ONUR has initiated the following programmes which are related to the identified Focus Areas, on an ongoing basis, in working towards fulfilling our Mission and Vision for National Unity and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
Arts and Culture as a means to achieve national unity and reconciliation is a key long term initiative of ONUR,which will work in partnership with a diverse group of artistes from various fields of Arts and Culture in Sri Lanka.
Thisgroup hails from diverse backgrounds both in terms of the diversity of the type of artistic endeavours they are involved in as well as the social, ethnic, religious, linguistic backgrounds.
Among the many activities planned for next year, a large scale festival of arts and culture is expected to be launched in the middle of 2016 with the events and follow up activities spreading across the country in multiple locations.
The selection and decision making with regard to the activities will be made by a working committee of artistes guided by the ONUR for the purpose of greater transparency, autonomy and effectiveness. Performances including tele Dramas, other forms of theatrical and musical expression are encouraged as part of the countrywide initiatives leading up to these.
The ONUR will also endorse various initiatives which make a positive and sustainable contribution toward national unity and reconciliation. For instance, the “Secca Team”, Sinhala language Tele Drama focusing on a theme of unity and reconciliation, which is telecasted on Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation during Saturday prime time has been endorsed by ONUR.
A programme in underway, in coordination with the ministry of education to create awareness on events of cultural and religious celebrations significance, to be introduced among students of all communities in Sri Lanka.
Commencing with Thai Pongal festival in January 2016, the programme will specifically cover 8 culturally and religiously important celebrations to foster intra and inter ethnic, religious, cultural understanding and mutual respect among school children. ONUR will work closely with the respective school networks both National and Provincial in carrying out this initiative.
ONUR together with Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs, has formulated comprehensive 5-year District Development Plan for the Northern and Eastern provinces.
Since the end of 30 years of internal strife, there have been financial and technical assistance extended by the Government, Donors and Civil Society Organizations for the socio-economic-infrastructure improvements.
Most of the programmes were implemented independent of each other, displaying lack of coordination leading to repetition, overlap, duplication of the programme.
While these 2 provinces were chosen due to the extensive disturbance to normal life and unequal development due to 30 years of internal strife; ONUR and NPD (National Planning Department) believe this could be a model to be used in the rest of the districts, as well in enabling an inclusive development agenda for each district in Sri Lanka.
The process of comprehensive development planning included stakeholder consultation from the local communities, the first time such extensive consultations with stakeholders have taken place in the planning of Government Development Programmes.
Civil Society Representatives who attended meetings were appreciative of the fact that an open and transparent consultation was carried out without limiting such discussions to officials only.
This programme would prepare communities to initiate dialogues while establishing intra and inter connections among diverse groups. This will aim to create a link between community, regional and national level reconciliation efforts. In this way, communities will have greater opportunities to understand diversity while working together to address and resolve socio-economic issues. Communities would gradually realize that diversity is an opportunity rather than a challenge. In this regard, several projects have been identified and will take place in parallel.
To be launched in early 2016, interfaith and intercultural dialogues will be the first step in this endeavor to strengthen the physical and human infrastructure at the level of divisional secretaries for designing and implementing a national level reconciliation initiative in Sri Lanka.
In partnership with the Center for Peace-building and Reconciliation (CPBR), the ONUR will develop a cadre of trainers, consisting of development officers and religious leaders, who will closely work with divisional secretaries to raise awareness on reconciliation among government officials and communities.
In addition this programme seeks to develop and implement an awareness creation campaign on reconciliation among the relevant government officers at the regional level and a reconciliation programme through Divisional Secretariats to be implemented among community and youth leaders and professional groups. This programme will pilot in the 3 districts.
Identifying the fact that education is an extremely important sector for supporting a transformative process in post-conflict societies and in creating the mindset of the younger generation to encourage social cohesion, reconciliation and fostering unity; ONUR with Ministry of Education and the relevant Provincial Ministries of Education, have jointly identified a range of short, medium and long term initiatives that will facilitate creating awareness among the young generation on the importance moving forward as Sri Lankans with national unity and reconciliation.
Some of the identified existing initiatives will be scaled up for better efficiency and effectiveness including student/teacher exchange programmes and the promotion of arts, culture and sports for reconciliation.
Discussion is underway to design a road map for mainstreaming national unity and reconciliation within the education system. Some significant milestones suggested in this process consists of reviving Citizenship Governance & Peace Education and practice in schools and the promotion of the Trilingual Language Policy.
A structure to assist Female Headed Households, war widows and other marginalized women in accessing entitlements and state services will be put in place in consultation with other state institutions and be supported by ONUR for effective implementation. This unit will ensure access to facilities to to bring a sense of normalcy to their lives.
The unit will handle grievances by receiving, reviewing and give appropriate responses. A hotline with a dedicated short code will facilitate communicating with the Unit.
ONUR has identified three key areas to assist with in regard to language related challenges faced by Sri Lankan Society.
Initiative to facilitate creation of bilingual positions in the public service, Automated technology solutions for translation with access to every citizen and plans for Language Teaching and Training to be formalized for public officials and citizens through the use of technology are considered as priority areas.
ONUR is already working with several organisations who are active at grass-root level to facilitate livelihood development initiatives for Female Headed Households who were deprived of opportunities due to the direct impact of the conflict.