Religious schools curriculum amended to include national reconciliation

Jaffna Dialogue calls for durable solutions to peoples issues

 by Zacki Jabbar

Under a programme introduced by President Maithripala Sirisena, national integration and  reconciliation has been introduced into the curriculum of religious schools.

Implementation of the Action Plan initiated by the President, in his capacity as the Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation, was discussed  at the recent Jaffna Dialogue, attended by over a 1,000 teachers  from all faiths.

 Secretary Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation V. Sivagnanasothy said that the objective of the programme entitled "Institutionalising National Integration and Reconciliation in the Religious Schools Education System" was to create a conflict free, united and reconciled society where people respected each others religions and worked towards establishing a prosperous and contended society.

The Jaffna Dialogue held at Weerasingham Hall underscored the importance of national integration and sustainable peace, which is considered a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development goals.

 The participants concurred that in a pluralistic society, religion had the power and potential to unite people of different ethnicities since all religions extolled the virtues of kindness, love, compassion, forgiveness, equity, brotherhood and mutual respect.

 Incorporating the concept of reconciliation into religious teaching, had assumed a new dimension due to children of the previous generation being "Cultural Children", whereas today’s children were "Technology Children."

 The teachers read out the National Declaration on Reconciliation and affirmed their commitment to serve as Peace Messengers and Change Agents so that children could grow up to be good citizens.

 They resolved to work towards eliminating religious bigotry and racial hatred and support the government’s ongoing programme aimed at durable solutions such as release of private lands to rightful owners, housing programmes, social and economic infrastructure, livelihood opportunities and other economic empowerment schemes to provide employment to youth and engage them in the development process.

 Sivananasothy said that religious school teachers were being given knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) training in integration and reconciliation. "Training materials and knowledge products are being developed with the support of the various Religious Departments to empower teachers to effectively contribute as peace messengers.

 Among those present at the meeting were religious leaders representing all faiths, Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council C. V. K. Sivagnanam, Consulate General of the High Commission of India in Jaffna A. Nadarajan, Jaffna District Secretary N. Vethanayahan, Northern Provincial Council Chief Secretary A. Pathinathan, Secretary to the Governor of the Northern Province L. Ilangovan and Divisional Secretaries.

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