The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN Hosts Seminar on the Impact of Education in the Implementation of the SDGS
May 27, 2016
The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations and the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development – NY co-hosted a seminar on education titled the Role of Education in the Implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda at the Mission premises on 25 May 2016. The discussion addressed innovative education concepts and solutions to build sustainable communities and global citizens. Speakers drew on lessons from Tanzania, Sri Lanka, United States of America and elsewhere to explore ways and means of bridging the economic and digital divide, by working with youth and adults, to increase literacy and technical skills, to empower marginalized communities, to allow for entrepreneurship and artistic expression and in doing so, to ensure that no one is left behind.
Chargé D’ Affaires and Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Sabarullah Khan in his welcome address noted that education was essential to achieving all of the new Sustainable Development Goals. He said that currently, 58 million children remain out of school – most of them girls. In addition, 250 million children are not learning basic skills, even though half of them have spent at least four years in school.
Turning to Sri Lanka’s own experience, Ambassador Khan said that Sri Lanka has a long history of education. Literacy rates and educational attainment levels rose steadily, after Sri Lanka became an independent nation in 1948, and today, the youth literacy rate, stands at 97 percent, he noted.
Ambassador Khan stated that Sri Lanka was one of the first countries in Asia to grant Universal Adult Franchise in 1931. Following this, the country enacted laws in 1939 and in 1945 to ensure free education for all. This enabled children from all walks of life to gain free access to education. The right to a free education was now enshrined in the Sri Lankan Constitution, which also mandates compulsory schooling between the ages of 5 and 16, he also said.
Mr. Khan further said that In order to address the root causes of conflict Sri Lanka was committed to the idea of education as a means of social cohesion. The government had already taken steps to incorporate national unity and reconciliation as a pillar within the education sector, and had begun to mainstream reconciliation into policy, curriculum, teacher education and co-curricular activities and to promote these concepts through the twining of schools and by setting up programs for students and teachers, he noted.
The Ambassador said that while Sri Lanka still faces many challenges, State policies have consistently shown a real commitment to the quality education of its people, and that Sri Lanka believes that it is our national responsibility, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Sri Lanka’s goal was to make the “the nearest school the best school” through the provision of an excellently managed school system consisting of all physical and human resources for the creation of a dignified future generation, without any racial, religious or cast discrimination the Ambassador also said.
Speakers included Ms. Marie Paule Roudil, Director of UNESCO Liaison Office in New York, Mr. Narinder Kakar, Permanent Observer of the University of Peace to the United Nations, Ms. La Neice Collins, Communications Officer for the United Nations Academic Impact, Ms. Paige Propper-Sanborn, Co-founder and President of the Zariki Nursery and Primary School in Tanzania, Ms. Lirone Glikman, Founder and Innovator of Global Impact Alliances Project, and Mr. Iran Nazario , Director of Peacebuilders and Community Relations at COMPASS youth Collaborative.