Skill development programme in Vanni

[TamilNet, Monday, 04 August 2003, 21:57 GMT]
The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) in Sri Lanka and the North East Provincial Council, on behalf of the North East Community Restoration and Development (NECORD), last week signed an agreement to implement a Skill Development Programme in the districts of Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya in the LTTE-held Vanni region, sources said.

Field Director Mr.Patrick Brochard on behalf of the WUSC and Chief Secretary of the NEPC, Mr.S.Rangarajah, on behalf of the NECORD signed it in Trincomalee, sources said.

The skill development programme is to be implemented under the Project for Rehabilitation through Education and Training (PRET) of the WUSC through local partners at a cost of 41.17 million rupees and the duration of the project will be two years, NECORD Project Director Mr.T.Lankaneson said.

Four hundred local youths in the districts of Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Killinochchi would undergo vocational training courses in masonry, house wiring, plumbing and carpentry under the PRET, he added.

The purpose of the PRET is to enhance the standard of living of poor, under and unemployed women and youth, through the removal of barriers to the acquisition of skills required for employment and the promotion of economic development, sources said.

According to a study by the WUSC, the vocational training sector is very weak in the northern districts of Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Killinochchi. There are no public or private technical schools in these districts. The Department of Education’s Non Formal Education Unit conducts traditional classes at the school levels for a few hours for school students. Their budget for this purpose is minimal. WUSC has provided support to some programs through both institutional and vocational training.

WUSCE surveys found that the need for vocational training is high in these northern districts and there is a high demand for training which offer practical skills.

" Traditionally, the economy of the northern districts is agriculture-based. The high number of displacement has brought uncertainty and instability, which has had a devastating effect on the agricultural and business sectors. There are many displaced people in the area and unemployment is quite high. Due to displacement, many young students drop out of school early and are unable to find employment because of lack of marketable skills," said a PRET report on unemployment problems in the northern districts.

On poverty, the PRET report said," the ongoing conflict has had a significant impact in the northern region. In addition to the social and personal toll, economic activity has been substantatially disrupted. The conflict has damaged or destroyed much of the infrastructure. Thousands of people have been displaced, losing homes, businesses and economic opportunity. Mobility continues to be an issue, further restricting opportunities. There are significant numbers of female-headed households which tend to live in even greater poverty than their male led counterparts."

PRET objectives of providing marketable vocational skills, enhanced capacity of local training institutions and supportive communities will play a role in poverty reduction in the programming districts. Vocational training will provide an opportunity for the target population to rise out of poverty, the report said.

" If youth are not provided employment skills, few options are available to them. Mobility issues remain, so the youth in the northern regions will remain living in poverty or will gravitate towards militant groups there by continuing the cycle of violence," the PRET report added.

WUSC commenced implementation of the PRET in 1989. The PRET project is currently being implemented in ten districts in Sri Lanka, namely, Batticaloa, Amparai, Trincomalee, Matara, Badulla, Hambantota, Moneragala, Vavuniya, Mannar and Anuradhapura, sources said.

" Due to the war for over two decades in the northeast, a large number of people were displaced and no development works were undertaken in the north, especially in Vanni districts, Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya. The society was so weak that they were unable to catch up the opportunity, as they do not have the capacity to undertake contracts and due to acute dearth for local skilled workers. Because of this, implementing agencies are finding it difficult to carry out rehabilitation projects in these districts,” said an official involved in rehabilitation works in the Vanni region.

He added, " for example, when we called for open bidding to undertake development and rehabilitation projects in LTTE held Vanni districts, contractors and skilled workers from south of the country compete and do these contracts because of less capacity and dearth for skilled workers locally. Now the opportunity has come for the people in the northern districts to develop their capacity and skill to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure and to generate more employment for local workers."


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