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Could Youth-Led Reconciliation Put Sri Lanka Back on the Map?

Dilinika Peiris's picture

The three decade long war in Sri Lanka was instigated due to unmet youth aspirations. Today, Sri Lanka is well known as a post conflict country. No Sri Lankan in their right minds would like to witness the same again. As a Sri Lankan who has lived and worked most of my life in Sri Lanka, I can’t help but feel that my future could have been different if there was no conflict during the best part of my youth. I know many others feel the same.

Right now, most of Sri Lanka’s population is of working age. This demographic bonus was opened in the 1990s and will close in a few years time. According to Prof. Indralal De Silva from the University of Colombo, this demographic dividend will close in 2017, given the current trends.

It's time all decision makers and development practitioners think YOUNG. Youth need to be mainstreamed into development work and given a seat at the table to actively participate in policy making processes.

On September 1, 2011, World Bank Colombo office hosted a Youth Open House to provide an opportunity for youth to learn about careers in development and also to invite youth to be a part of the upcoming Country Partnership Strategy consultations. “We no longer want to be beneficiaries of development” said a youth explaining that youth need to be considered a development partner and given a seat at policy dialogues that would shape their future.

A Video Conference titled “Sri Lanka is still YOUNG” was a reminder to all that Sri Lanka’s demographic time bomb is ticking and the current bonus period is about to expire. It was indeed refreshing to hear that Sri Lankan youth groups are already on the act working on many fronts challenging issues of development priority to Sri Lanka. Most of these youth, who have lived through the conflict period, put reconciliation for development at the top of the list.

The Chairman, Lalith Piyum Perera from National Youth Services Council and his team presented the progressive work carried out by NYSC to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills while giving youth a common Sri Lankan identity and respecting diversity of Sri Lankan cultures and people.

The President of Sri Lanka UnitesPrashan de Visser presented their work aimed at breaking the culture of divisiveness and providing a space for youth leaders to voice their concerns for change through real heartfelt reconciliation. “We have a dream and that is to see Sri Lanka in the years to come will be seen as a model for authentic post war reconciliation, a true meritocracy and the ideal for post conflict transformation. We work to this end - the creation of inclusive Sri Lankan identity” said Prashan describing SLU’s recent work bringing over 600 youth leaders to interact, exchange views, voice concerns and start friendships which could be lifelong ones.  

"The youth of Sri Lanka - from every village, city and district - must be inspired, equipped and empowered to take on the barriers and challenges that stand in our way. I firmly believe that the key to transforming our nation lies with the youth of this nation. With the right investment, molding a broader worldview, and combined with selfless sacrifice we can achieve what currently to many seems an unlikely goal – a reconciled, prosperous and great nation.”

-Prashan de Visser, Sri Lanka Unites President.

Shalini Mariyathas presented on behalf of the Young Planners Forum of Sri Lanka. A presentation titled “Universe Cities 2030 and Young Planners” explained the work of this young group to raise awareness on the need for well planned cities which are economically and environmentally sustainable or Eco2 Cities.

Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka’s 52 year old national charity was represented by Isura Silva, Manager of Sarvodaya Fusion, a leading ‘Information Communication and Mobile Technology for Development’ social enterprise in Sri Lanka. Isura explained how this initiative is using new technology to educate rural children and youth by linking them to resources in leading areas of Sri Lanka and the world.

Sex, most often a taboo topic in Sri Lanka was taken up in a presentation by Nooranie Muthaliph from Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka. Youth for a Healthy Sri Lanka was the title given and Nooranie explained issues and concerns around Sexual Reproductive Health of youth in Sri Lanka. A need for a national young person’s policy on health in addition to a National Youth Policy was brought up by Nooranie.

The common feature of the 5 youth organizations represented at this event was their island wide networks and outreach initiatives. Andy Schubert from Young Researchers Collective summing up the discussion emphasized the need to mainstream youth in development initiatives, the same way issues such as gender and environment are mainstreamed.

These were just a few of a number of youth organizations working towards reconciliation and development in Sri Lanka. Thanking youth for their interest and participation, Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives assured youth representatives a seat at the public consultations process in preparation for the upcoming World Bank Country Partnership Strategy for Sri Lanka. The consultations will be conducted in Colombo and outside (locations to be determined).


Photos by Udara Madushanka

Comments

Submitted by Keshavi Puswewala on
It was great to be there last Thursday where most of us, youth participants ,got a rare chance to attend the World Bank open house discussions. It was an eye opener for me to know about what the real role of word bank is because it was a mystery to me until last week. The opportunity to talk to the world bank staff and sharing their experiences, advices, actually made an impact on me. The Video conference was a new experience and It was nice to see the youth organizations who participated there at the meeting , was really doing something visionary. It was the first time I was listening to something done by youth for youth , and i would like to wish them all the best for their future endeavours. I think it is the time that the world bank take more initiatives to approach University crowd and let them realize what they lack and what they need to be more competent in the future. I wish all the best and would like to see more and more events like this and definitely will be taking part if I get the opportunity to be there. Thanks.

Submitted by Dilinika on
Thank you Keshavi for sharing your experiences. There are many more youth led and youth driven organizations doing fabulous work in Sri Lanka. What we heard was just a representative group of youth working on some areas where World Bank is also engaged in right now. University students like yourself are doing a lot of great work out there and through World Bank supported Higher Education project implemented by the Ministry of Higher Education, we are engaging with these youth groups. The World Bank also has some knowledge and information sharing partnerships set up at University of Colombo and Eastern University to learn more about World Bank supported projects and activities in Sri Lanka. We hope to reach out to other universities too through this initiative. We welcome you to join these groups through your organization based in universities to carry forward this work. A bit more of collaboration can do wonders going forward.

Dear DILINIKA, Thank you very much for inviting the National Youth Services Council and our chairman and i enjoyed very much being there and trying to present what we do. I personally don't think i manage to present the overall concept of what we do,. But want to use this space to say that what we do s to make the youth work of this country better from policy to implementation as well as addressing pressing youth issues in serving national needs. Youth in Sri Lanka as the driving force of the country at the moment an Si Lanka looking forward to be the miracle of Asia as they say, the need for a pivotal body is a must. A body who coordinate and organize all youth led youth run bodies Independently. I think Youth council is well placed and well funded to do this.

Submitted by Dilinika on
Dear Sanka You did a great job and once again we would like to thank you and your Chairman and team for making the time to join this event. It is just the beginning for us at the World Bank Sri Lanka office to find ways to meaningfully engage with youth of this country as we prepare for the next Country Partnership Strategy, which will be implemented by the Government of Sri Lanka. The feedback we are receiving from Civil Society groups working with you on policy to implementation is evidence of the great work you have started. Mainly in terms of your work related to the much awaited National Youth Policy for Sri Lanka. NYSC together with the Ministry of Youth Affairs seem to be taking this forward. Do let us know if there is anything we can do to help this process. We look forward to a discussion on this with your teams.

Submitted by Anonymous on
It is a pleasure to see that initiative of this nature is been organised to generate a successful dialogue. Lack of clarity and consistency in youth policies has also impeded youth development. Too frequent political changeovers have impacted the implementation of government programmes for youth; for example, the National Youth Services Council (NYSC) finds it difficult to reach long-term goals because of changes in the political leadership and the consequent changes in policy objectives and programmes. NYSC has discontinued many youth programmes it had been implementing such as Thurunushakthi ( a television programme and youth camp), Sahasra ( Job information Centre) etc. I wonder weather or not the National Youth Services Council (NYSC) recognizes that it is the responsibility of the NYSC to take such initiatives forward with concrete actions. Just making a presentation about few leadership and entrepreneurial skills w workshop should not be the work should be delivered by the NYSC. As the authorized, state funded (tax money of innocent parents of rural youth) council NYSC should ask them selves ‘what have they done to formulate a youth policy?. It would be a waste of time to talk about organisations if they can not even organise a ‘Sharamdana’ in villages as a result of loosing their credibility.

Just thought of sharing this interesting and related article with you all http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=105067 It seems soft skills matter more than the level of education....what do you think?

So agree with these comments - I have had proven projects ready for 5 years now and could start disseminating knowledge from UK & European projects BUT how to get over the initial barrier and get to the decision makers? I was brought up in Sri Lanka so I am committed to making a difference.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Hi Christine, its great to hear of your commitment to make a difference. My suggestion to you is to connect with youth networks already working in Sri Lanka and see how you can make a difference.

Submitted by Luxman Siriwardena on
Excellent. all policy makers and politicians in Sri Lanka need to remember that reconciliation is mainly for the youth and children.

Submitted by L.W.Ranjith Wickramasinghe on
It was great to be there last Thursday where most of us, youth participants ,got a rare chance to attend the World Bank open house discussions. It was an eye opener for me to know about what the real role of word bank is because it was a mystery to me until last week. The opportunity to talk to the world bank staff and sharing their experiences, advices, actually made an impact on me. The Video conference was a new experience and It was nice to see the youth organizations who participated there at the meeting , was really doing something visionary. It was the first time I was listening to something done by youth for youth , and i would like to wish them all the best for their future endeavours. I think it is the time that the world bank take more initiatives to approach University crowd and let them realize what they lack and what they need to be more competent in the future. I wish all the best and would like to see more and more events like this and definitely will be taking part if I get the opportunity to be there. Thanks

Submitted by Anonymous on
Having witnessed the violence in 1958, 1971, 1977, 1988 and subsequently, I do not agree that the youth or youth aspirations were wholly the cause of the violence. If you look deep you will find that all this violence, which is actually alien to Sri Lankans, was caused by political machinations and lack of religious leadership and an erosion of values. Yes it is the youth who have suffered. What also needs to be looked at is the spin off for some. The violence, interestingly, has become an excuse for abandoning the country of their birth and looking for greener pastures. The education system is in shambles thanks to political bungling starting perhaps from the Schools take-over which targeted Christian schools and their property.How many politicians use the local education process for their children? We are more interested in playing politics rather than doing what is best for the country. If we are sincere, we must have a consensus among the different political groups that we would mainstream 'equal opprtunity' in every sphere of life in Sri Lanka. Merely giving youth a place, is not the answer as they would be manipulated as is happening in the Universities which are usually closed for one reason or another.

Submitted by Dilinika on
Thank you for your insight and sharing your point of view. Yes I agree that unmet youth aspirations may have been just one cause and youth uprisings, a consequence of a deeper issue of our unfortunate history. Instead of dwelling in the past, I feel we should take it as a lesson and move on and make sure something as unfortunate as we all experienced would not happen again. Some of the great efforts youth of today are taking right now are commendable and noteworthy. I feel there is a lesson for all of us young and old to take from merely understanding and observing their efforts.

Submitted by Anonymous on
I loved my country. I had my postgraduate education overseas many decades age and had an opportunity of staying back and was in a sense persuaded by my supervisor but I came and gave what I know to my country although I belong to the minority group. I dream t over the years that country will realise all the mistakes and this country will be a wonderful place. This has not happened. Now the present situation this can be done if the people can take fearless, bold decisions without fearing anyone or putting self interest first. I do not want tpo say anything about the conflicts of the past but we have suffered and let us forget about sufferings we have undergone and with that look forward to bight future. I am very happy about this youth conference. Unlike my early days there are ample openings today where youth can participate in the development. Economic prosperity in one area. I Think the the world Bank has done well in getting this conference and each youth organisation can organise regular conferences and look into the needs of the country and bring out great understandings between different ethinic groups and help each other and make this country a wonderful place. I watch ERV 'Channel News Asia " every morning and note how Singapore and Malaysia grow and want to maintain their place in this world. I think the World Bank and the youth organisations and T stronlgy they change everything in this country. Anonymous

Submitted by Kailasapillai Sathes on
I feel there is a lesson for all of us young and old men and women to take from merely understanding , observing and do the efforts through their home land's verious developments. In this situation every body think others are human.They do not think about religion,cast,language,wealth.In our country specialy in North and East more than 90% of the pepople affected the ethnic war.The government can not consider the development each and every places. So these types of youth communities consider the country development through their own home town. Resently I red in a web site, they organazed a "Cooprative Society of Better Living Ltd" under the cooprative act in sri lanka.They start their prograss in southern province.Next year 2012, they start their activities in northen province.I sent a proposal through a member to this cooprative society.They consider the proposal. I attached here with the proposal for your consideration,how to develop the country? Though there is a culture of savings, very few families especially those living in remote rural areas have knowledge of the most advanced processes/techniques to invest resources to make maximum benefits. Some families living in post conflict areas and among cast/ethnically sensitive groups, are hesitant to pool and invest resources. The CSBL will organize special sessions to visualize the advantages of unity and harmony and benefits to be gained by pooling resources and establishing VCAs. 6. Introduction of new products and processes to enhance production and streamlining marketing to increase income: Research carried out indicates that there are a certain number of products that can be manufactured locally by VCAs. Streamlining production processes and adopting advanced techniques will enable higher incomes to be gained. The CSBL will coach and provide insight to members and VCAs on other processes and products and on the manner they can develop marketing channels. 7. Coaching and advocacy for better nutrition and prevention of abuse of intoxicants Surveys carried out among the destitute and low income families, revealed that very few of them prioritize the provision of nutritive food to pregnant mothers and children up to the age of five years. Some breadwinners of this segment of the population have resorted to drugs and alcohol to overcome their struggles, which also results in lack of savings, debt, inadequate healthcare and education, disharmony and conflicts. This has prevented the proper development of children especially their brainpower, resulting in reduced intelligence levels and creativity. These children emerging as youth are unable to take the lead to take care of their families and represent their communities. This has resulted in high dependency rates needing welfare and limited levels of advocacy from low income communities/families, for basic and other required services and rights. The CSBL, will work with state and non-state actors to identify the families that do not prioritize nutrition, organize visualization sessions to demonstrate the advantages of better nutrition and engage them to change their mindsets, to invest in their future. If lack of income is a factor for poor nutrition and is due to breadwinners not being certified, being unemployed-/underemployed or their inability to communicate (fluency in languages and marketability of talents/strengths) they will be coached to develop themselves and establish VCAs for group businesses. 8. Loans to the Ultra Economically Poor (UEP) There are many families that are UEP, who have the tendency of remaining UEP, unless root causes such as intergenerational transmission of poverty, lack of training, marginalization, lack of permanent addresses, non investment of resources due to lack of entrepreneurial ideas and/or trauma, lack of able bodied breadwinners etc. are studied and addressed. The CSBL will work with these groups to change mindsets, overcome the challenges, identify their Talents and Strengths and make them marketable, coach them to select economic activities, establish VCAs and either provide them loans to venture into enterprises or link them to banks. Caretaker families will be identified and linked to training and provided loans to invest and take care of the vulnerable, elderly, and differently abled, from the profits. C S B L Registered address: 54/2 Anura Mawatha off Anderson Road Dehiwala Sri Lanka Tel. : 0728569220 E-mail : info@csbllk.org Website: www.csbllk.org Registered number: i uq 37 Date of registration: 5th July, 2011 PARTNERS 1) Vocational and business training centres 2) Municipalities and local authorities 3) Civil society organizations 4) Village committees 5) Non-political & not-ethnically oriented groups 6) Micro-finance institutions and banks 7) Governmental and non-governmental organizations I. BACKGROUND, MISSION and STRATEGY The Cooperative Society for Better Living Ltd. (CSBL), was established to respond to the need to assure that everyone lives meaningfully and joyfully. The CSBL carries out assessments, baseline surveys and ethnographic studies to document the challenges that prevent families living abundantly. The assessments are carried out in communities and families that have difficulties in accessing services from state and non-state agencies, or/and those living in remote rural or disaster affected areas. The CSBL will seek the best options to enable the communities living with challenges to access services and resources. This could be by establishing advocacy channels with state actors to have access to basic services, promote bi/trilingual documents, vocational and entrepreneur training, increase courtesy by officers, protection against marginalization, injustice and resolve any other issues/problems; the CSBL will also work with other service providers and cooperatives in the respective areas to coach community members to strengthen their capacities to develop proposals, access funds and implement programs. For economic projects, the CSBL may partner with banks to have access to loans to be on lent and with aid organizations/donor agencies/the private sector and other organizations to have access to funds to implement projects. II. OBJECTIVE The objective of the CSBL is to enable all members and the communities and families it works with, to thrive by providing guidelines and training to unite, resolve issues and identify and market their skills/products/talents/strengths. III. MEMBERSHIP Membership is open to all Sri Lankans over 18 years of age. The members of the CSBL will have access to its services and resources to enhance the living conditions of their families, and communities. IV. ACTIVITIES OF THE CSBL 1. De-traumatization and counselling Many communities and families affected by disasters and destitution have been traumatized due to poverty, loss of loved ones and personal assets. Children, who have been abused, traumatized and forced to follow career paths alien to their likes, lose hope and take to drugs, alcohol and other intoxicants to overcome their problems. CSBL plans to carry out assessments with the assistance of relevant welfare groups and counsellors to determine the needs and provide psychological support and counselling to help them overcome their situation. 2. Identification of talents and purpose in life This activity consists of carrying out psychometric analysis of the different traits of family and community members to identify their talents/strengths (T/S). Identifying of T/S will also give an insight into their purpose of life. Once identified, the CSBL will coach them on the manner they can live their purpose and the manner their T/S can be marketed to earn sufficient income. Those who have strong organizational and leadership traits, are socially and democratically minded, will be coached to establish local Civil Society Organizations or branches of the CSBL. 3. Advice/coaching to establish goals It has been found that there are many who live aimlessly, or live the lives of others. The CSBL will coach members and the communities where it works to establish goals. Workshops will also be organized to develop strategies and work plans to achieve individual, business and organizational goals. 4. Developing enterprises and businesses The CSBL will work with members and communities to identify and develop profitable enterprises (farm, non-farm, cultivations and businesses). Once feasibility studies have been carried out, and depending on the availability of funds, the CSBL will venture into starting the enterprises. The CSBL will establish a roster of consultants to develop enterprises. Community Managed Production and Service centres may also be established to generate income. The CSBL will work with other organization to promote the development of organic farming and home gardens to enhance nutrition. 5. Provision of guidance and advice to establish Value Chain Associations (VCAs) In order to prevent community conflicts, in areas where there is destitution and suspicion due to atrocities and past hurts, the CSBL will establish VCAs to promote harmony and increase income levels. My proposal attachment: 1. This is a co-operative society that includes all communities and social activists. Its major objective is to support the initiatives of the government to bring about rapid socio-economic development in the war -affected areas after the end of the war. This organization has a vision of integrating all provinces in the country. Our initial efforts will commence in the Northern Province where the impact of the war is much more serious than other areas. It is possible to attract more investment through providing basic facilities ( pure drinking water, quality food, accommodation etc. ) to travellers, tourists, pilgrims and businessmen. Today all people of all ethnic groups are able to travel anywhere in the country without any barriers. 2. The diagram of the Co-operative Society Co-operative Society Head Quarters Provincial Office North East South West District Sub-Office Sub-Office Sub-Office Sub-Office Sub-Office Jaffna Kilinochchi Mullaitivu Vavuniya Mannar Our Objective To increase economic growth through villages by more development in production, employment, marketing, quality education, savings, investment, insurance, medical facilities and social welfare sectors. 3. Our Major Goals 1. Encourage school teaching - learning activities. 2. Conduct yoga classes, meditation, counselling etc., in all the villages to facilitate people to get rid of mental stress. 3. Conduct homes for elders. 4. Establish a state-of –the-art medical laboratory. 5. Establish industrial estate based on self-employment (Eg: readymade garments, producing concrete blocks. 6. Purifying water and find ways and means to get clean drinking water. 7. Convert salty water into pure water. 8. Convert barren land into arable land. 9. Take effort to establish OSUSALA branches in all areas. 10. Increase agricultural production, marketing and also to give incentives. 11. Increase milk production, marketing and also to give incentives. 12. Increase sea food production, marketing and also to give incentives. 13. Establish district-wise fuel stations. 14. Increase palmyrah production, marketing and also to give incentives. 15. Establish district-wise week-end marketing structures to enable the people to market their agricultural, livestock, fishing and other products 16. Make efforts to fix windmills in all villages and use them for irrigation and producing electricity 17. Commence cooperative banks / insurance institutions 18. Establish vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants with modern bakeries and manage them separately. 19. Build and manage resting place for travellers. 20. Establish a network of modern laundries. 21. Begin occupations related to construction industry. 22. Establish and manage supermarket system and organize separate shops for grocery, agricultural/sea food/ livestock products. 23. Establish children’s park, libraries with lending facilities ( with reasonable charges) that will benefit children and elderly people. 24. Establish international schools and manage them to cater from Grade one to GCE (AL) classes. These schools should have separate sections for all three languages and should have local and international curriculum. 4. Therefore, the following are the goals identified by our co-operative society: 1. All children should attend schools and pursue their learning. Identify the reasons for non-schooling and remove them. 2.Provide yoga, counselling etc., for the people who are suffering from mental stress so that they will get rid of such stress. 3. Provide self-employment opportunities to families affected by war and lost the head of the family and create enterprises and provide them job opportunities. 4. Establish a marketing organization under the co-operative society to market the end products of the self-employment enterprises. 5. Identify the villages and regions where agricultural activities, livestock and coconut production and fresh water prawn cultivation are very limited and give incentives to enhance their production capacity to their full potential and also find them marketing opportunities. 6. Introduce new agricultural crops; plant useful trees adequately; purify drinking water; introduce solar electricity producing equipments; produce maldive fish; give incentives to produce cadju nuts, orange, guava, pomegranate, rambuttan, mangustan, pineapple, young coconuts, drumstick, avocado etc. 5. Enterprises that should be established – more information 1. Educational bookshop This sales centre should have quality publications published in Tamil, Sinhala and English and also text books for school and university students. This bookshop should be established like the popular bookshops in Colombo such as Sarasavi Bookshop, Godage Bookshop, MD Gunasena Bookshop and Jeya Books Centre. 2. Fuel Filling Station This should be established near Jaffna Fort/ Pannai area as all pilgrims and tourists have to pass that area to go to Naina Tivu and Naga Deepa. Further, it is also useful for the long distance private buses to get fuel. This fuel filling centre can be established separately with permission or with collaboration with IOC. 3. Seafood Processing Factory This factory can be established with other export-oriented organizations or separately. At present maldive fish production is carried out with the guidance of NORAD. This can lead to save foreign exchange by reducing import of maldive fish and also to make more income. 4. Milk Processing Factory Milk production is carried out mostly in Kilinochi, Mullaitivu, Mankulam and island areas.In these areas milk collection centres should be established to process milk. Pure milk should be sold in packets and bottles. Further, milk products such as yoghurt, curd, ghee, cheese etc can also be produced. 5. Establishment of marketing centre for the purchase and sale of agricultural products Agricultural products should be purchased immediately at reasonable prices by the collection centres established in these areas. The products should be cleaned, packed safely and marketed. If there is more production, relevant crops can be dried for sustainable supply for a long time. Mushroom production, beehives/honey production and cadjunuts production should also be encouraged. 6. Development of Palmyra products Quality products should be purchased at reasonable prices and sold; instruction should be made for quality production and priority should be given for quality jaggery, Palmyra sugar etc., 7. A branch of OSUSALA should be established with the support of State Pharmaceuticals Corporation and sell medical products at reasonable prices and also supply needed materials to hospitals. 8. Increase the use of equipments for purification of water and also solar electricity panels; establish service centres for these equipments and also give training for servicing. 9. Take action to convert unused arable land / barren lands into arable lands. 10. Take action to initiate in all villages to use windmills for irrigation and electrification. 11. Take initiative to explore and implement schemes to convert salty water into drinking water. 12. Establish industrial estates based on self- employment. Eg: Encourage quality production of readymade garments, batiks, less-heavy steel furniture, eco-friendly polythene products, sarongs , house-hold things made out of coconut/Palmyra such as broomstick, mats,brushes etc. Establish sarong industry in the Northern province like that of Batticaloa. 13. Establish co-operative banks/ Insurance institutions and provide more interest rates for members. Further, provide employment and training opportunities and also compensations to them. 14. Establish and manage home for elderly people. 15. Conduct in all villages yoga classes, meditation and counselling to help people to get rid of mental stress. 16. Establish and manage a restaurant with a modern bakery. It is important to manage separately vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants. Necessary materials for these restaurants can be purchased from the cooperative society sub-agents. 17. Establish rest rooms for travellers in important places. 18. Establish modern laundries for washing clothes. 19. Establish a factory for the production of concrete blocks using machineries for construction industry. 20. Establish a medical centre with all medical facilities for channelling and testing. This can cater for the immediate needs of people and also patients can have more time for further treatment. These initiatives should be undertaken at long time basis. Consequently, the investors will be able to get appropriate profits for their investments and the members will be able to get benefits and concessions. This also will lead each and every village to enjoy educational, economic and social development and uplift themselves to regional and national level standards.

Submitted by Nishantha Mallawaarachchi(Dip Youth Development) on
Many youth issues remain unaddressed also because youth lack sufficient access to the decision making process. Leadership and commitment to participation in decision-making processes is not at a satisfactory level among Sri Lankan youth and in addition, in a culture that venerates age and experience, there is little space for young people to reach leadership positions. Dissatisfaction and frustration of youth, specially the educated rural youth, is already recognized as one of the major threats to the political stability of the country. National insurgencies led by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in the early 1970s and late 1980s has been attributed mainly to the failure of national mechanisms to address issues such as unemployment, class disparities, and unequal distribution of resources to rural areas as compared to Colombo (the commercial capital). It has been argued that the 1971 and 1987 insurrections and contemporary youth politics reflect dissatisfaction with the domination of the Sri Lankan political and administrative structures by upper middle class elite (Serasundara, 1998). Despite publicly provided free education from primary level all the way to tertiary levels, the education system in Sri Lanka is primarily blamed for youth employment. Many young people believe that the education system has failed to fulfil their career aspirations. For rural, monolingual youth, a common sentiment is that the English language is used by the urban elite as “a sword of oppression” and that access to learning the language has not been fair. Fuelling the discontent was the emergence of bureaucratic inefficiencies, corruption and apathy in governance (Presidential Commission on Youth 1990; de Silva and Peiris 1995). Despite there being 13 nationally recognized universities in the country, they can accommodate only 2% of eligible candidates. In addition, many universities lack resources and qualified and able teaching staff. Many feel that there is a mismatch between the education curricula and labour market. Insufficient knowledge of English and lack of practical training has been one of the deciding factors for this situation. However, of late there has been more focus on skills development through vocation training institutes but they are yet to have a significant impact on youth employment. Even though the government is developing strategies to reduce the information gap by establishing modernized facilities such as Internet access in post offices, NENASALAs in rural areas, many young people cannot access these facilities owing to economic constraints. Although some universities are now offering diplomas and university degrees in new fields with good career prospects, information on these new opportunities is not readily available.

Submitted by Stephanie on
Great story! Here's another moving piece that highlights the youth movement in Sri Lanka. After nearly three decades of conflict in Sri Lanka, local youth are leading the way in the reconciliation process. A youth movement has united young Sri Lankans from different ethnic, religious and social groups nationwide and in the diaspora. It has also inspired young people in other countries to follow their lead. Read more: http://globalpressinstitute.org/global-news/asia/sri-lanka/youth-lead-reconciliation-efforts-post-conflict-sri-lanka#ixzz1a1iWMrzi

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