In post war Sri Lanka, its always good to find stories of ‘struggling success’ in the middle of a very ‘organic’ reconciliation process. When this involves two conflict related issues in Sri Lanka, access to education and youth unemployment it becomes a critical story in Sri Lanka’s post war context. Something that must be addressed if we are to defeat the demons of our past.
Mr. N. Thamilalagan returned back to Sri Lanka approximately two years ago. He then became involved with the Ministry of Science and Technology, aiding villages based on the level of poverty in their GN divisions to have access to new technology. About 1 year ago he began the process of setting up the “Cambridge Management College” in Jaffna, Northern Province, Sri Lanka with two aims. Firstly, he wanted to give youth who just finished their A levels or O levels access to knowledge that will help them in a practical manner in the future. Hence, he designed a program which was centered around teaching Jaffna youth; English, Sinhala, IT, Management and Personality Skill Development. In addition to this he wanted to give local university graduates a opportunity to find employment in the field of education and a chance to “get a first foot into” the field of education at the local level.
It has taken him almost 1 year to do this with 6 months being totally dedicated to establish and equip the Cambridge Management College. It has recently started teaching 20 students broken into 2 batches, employing 9 lecturers to teach and manage the courses. It has begun courses in French, German and English recently. The Cambridge Management College is located in # 23, Katecheri Nallur Road, Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Its website will be up and running soon (www.cmcjaffna.edu.lk) for you to obtain more details about it.
Mr. Thamilalaghan and a majority of people I spoke to say that a large number of university graduates find’s it difficult for them to find employment in Jaffna. They feel that it’s hard for them to find adequate employment because they are only being taught ‘theoretical knowledge’ in university. They are not taught ‘practical skills’ such as entrepreneurship, the usage of Information Technology and English. Having such subjects would give them an ‘edge’ in finding employment. In addition to this they felt that recruitment of university graduates into government jobs or private jobs is highly politicized and, at times based on caste affiliation. ‘Patronage’ plays a large role within a distorted political and caste based employment system. Some interviewees stated that “people in government offices always recruit from their own area such as Induvil and Kottakovil, it’s about political and personal influence”.
Empowering Community based Teacher’s: Empowering Communities through Advocacy & Activism for Education Rights
1. There are approximately 6000 unemployed graduates in Jaffna (according to the Jaffna Student Union President). Have a pilot program in which you recruit 100 teachers (2 teachers from one village. Pay them about RS 5000 rupees each for 12 months. Start with 50 Villages.
2. By training unemployed graduates in relation to Education Rights and empowering them to facilitate education services at the community level the following overall outcomes can be achieved: (1) graduates will find a basic first employment opportunity and (2) communities at the grass roots level will have access to education services and (3) communities will have access to education rights advocacy and activism.
By Kanishka Ratnapriya & N. Thamilalagan