Post-war EU-UNICEF boost for N&E education


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Eradication of the LTTE has paved the way for those living in the Northern and Eastern Provinces to receive a range of assistance from the international community, primarily through various INGOs based in Sri Lanka.

According to External Affairs and Defence ministries, since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, the international community had provided substantial support for resettlement, reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in spite of a section of the Tamil Diaspora working overtime against Sri Lanka.

The LTTE did not allow major projects unless the Colombo-based embassies and INGOs had agreed to work through the organization. Unfortunately those pressing the government over accountability issues had conveniently forgotten how the LTTE had exploited Tamil speaking population for strategic military purposes until the very end of the Vanni offensive, Maj. General Shavendra Silva, Sri Lanka’s No 2 at the UN said.

The first General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the famed 58 Division told The Island whatever the critics said about the conflict and post-war situation in the country, Tamil speaking people now realized that their children were safe. "They are free to learn at government schools and join universities depending on their GCE AL qualifications. That is the bottom line. The enemy cannot distort facts," Ambassador Silva emphasized. The Gajaba regiment veteran pointed out that the rapid development of schools was evidence of peaceful environment in the once war-ravaged Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The General said that Education Zones in the two Provinces had received substantial assistance since the conclusion of the conflict.

Senior Minister Dew Gunasekera, who once oversaw the ongoing rehabilitation programme implemented for LTTE cadres, told The Island that terrorists deprived children of education. The General Secretary of the Communist Party said that those concerned about HR abuses should inquire into the circumstances, under which he LTTE coerced thousands of children to arms. The Oslo-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) had recorded just a fraction of the abductions carried out by the LTTE during 2002-2005 period, he said.

The UNICEF recently established a new school and a health clinic in the Trincomalee district to tackle malnutrition among children aged below 5 and high level of anemia among women. About 900 students are expected to be benefited by the new EU initiative The EU funded the project as part of its ongoing plans to re-build the two Provinces.

An EU statement quoted EU Ambassador/Head of Delegation, Bernard Savage as having said: "Education and health are two of the key sectors the EU constantly looks to improve. We have no doubt these new facilities will benefit the most vulnerable communities of the Trincomalee District and aide them in realizing their hopes for a better education and a healthy life."

UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative, Reza Hossaini, said: "This generous investment from the EU provides a valuable opportunity to improve the learning opportunities of children from vulnerable communities and to tackle disparities in health care for children and women, all of which is vitally important as Sri Lanka seeks to build a sustainable peace and economic growth."

An EU grant of over LKR 39 million (EUR 261,000) paved the way for the construction of 30 classrooms, a science laboratory, teachers’ quarters, pipe borne water and sanitation for the pupils of the T/M Elangaithuraimugathuwaram Hindu College, in Eechilampatthu, near Trincomalee, a spokesperson said. LKR five million (EUR 33,260) had been spent on the Gramodaya Health Centre, in Pallikuirruppu, Mutur, the spokesperson said. This would provide the local communities with family planning, antenatal and immunisation services as well as growth monitoring of infants, supplementary food and other treatment for children suffering from acute malnourishment, the EU said.

Both facilities were officially opened during ceremonies on Friday, February 3, attended by UNICEF Representative, Reza Hossaini and the EU Head of Operations, Willy Vandenberghe.

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