The second phase of the Course for Community Catalysts’ concludes
The second phase of the Course for Community Catalysts’ in the districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu concluded with the awarding of certificates to the 124 participants, on 9 February 2013, at Hotel Sudu Araliya in Pollonnaruwa.
A flagship programme promoting youth leadership development carried out through the Local Governance Programme (LoGoPro) of UNDP, implemented by the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs (MPA&HA), it was conducted by the Community Interaction Cell of the Vavuniya Campus of the University of Jaffna. The programme brought together all the students who had successfully completed the course to share ideas and formulate strategies of engagement for the future.
The certificate awarding ceremony for the districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu was held with the participation of Professor Vasanthy Arasaratnam, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna, Prof. T Velnampy, Dean of the Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce, and 10 other academic staff of the University of Jaffna. Mr Jinasiri Dadallage, the Project Manager of LoGoPro/ Additional Secretary (Home Affairs) of MPA&HA, and Mr Rajendrakumar Ganesarajah, the Assistant Country Director of UNDP, graced the occasion, representing the Ministry and UNDP, along with several officials from Colombo and regional areas.
The award ceremony was compered by Mr Karunanithy, the Course Coordinator and Senior Lecturer; University of Jaffna, with participation by 15 lecturers of the University of Jaffna; Mrs R Ketheeswaran, Government Agent, Kilinochchi; Mr N Vethanayahan, GA, Mullaitivu; and many other government officials representing the districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.
Speaking during the occasion, the Dean of the Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce of the University of Jaffna, Prof. Velnamby, stated that UNDP funds that were utilized for the Community Catalysts’ Course was not an expenditure, but a significant investment. Elaborating on his statement, he went on to say that through the proposals prepared by students as a result of this course, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has allocated funds of Rs. 4 million and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has also promised a further allocation to carry forward development activities in these areas. He further stated that whatever the money that was spent, has been earned, several-fold, through the students’ involvement and enterprising attitude, as displayed by the development activities that were already underway, and planned for the future.
Also addressing the gathering, Mrs Vilvarajah, the Director, District Planning of Mullaitivu stated that the availability of human resources to assist in villages after resettlement, existed at an extremely low level. “Subsequently, with UNDP assistance we were able to train youth on the needs of the village. With the conclusion of the programme the engagement of youth has escalated and we can see the assistance they give in the development activities in the village”, she further added.
Director District Planning of Kilinochchi, Mr Mohanadasan added that these youth can play a significant role in strengthening CBOs by assisting them with report writing and communication related activities that the course has trained them on. He further added that the town areas have been developed but the villages are lagging behind in development in Kilinochchi. Therefore, there was much work to be carried out in those areas too. The Divisional Secretary from Palai in Kilinochchi and the DS from Thunakai in Mullaitivu also expressed their views on the occasion, and held open forums with the student participants to initiate engagement in assisting with local needs.
The participants of the course also expressed their views and aspirations for future development of their villages. Subsequently, they discussed the pressing issues faced by each DS division and their solutions for the future. As such, presentations were made on Thunakkai, Kandawalai, Kilinochchi, Poonakari, Maritanpattu, Manthai East, Oddusudan, and Karachchi DS divisions on the involvement of youth and moving forward with development.
The enthusiastic participation, sharing of ideas, and discussion of way forward was significant to note in that it clearly demonstrated the change that had taken place in the lives of these youth, who had been somewhat hesitant at the commencement of the course. However, with various activities that prompted them to interact with others and present their ideas confidently, it could be seen that they had changed in to leaders who were ready to take on the development needs of their respective communities and move forward confidently in coordination with the government and other local development partners to bring prosperity to their localities.