Consultative Committees for livelihood, awareness and social
A further series of Divisional Seceretariat Reconciliation meetings
was held in Mannar and Kilinochchi Districts on April 24 and 25. The
first two in Madhu and Musali saw participation by a large number of
Grama Niladharis, while helpful information and ideas were provided by
Education and Health and other officials. A representative of the
International Organization for Migration attended one meeting, and a
peace educationist the other.
A primary school in Manthai East where children moved on
April 25 into an attractive new building
Amongst problems noted were the difficulties of ensuring decent
prices for the good harvests that were being obtained, the need to
promote value addition to agricultural produce, and deficiencies with
regard to training and career opportunities. It was decided therefore
that Grama Niladharis should conduct Livelihood Development meetings
each week, to discuss with the people for whom they were responsible the
new initiatives that should be undertaken.
In a context in which there were many aid programmes that addressed
problems on an ad hoc basis, it would be useful if GN Divisions set out
wishlists of the following amongst other initiatives –
a) Facilities and training needed for value addition for agriculture
and fishing products
b) Vocational training needs with special attention to local
requirements in construction and potential investments in the area
c) Awareness programmes to develop cooperative efforts and
Another committee that it was decided should be set up was an
Awareness and Protection Committee that would discuss problems that
might arise, and promote solutions based on community cooperation. With
regard to health, it was noted that better education was required with
regard to problems ranging from dengue and drugs to reproductive health.
Partnerships needed to be developed with education and health
officials to ensure better awareness, with mechanisms for counseling for
those in need. The Women and Children’s desks of Police stations should
participate in such meetings, whilst personnel dedicated to each GN
division would be expected to liaise closely, on a daily basis if
possible, with Grama Niladharis, to develop systems of advice and rapid
reaction in case of problems.
In particular Grama Niladharis should maintain lists of the
vulnerable, single women, single parent families, those in grave
economic need, students dropping out of school. They would encourage
social support through local support groups, with provision for
counseling if needed. Close liaison with the various officials
responsible for social service would be required, while the community
should endeavour to develop programmes for productive employment for the
vulnerable in need.
The final area in which it was agreed that better coordination was
needed was that of cultural and social activity. GN divisions should set
standards for schools with regard to extra-curricular activities, and
encourage Principals and the education department to promote socially
useful organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, the St.
John’s Ambulance Brigade and Cadeting. There should also be provision
for sports and cultural activity that provided a full education for
students instead of concentration simply on book learning. Education
departments should maintain records of what was achieved in this regard
by Principals and encourage liaison with institutions that could provide
support for such activity.
The Cultural and Social Committee could also encourage the provision
of entertainment at local centres through film shows, with requests for
material from embassies as well as other international organizations.
Enterprising students could be encouraged, through Interact Clubs or
similar organizations, to develop programmes that would serve the
community whilst bringing people together. One obvious area in which
local initiatives could contribute to employment needs as well as
reconciliation was that of language learning. Grama Niladharis, working
with school Principals if necessary, should encourage spoken language
classes for all three national languages.
The Police could contribute actively to this whilst helping
themselves, in contributing as teachers to Spoken Sinhala classes while
benefiting by learning Tamil from those they were teaching. Such classes
should only be for conversation, and it was heartening to come across a
few senior Grama Niladharis who could easily conduct Spoken English
classes for youngsters by sparing an hour a week. They certainly seemed
willing, and while it would be optimistic to think that all Grama
Niladharis could carry out the various programmes decided on, it is
likely that a few in each Division could work effectively and make a
great difference to the futures of those in their charge.