Education to play a major role in reconciling Sri Lanka
The Office for Unity and Reconciliation, along with the Provincial Education Departments has initiated a programme to strengthen reconciliation at school level across the island.
The first in a series of facilitator trainings took place in Anuradhapura this year with 3 more held involving officials from then Eastern, Central, Southern, Western and Northern Provinces.
The Follow up student exchange camps titled "Sahodara Pasal - Sahodara Padasalai" were held last week in Batticaloa bringing together schools in the Eastern and Southern provinces, which have been paired to continue reconciliation activities amongst the provinces. Another camp was concluded in Central Province under the same initiative for the diverse student population within the province. This programme will also be held between schools of the Western and Northern provinces, and between the other provinces in early 2017.
At these camps, hundreds of students representing diverse ethnicities, come together for a 5 day residential camp where they will learn to live together, about diverse subjects related to Reconciliation, engage in activities and plan for an Action Plan to follow up before heading to their respective communities to work towards Reconciliation. A teacher education programme runs in parallel with all these programmes being conducted by the trained provincial facilitators.
The key objective of this programme aims to create a pool of facilitators among teachers and education officials in the provinces while connecting thousands of students to become change makers in their communities. This approach is taken as ONUR's medium to long-term plan for the education sector where these initiatives evolve into a long term plan to foster relationships between the provinces and wider student communities, in a sustainable manner.
The inaugural camps in Dambulla and Batticaloa were attended by the Chairperson of ONUR former president Chandrika Kumaratunga along with provincial officials.