News and Events

The European Union launches programme to reduce poverty in Uva and Central Provinces

November 29th, 2017

The European Union launched one of the largest programmes of development support in the country. The European Union will contribute Rs. 5.4 billion in to reduce poverty in the provinces by improving the income of poor people living in rural areas and helping to ensure that they have enough food to eat, even in times of hardship. Speaking […]

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Celebrating partnerships – An exhibition on five years of collaboration under the EU-Support to District Development Programme

October 17th, 2017

An exhibition celebrating partnerships built over the course of five years opened in Mannar and Vavuniya on 10 October and 12 October respectively.  The event is part of the European Union’s Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP), which helps the poorest communities in Sri Lanka by providing basic infrastructure and services that benefit the local […]

Read More

The Government of Sri Lanka, European Union, United Nations and IFC jointly inaugurate the exhibition ‘Celebrating Partnerships’

October 17th, 2017

The roaming exhibition which was showcased in the Northern Province has now reached the districts of Ampara and Batticaloa. Inaugurated on 17 October in Ampara and 19 October in Battlicaloa, the pictures show a series of development work that has been done to address the needs of the population. This exhibition is part of the […]

Read More

EU and FAO improves the capacity of local service providers to better serve the rural fisher and farmer communities in the North

September 20th, 2017

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the European Union (EU) has completed renovation of the Agriculture Adaptive Research Center, and the Government Seed Production Farm located in Thandikulam in the Vavuniya district. The improvement of the two institutions will contribute immensely towards agricultural development and modernization in the […]

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EU & ILO helps develop skills among youth in Mannar

September 20th, 2017

Creating job opportunities for young people and promoting “Productive employment and decent work” are important elements in the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) mandate. As a former conflict-affected region, Mannar is now moving towards rehabilitation and sustainable development where human capacity development plays a key role in reaching the goals set by the government of Sri Lanka. As […]

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CHANGING COURSE

Posted on: September 13th, 2017 by Admin No Comments

Rebuilding schools by responding to multiple challenges

Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, 24 July 2017 – “The children of this area had so much to deal with, their lives were affected in many ways due to the war,” says Karthi Sabaratnam, UNICEF Education Officer. “The children needed to recover as fast as they possibly could, they could not afford to fall back once again. Losing out on education would mean losing out on so much more.”

From 1983 to 2009, Sri Lanka experienced intermittent but continuous violent armed conflict between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This caused severe disruption to the provision of services, including education, particularly in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The Panrikkeithakulam School in Vavuniya is located in what was the border area between the conflict- and non-conflict zones – a on no-man’s-land. In the final years of the violent conflict the school was deserted – with people leaving the area for safer ground – and soon occupied by the armed forces.

When the bunkers were removed, and the school started again, some of the first lessons introduced were by UNICEF – on mine risk education. Not long afterwards, UNICEF was back with OfERR, the local partner, implementing an initiative of the European Union’s Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP) to help rebuild schools in an approach that took not just the physical aspects that had to be improved in the school into account, but also the ‘software’ aspects, which were perhaps even more crucial.

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The EU-SDDP approach was responsive to the range of challenges identified by the school community

EU-SDDP support ranged from the renovation of classrooms and the building of toilets to improving health and hygiene practices, developing the capacity of teachers to create a child-friendly environment, and addressing the challenge of out-of-school children.

“Parents who had returned to the area after the war had many priorities, getting children back to school again wasn’t always on the top of the list.  The EU-SDDP played a major role in changing this mindset,” says Arumoham Ramya, OfERR’s Child Friendly Education Promoter. “But parents are key to the progress of a child. We needed to improve their involvement.” The parents and teachers together produced a School Development Plan. Once this was done, they started to address the priorities one by one, starting with the building of two classrooms, toilets, and hand washing units.

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The new toilets were prioritized needs

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The computers have been repaired and the computer room is in operation again.

In parallel, OfERR started talking to the parents about school attendance – something the organisation describes as “a huge effort”. An Attendance Committee of  parents and teachers, was activated, with committee members making home visits in response to irregular attendance. Students whose school attendance is good are given badges in recognition of their commitment. Giving badges motivates children and also creates health competition among children to win badges, there by children try hard to improve on their attendance.

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Students are motivated to attend school regularly

 “Basic hygiene practices have also been introduced,” says Rasaiah Thanabalasingham, the school principal. “Earlier it was difficult to manage the mid-day meal without proper hand washing facilities.  Now that we have the new hand-washing unit, the task is much easier.”  EU-SDDP conducted hygiene promotion sessions with school children along with hand washing demonstrations.

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New hand washing units facilitated the hygiene promote efforts
Menstrual hygiene is an entirely new subject introduced to secondary school students. “We had a special session on menstrual hygiene in school. Since we had discussions on menstrual hygiene I no longer miss school nor sports activities when I have my period,” says Rani Chandrashan, a student. “I’ve shared this information with my sisters and friends. There are many superstitions surrounding menstruation, one that still continues is that we should not draw water from the well when we are menstruating.  We were also asked not to run around. Now things are changing.  We can speak confidently to our parents.  We can influence them.  Our grandparents used to say that if we bathe when we have our period our body will become weak.  But we now know that is a myth.”  UNICEF has begun discussions with government and NGO partners to strengthen provincial and district level mechanisms to review and mainstream menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in schools.

Capacity building of teachers was an important part of the initiative, and introducing the child friendly approach to education was key.  Teachers took part in visits to model Child Friendly Schools in different parts of the country. “We observed both the primary and secondary schools,” states Kokila Selvanayagam, the grade 2 teacher. “One important aspect we learnt was about making teaching tools more interesting to the students using local resources. We also learnt not to prescribe things too much, to encourage children to use their imagination.  We have become more sensitive to children’s emotional aspects. We have a better understanding of child psychology.  Every month we rearrange the classroom – all the children are asked for their opinions.  They have a sense of ownership.”

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Children have a growing sense of ownership in their school

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The school reintroduced regular physical activities.

EU-SDDP has enabled over 30,000 children have benefited from improved learning environments through the renovations of nearly 100 schools and over 1,000 school officials have gained skills in school planning, improving student learning and attendance promotion in seven districts in Sri Lanka.

WHAT HAS CHANGED

  • The introduction of the Child Friendly School concept is facilitating the recovery of education in conflict-affected areas.
  • Schools are combining infrastructure development with the promotion of hygiene practices.
  • Effective dropout prevention mechanisms have been put in place and children who have already dropped out are reintegrated.
  • Teachers acquire skills and resources to meet the particular learning needs of children affected physically, psychologically and economically by the violent conflict.
  • Slow learners and slow achievers from vulnerable communities gain momentum in their classroom education.
  • Parents have become an important part of school planning, management and development.

The European Union Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP) is a Euro 60 million partnership between the European Union, the Sri Lankan government, UNICEF and other UN agencies to create greater access to social infrastructure and services for vulnerable communities in the districts of Ampara, Batticaloa, Mannar, Vavuniya and border villages in the districts of Puttalam, Anuradhapura and Monaragala.

 

 

News and Events

The European Union launches programme to reduce poverty in Uva and Central Provinces

November 29th, 2017

The European Union launched one of the largest programmes of development support in the country. The European Union will contribute Rs. 5.4 billion in to reduce poverty in the provinces by improving the income of poor people living in rural areas and helping to ensure that they have enough food to eat, even in times of hardship. Speaking […]

Read More

Celebrating partnerships – An exhibition on five years of collaboration under the EU-Support to District Development Programme

October 17th, 2017

An exhibition celebrating partnerships built over the course of five years opened in Mannar and Vavuniya on 10 October and 12 October respectively.  The event is part of the European Union’s Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP), which helps the poorest communities in Sri Lanka by providing basic infrastructure and services that benefit the local […]

Read More

The Government of Sri Lanka, European Union, United Nations and IFC jointly inaugurate the exhibition ‘Celebrating Partnerships’

October 17th, 2017

The roaming exhibition which was showcased in the Northern Province has now reached the districts of Ampara and Batticaloa. Inaugurated on 17 October in Ampara and 19 October in Battlicaloa, the pictures show a series of development work that has been done to address the needs of the population. This exhibition is part of the […]

Read More

EU and FAO improves the capacity of local service providers to better serve the rural fisher and farmer communities in the North

September 20th, 2017

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the European Union (EU) has completed renovation of the Agriculture Adaptive Research Center, and the Government Seed Production Farm located in Thandikulam in the Vavuniya district. The improvement of the two institutions will contribute immensely towards agricultural development and modernization in the […]

Read More

EU & ILO helps develop skills among youth in Mannar

September 20th, 2017

Creating job opportunities for young people and promoting “Productive employment and decent work” are important elements in the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) mandate. As a former conflict-affected region, Mannar is now moving towards rehabilitation and sustainable development where human capacity development plays a key role in reaching the goals set by the government of Sri Lanka. As […]

Read More