GSSL also organizes career guidance workshops for upcoming geologists.

Q: “Sri Lankan Earth Science Olympiad Competition “(SLESOC)” is currently getting more popular among school students. How does this programme run?

This is an island wide competition organized by the GSSL in collaboration with the Department of Geology, University of Peradeniya. Sri Lankan school students under 19 years and those who have passed the G.C.E. (O/L) examination or sat for the G.C.E. (O/L) are eligible to apply for this competition. The best four students will be selected to participate at the International Earth Science Olympiad Competition every year.

Q: Apart from the Olympiad Competition, what are the other programmes conducted by the GSSL in order to promote Earth Science among school curriculum?

We have been conducting “Earth Science for Schools Programme” (EES) to promote the earth science education in schools of the country since 1996. This programme was initiated by Late Professor P.G. Cooray, one of the pioneer geoscientist of Sri Lanka with the help of International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). Currently this EES programme is heldas a 2-day workshop and it aimstransferring the correct and most up-to-date knowledge in earth science to school children through teachers. Both theoretical and practical sessions in earth science are integrated in this workshop.The targeted group of this programme is science and geography graduate teachers. So far, we have conducted more than 30 workshops covering all provinces. Recently we have successfully conducted this programme in Central and Northwestern provinces.

Q: How does the GSSL bring geological sciences among general public?

We conduct many programmes around the country to make widen the public awareness of the geoscience disciplines. Especially we have launched a special publication series which explains the role of geoscience in dealing with day to day activities. So far we covered the different subject areas of geoscience including Engineering Geology, Exploitation of Mineral Resources, Gemmology, Ground Water Exploration, Geological Mapping, Environmental Geology, Value Addition to Sri Lanka’s Mineral Resources, Investigation of Landslides, etc. Anyone can get through this publication series from our web publication portal and printed materials. In addition we maintain an official web page to directly interact with the people. Through this page the GSSL is willing to provide a voluntary service to the general public. You can tell us about your geological issue through the official ‘FORM OF REQUEST’ facility. You can also send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in any inquiry. Apart from that the GSSL organizes press conferences at any public emergency related to where people need the service of the geologists.

Q: How does the GSSL connect with professionalism in the geoscience field?

The GSSL is directly tied with its legal arm, the Institute of Geology Sri Lanka (IGSL). It is the professional body for the geologists in Sri Lanka. IGSL has been enacted by the Parliament Act No. 03 of 2014 to regulate, maintain and uphold the professional and ethical principles and standards in all matters connected with the practice of geology. So far 20 charted geologists have been produced through the Institute of Geology.

Q: What are the future plans of GSSL to promote geosciences in Sri Lanka?

Currently GSSL has expanded its membership up to more than 500 members working in every branch of geosciences including students, academics and professional scholars from around Sri Lanka and the world. The GSSL is the strength behind linking geoscientists and the general public. As we discussed early, GSSL is currently engaged in wide array of activities to promote geology in Sri Lanka. For the future prospects, one of our major focuses is to scale up the “Sri Lankan Earth Science Olympiad Competition”. In the future we expect at least 5000 school students island wide to incorporate in this programme. We need a younger generation armed with strong attitudes towards protecting the Earth we live. In this regard Sri Lankan Earth Science Olympiad Competition will be the best platform to transform the youngsters’ attitudes towards a sustainable earth resource management. Further, we expect some amendments to the existing education system through Earth Science Olympiad programme. As we see in the current schooling culture, students do not gain a learning experience beyond the scope of examinations. But the students who participate in the Earth Science Olympiad programme are encouraged towards a self-learning habit in which they are exposed in a real learning experience. In addition, we are planning to hold the “International Earth Science Olympiad Competition” in Sri Lanka in near future, since this will highlight Sri Lanka’s intellectual capabilities among international geoscience community. Also, we have made a proposal to create an “Alumni” for Earth Science Olympiad students.

Furthermore, GSSL is aiming to expand its public services in a new face. In this regard the people will be assisted by a team of geoscientists in fulfilling their requirements including environmental friendly mineral exploitation, water management, land slide mitigation, etc. In many developed countries elsewhere in the world, their Geological Societies have contributed in a massive way towards the economic development of their countries. Thus,the Geological Society of Sri Lanka too has a great future and it has the potential to make its mark as a major contributor to the national development of Sri Lanka.

Discussed & Prepared By,
Kusala Madhushani Premaratne

For interviews, contact:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
T.P. 0767200715, 0715257765

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