UNFPA in partnership with the Ministry of Youth presents a discussion with school students, undergraduates, lecturers, youth ministry members and other stakeholders on issues surrounding youth and gender-based violence, education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
- Ajith Ranasinghe, Sabargamuwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, “Entrepreneurship is viewed as something negative in the Sabaragamuwa province. So much so that most young people steer clear of entrepreneurship opportunities. This is because the entrepreneurs here see it as a means of making a quick buck and have no aspirations to expand. They have grown into a sort of mafia. They see new entrepreneurs as a threat and do whatever it takes to destroy new businesses. Today we need to find a way to overcome this challenge”.
- Manel Kularathne, Divisional Secretary of Yathiyantota:”It’s true that there is a mafia in the entrepreneur’s circle in Sabaragamuwa, but we must not forget that most of these entrepreneurs started out as young and eager individuals who were genuine and not corrupted by the circle to stay relevant. Most of them now use political clout to keep new entrepreneurs from emerging. We need to find a way to challenge this. We need to create an environment where young people feel free and are encouraged to become entrepreneurs”.
- Each group discusses on of following topics to improve education in the Sabaragamuwa province –
- How can we make learning enjoyable for students
- Learning through activities
- Using technology for learning
- Learning what you like/what is not in the present school curriculum in Sri Lanka.
- Teaching techniques in Sri Lanka are archaic. It’s a teacher or lecture speaking to a class of 40 to 100 students. There is almost no interaction between the student and teacher.
- Annuradha Bernard, Sabaragamuwa Undergraduate of Sport Science: “Sri Lanka needs more creative ways to educate students. Instead of being made to simple memorise the periodic table they can be taught to remember it in a more interesting way. One way of achieving this can be through the use of new technology. But in order to do this we must first train teachers and lecturers to use technology, to get familiar with it. This way our teachers will be of international standards. Technology can also be used encourage people to suggest and affect policies. Right now it’s a top down structure but this can change by encouraging young people to use technology. However, we must bare in mind that there are certain evils in using technology as well. Young people can become victims of cyber abuse or they themselves may misuse technology.
- After a quick tea break, we go right into the next session on vocational training. Topics of discussion for the teams are
- How important is vocational training for development in Sri Lanka
- What are the avenues through which youth can access vocational training
- What are the gaps in vocational training and how can we address them
- The discussion gets heated as the Divisional Secretariat of Balangoda, Niroshan Dharmadasa, argues: “We’ve been talking about vocational training for the past 30 years, when are we going to update vocational training in Sri Lanka. We must look towards using technology to improve vocational training. To add to that, the recruiting process for vocation training needs to be improved. There are youth who fail the A/L exams and cannot get into universities, at the same time there are students who miss the university entrance requirement score by a hairsbreadth and others achieve the grades but for unavoidable circumstances are unable to enter university. We need to stop pushing so hard for these students to enrol in vocational training, but create opportunities for them to earn a university degree – perhaps even through a private institute. This is something the government must consider.”
Public Relations Officer for the Sri Lankan Police Department, Colin Ariyaratne, says the Vagrants Ordinance is outdated and actually perpetuates abuse of women. #GenderBasedViolence #ViolenceAgiantWomen
He goes on to say, “Everyday the police station gets about 5 to 10 complaints about abuse and rape. When journalists call the police department for the news round, they only ask about the number of rapes for the day. They don’t seem to realise that abuse is just as bad.
If they were to report on these issues it would take the entire news segment as there are so many gory stories from around the country”.
- According to Dr. Azmi Thaibudeen, Advisor on HIV AIDS and a doctor of the Ratnapura General Hospital, there are on average 14 cases of abuse and 800 illegal abortions at day in Sri Lanka. Ratnapura is the third highest area in Sri Lanka for child abuse.
- According to police statistics 2 to 3kgs of heroin is circulated islandwide, Dr. Thaibudeen says “so imagine what the actual number might be?”