Australia is contributing LKR 1 bn (A$10 million) to rebuildor repair 23 schools in the Northern Province. The schools will serve up to 12,000 children. The Australian High Commissioner, HE Ms Robyn Mudie, officially opened Kilinochchi Maha Vidyalayam which has 2000 students, at a ceremony on Friday(15).
Ms Mudie said: “The Australian Government is very pleased to be able to make such a significant contribution to the lives of children and families in Kilinochchi. These buildings will help the community to continue to rebuild.”
The opening was attended by local officials, parents, teachers and students. The school was funded by Australia and built in partnership with UNICEF.
“We are particularly thankful to Australia for their generous contribution to improve education in Sri Lanka” said the UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative Reza Hossaini.
“And we are grateful for the partnership between Australia, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF.”
“After the war we used to study under the trees, but now thanks to you we have a newschool” said Kouthika, a student of the Kilinochchi school.
Kilinochchi Maha Vidyalayam, which was damaged during the conflict, is now home to 24 new classrooms, an open air theatre and an auditorium.
Ms Mudie said: ““Physical damage to schools is among the most disastrous effects ofconflict. It destroys not only a familiar and important part of the local community, but can affect children’s educational experience for many years. The newly constructed buildings will provide a better learning environment, with larger classrooms and improved facilities.”
The school’s principal, Mr. A. Pangayatselvan who has seen his school undergo a rapid transformation, said “We are grateful to the people of Australia, the Government of Australia and UNICEF for providing these buildings. Our students are very happy and prepared to study.”
In addition to funding the reconstruction of the school, Australia has also funded teachers at the school to be trained in ‘child-centred’ teaching methodologies, a proven way to help children improve their learning outcomes.
“The substantial funding by Australia is not limited to construction of school buildings. Australia has played an equally important key role in improving the quality of teaching and learning through expansion of the Child Friendly Approach,” Mr Hossaini said.
Since UNICEF piloted the Child Friendly Approach in 1,500 schools around the country, the Government has adopted child friendly standards as the basis for all basic education learning in the country.
Australia has worked in partnership with UNICEF in Sri Lanka since the mid 1990s.
UNICEF’s support to education in Sri Lanka centres on advocating for quality approaches to learning and teaching, promoting peace education and social cohesion and ensuring that vulnerable and out of school children have opportunities to learn.
The A$10 million funding school reconstruction is part of Australia’s development cooperation program with Sri Lanka, which will total more than AUD40 million in 2012-13.
Australian development assistance focuses primarily on health, education and sustainable economic development, with programs located in lagging regions across the country.