Teachers have vital role to play in changing war culture - FES

[TamilNet, Sunday, 29 June 2003, 10:12 GMT]
"A change of mindset and a new positive vision for the future of Sri Lanka is required to overcome the existing culture of mistrust, prejudice, fear, suspicion, intolerance and violence," said Sri Lanka's resident representative of a German organization the Frederick Ebert Stiftung (FES), Mr.Dietmar Kneitschel, said Saturday while speaking at the inauguration of a two-day seminar on the "Rights of members in a trade union," in Vigneswara Maha Vidyalayam, Trincomalee, Saturday, sources said.

CTTU forum
FES Sri Lanka resident representative Mr.Dietmar Kneitschel
The seminar was organized by the Ceylon Tamil Teachers' Union (CTTU) supported by the FES and Education International.

CTTU delegates from the eastern province including about Tamil medium volunteer teachers who have been made permanent last week also attended the seminar.

This change of mindset has to take place on both sides of the ethnic divide. Unless such a new culture of mutual respect, confidence, co-operation and compromise isdeveloped simultaneously on both sides, it will be difficult to find a stable solution to the conflict and build a peaceful future, said Mr.Dietmar Kneitschel delivering his keynote address.

He added, "But there is no choice. War is no longer a rational option and has never been. Peace based on democracy and justice is an imperative for all communities, which live in Sri Lanka. Teachers and their organizations should play a vital role in changing the existing culture of war into a culture of peace and reconciliation."

CTTU forum
A group Tamil medium volunteer teachers in northeast province who have been made permanent with effect from June 19 after their forty one days demonstration in front of the NE education ministry office are seen going to attend the CTTU seminar for the first time
Since Sri Lanka is caught in a protracted ethno-political armed conflict, peace education or teaching the principles and methods of how to respect each other and how to regulate and solve conflicts in a non-violent manner is another task of teachers and their unions. There is no other profession with a greater responsibility for reconciliation and transformation of the still existing mindset of confrontation, suspicion and violence than that of teachers, stressed FES resident representative in Sri Lanka.

"The primary task of a trade union is working for the economic interests of its members, that means higher salaries and better working condition. A teachers' union is no exception to this rule. However a teachers' union cannot be satisfied with just fighting for the economic interest of teachers. It should also fight for the rights and interests of its 'clients,' the students. That means it should do every thing to improve the quality and efficiency of the educational system so that students would receive quality education," Mr.Dietmar Kneitschel said.

CTTU Education and Cultural Affairs Secretary Mr. N.Rajanathan presided.

CTTU general secretary Mr.T.Mahasivam made the welcome speech and the vote of thanks.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) was founded in 1925 as a political legacy of Germany's first democratically elected president, Friedrich Ebert. The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung maintains its own representations in 70 countries of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. 70 German staff are posted in these countries at present and - with the assistance of numerous local staff - are engaged in projects in the fields of socio-political development and economic and social promotion.

CTTU forum
a section of teachers attending the CTTU seminar

CTTU forum
FES Sri Lanka resident representative Mr.Dietmar Kneitschel delivering keynote address


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