Students and Staff of the Vocational Training Authority honoured at the Youth and Community Resilience Project Showcase & Active Citizen Certificate Awards Ceremony 2018/19.
In September 2018, Muslim Aid Sri Lanka supported by the British Council teamed up with the Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka to instigate the Youth and Community Resilience (YCR) Programme – an initiative that aimed to reach youth engaged in technical education by providing social skills development training that have been identified as essential to perform as an effective Employee, Entrepreneur and overall as a responsible “Active Citizen’ of the country.
The purpose of the programme was to enable students to understand different cultures, communities and their norms and values through group work and activities under social skill development. The YCR programme has succeeded in this regard, as stories from the active citizens serve to prove so. Students who were part of the programme have become socially aware and this is a promising development; as it has the potential create a paradigm shift in their communities regarding socio-political issues. The programme has thus created a network among students and provided them an invaluable platform to build professional relationships among them
Hundred youth who were enrolled for technical education courses at Vocational Training Centers, and twenty five VTA lecturers from different religious and cultural backgrounds were trained through the Active Citizens Training Framework & Toolkit used in the British Council’s Global Active Citizens (AC) programme by the British Council. To honour and celebrate the completion of the training and successful implementation of Social Action Projects by the VTA Staff and Students, an Awarding Ceremony and Project Showcase was held on the 29th of October at the BCIS Olympus Auditorium, BMICH. The occasion was graced by Mr. Ravi Jayawardana, Chairman – Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka as the chief guest , and other distinguished guests; Ms. Gill Caldicott, Country Director – British Council, Mr. Faizer Khan , Country Director – Muslim Aid Sri Lanka, Ms. Amy O’Brien, 1st Secretary, Peacebuilding and Reconciliation Adviser – British High Commission of Sri Lanka; and Mrs. Chulangani Perera, Director General – Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka The event featured a video documentary, depicting the journey of the YCR programme participants and its impact. Followed by a 6-chair panel discussion; moderated in all 3 languages, which was a sharing of experiences by students and an instructor of the Vocational Training Authority Sri Lanka; an Active Citizen Master Facilitator and a parent of one of the students. Ms. Vinoja, a VTA student from Batticaloa, who successfully implemented a community project and attended the awards ceremony expressed her thoughts on the programme saying “I was a shy and quiet person, but through the Active Citizens Training I have gained leadership skills and improved my ability to communicate effectively. At the same time was given the opportunity to build good relationships with other youth and communities who follow a different faith, particularly the Muslim Community”.
A showcase of 10 community projects conceptualised, developed and delivered by the VTA Active Citizens from 3 districts (Anuradhapura, Batticaloa and Trincomalee) was later declared open for viewing, where guests were able to witness the efforts of Active Citizens, their immediate achievements and the outreach of social initiatives that had potential to resolve community issues in the long run. Speaking at the event, Mr Faizer Khan Country Director MASL said: “I believe that by building community resilience, the youth will emerge as leaders and be able to adapt to changes and face any challenges they may face. This will create community cohesion and positively contribute to the sustainable development process of the country”
Following the success of Phase One, the YCR programme is expected to extend its reach beyond the three districts of Anuradhapura, Batticaloa and Trincomalee. This customized social skills development programme using the active citizens core methodology (with additional input sessions) is projected to be institutionalised at Vocational Training Centers to reach almost 35000 youth in 212 centers of by the Vocational Training Authority in Sri Lanka as a complementary learning module to the technical skills curriculum.