A YEAR IN
SRI LANKA 2010
A brick mould is prepared as part of latrine construction
in Sri Lanka
why Plan works in Sri Lanka
• Helping to provide a good education for children from preschool level onwards
• 22 per cent of infants are born underweight • 8 per cent of children aged 5–14 are engaged in child labour
• Ensuring families and schools have access to clean water and decent sanitation, and adopt hygienic behaviour
• 62 per cent of adults cannot read and write
• Improving families’ ability to produce food and offering them access to financial services • Promoting children’s rights and ensuring their voices and opinions are heard in their communities
This preschool is run by one of 50 teachers who graduated from Plan teacher training
Sri Lanka Facts Capital: Colombo Population: 21.3 million Languages: Sinhalese, Tamil
and English are the main languages Climate: The climate of Sri Lanka is tropical and warm. The mean temperature ranges from about 16°C in the central highlands to a maximum of approximately 33°C in other low-altitude areas. Economy: In the 19th and 20th Centuries, Sri Lanka became a plantation economy, famous for its production and export of cinnamon, rubber and Ceylon tea, which remains a trademark national export. From 1977
the UNP government began incorporating privatisation, deregulation and promotion of private enterprise. While the production and export of agricultural commodities remains important, the nation has moved steadily towards an industrialised economy with the development of food processing, textiles, telecommunications and finance. In recent years the economy was buoyed by an influx of foreign aid and tourists. This was disrupted with the re-emergence of the civil war. Hostilities officially ended in May 2009.
‘Once my dream is realised I want to make a better life for my mother and support the children with skills and potential’
SRI LANKA Country Office Program Units
child protection and participation We want children from the poorest families in Sri Lanka to be protected from harm and enjoy their right to grow up as valued members of their communities. We support birth registration campaigns so children are recognised in law. We are working to reduce corporal punishment, support young people to give up alcohol or drugs and encourage
children’s participation in community development, using media like radio to ensure their voices are heard. We also work with partners like the police to protect children from abuse.
This school radio club is popular with students
The Bigger Picture
Wasantha a chance
If the neighbours need any electrical items fixed in their village in Anuradhapura, northwest Sri Lanka, they take them along to Wasantha. Even though he’s only 16 years old and still at school, he can repair almost anything. When he’s older, Wasantha wants to be a broadcasting engineer. It’s a respectable ambition anywhere in the world, but for someone of Wasantha’s background, it’s extraordinary. Wasantha’s father died when he was very young, leaving his mother struggling to provide for the family. ‘I had to depend on my 47-yearold mother ... owning only a single-roomed house with a roof of damaged palm leaves,’ he recalls. Wasantha, his mother and brother are among thousands of the poorest families in Sri Lanka. Although she works hard, Wasantha’s mother has not always been able to earn enough to meet the family’s needs. When she couldn’t afford the cost of food or school items, Wasantha had to give up some of his free time to help with her work. Studying had to take second priority and sadly, when Wasantha took the exam to go on to higher education, he failed. Children’s radio Without education, it seemed as if Wasantha would have little chance of forging a better future for himself and leaving poverty behind. But his headmaster had recognised a skill that would give him a new lease of life. ‘When [Wasantha] was in year 10 and 11 he showed skills on technical activities, especially on electronic appliances,’ says the headmaster. ‘I gave him the space to repair the technical faults of school equipments and the teachers in charge of technical subjects supported him.’ Then Plan came to Wasantha’s school to work with pupils on setting up a school radio unit. Radio is an essential part of Plan’s work to make sure children’s voices are heard in their communities, giving them the opportunity to share their views on issues that matter to them.
Produced for Sri Lanka by Plan International Australia.
There are currently around 13 radio clubs in schools around Anuradhapura. With support from partners like the Rajarata Sevaya, one of the leading regional radio stations under the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation, Plan offers children the chance to make their own radio programs, from planning the content and conducting interviews to getting the program on air. Increased confidence Using media like radio and children’s newspapers has proven a very successful way for children to become involved in the development of their schools and communities. Taking part in the project teaches children new skills, gives them recognition for their opinions and raises their self-esteem. At each school radio unit, the children are trained on all aspects of radio production and taught how to put a program together, but the choice of what to broadcast is theirs. Their programs cover any subject, from corporal punishment to the need to protect children’s health with good hygiene. With his talent for electronics, Wasantha was the natural choice to lead the technical team for radio at his school. It has been a huge success. Not only has Wasantha got his school radio unit up and running, he’s also trained his fellow pupils on how to operate it. More than this, he’s been asked to share his knowledge with neighbouring schools working with Plan on radio programming.
Plan is working with children, families and communities to find sustainable solutions to the challenges in Sri Lanka. We have only given you a small insight into Plan’s work in Sri Lanka with this report but over the past year we also: • Protected children’s health by training 850 health volunteers in topics like first aid and maternal nutrition • Set up 130 ‘Maths Labs’ in communities working with Plan, to improve the standard of mathematics teaching for children • Worked with communities to build 11 new local roads, enabling nearly 400 families in remote villages to access services and local markets • Supported birth registration in central Sri Lanka with mobile registration camps and awareness sessions Your support as a sponsor is crucial to achieving these results. With the resources provided by sponsors, Plan expertise and the collaboration of communities and local partners we are making a big difference to the lives of people in Sri Lanka. Thank you for your involvement!
To learn more about Plan’s work in Sri Lanka visit plan.org.au/ourwork/asia/srilanka
With each achievement, Wasantha’s confidence has grown. He now feels ready to tackle the Advanced Level exam again. He dreams of qualifying as a broadcasting engineer and using his knowledge to help his family and other children in the community. ‘Once my dream is realised I want to make a better life for my mother and support the children with skills and potential,’ he says.
‘Taking part in the project teaches children new skills, gives them recognition for their opinions and raises their self-esteem.’