Major General Shavendra Silva, Acting Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations speaking on the advancement of Girl Child Education in Sri Lanka at the UN said, the Government took concerted action to rehabilitate and reintegrate all former child combatants.
‘Among them, 351 were girls. Knowing that these children had been forced to take up arms instead of school books, the Government of Sri Lanka adopted a dynamic approach towards their reintegration’.
Such an approach was based on the principles of women empowerment, livelihood training, psycho-social support, and above all, restorative justice, he said.
For those who missed the opportunity of experiencing a childhood and a formal education, arrangements have been made through the “catch up schools” to enable them to complete the General Certificate of Education examinations, irrespective of their current age.
The state and society view them as victims, and not as perpetrators. The lessons learnt and the good practices adopted by Sri Lanka in the process of rapidly restoring the future of these children are unique, Mr. Shavendra Silva said.
To assist the former LTTE combatants, including women, a vocational, technical and language training opportunities are offered under the “Accelerated Skills Acquisition Programme”. The “Nanasala”, or the centres of wisdom, is another such programme launched in the conflict affected areas to provide communitry based education to the youth of whom majority are females.
He said that as a matter of core national principles, the successive governments in Sri Lanka have adopted consistent policies to promote gender equality.
The introduction of free education in 1945 gave equal opportunities for boys and girls to attend schools together, he said. Also the universal franchise introduced to the country in 1931, allowed men and women to participate in the country’s political system, he added.
"We thus believe these policies led Sri Lanka to become number 16 in Gender Equality, according to the global gender gap index," Major General Shavendra Silva said.
There has also been progress in the reform of gender discriminatory laws and increased awareness of gender and women’s rights issues among members of the public, he said.
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