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Empowering youth a human right and investment – UNDP Rep in SL



Robert Juhkam, Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka

The National Youth Dialogue (NYD) on Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is an annual national youth engagement exercise led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka.

This year, too in adapting to the new normal, the National Youth Dialogue for 2020/2021 presented a fully virtual participant experience, via Zoom, spanning over five weeks, from Feb 16 to March 18 and included 28 sessions under 10 themes with over 100 speakers and facilitators joining in to share their stories, expertise and experiences with over 2000 participants, the UNDP said.

Together with Youth CO: Lab, the UNDP Asia Pacific programme on youth co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, NYD Sri Lanka is part of a family of National Youth Dialogues held each year in more than 20 countries across Asia and the Pacific region.

Speaking at the virtual closing ceremony, Robert Juhkam, Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka, stated, “Through existing and scaled up platforms for youth, such as the NYD and the HackaDev programme, UNDP Sri Lanka remains steadfast in our support to GoSL and other sectors to continue to build an alliance around youth development – create new partnerships and collaborations, and strengthen existing ones which will be the foundation upon which we can collectively invest our efforts and resources to provide an improved service offering. Empowering youth is both a human right based imperative and a needed investment to build forward better.”

The annual event serves as a national platform to foster meaningful youth participation and learning and engages a diverse group of young people across the island to set the agenda for youth policy action on the part of UNDP and its partners. The event also showcases the impact of UNDP Sri Lanka’s umbrella youth programme- HackaDev.

Speaking on her experiences as a participant this year, Zahra Taha noted, “This platform helped me identify the access points around me to new knowledge, resources, professional expertise support systems, new technologies and also awareness on crucial topics. I wish to highlight that the online experience that we gained through NYD was extraordinary. The interactive nature of the sessions using many online tools, kept the program lively and interesting.”

The event comprised thought and action provoking mini dialogues and innovative learning and development offerings, carefully curated for the benefit of youth.

Highlighting the Government’s role in engaging with youth, Theshara Jayasinghe, Chairman – National Youth Services Council, stated, “It is important to focus on how young people can come forward and lead, challenge existing notions and the status quo, and take risks in being innovative and entrepreneurial. This is why I am pleased that UNDPs National Youth Dialogue, not just in Sri Lanka, but across Asia and the Pacific region, through the Youth Co:Lab programme, has a heavy and consistent focus on these three key elements – leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship”.

The National Youth Dialogue tackled two main issues for young people; the post pandemic new normal and the decade of action towards realizing the sustainable development goals by the year 2030. Under this, a wide range of thematic areas covered during the dialogue included climate change, peace, gender, community engagement, personal development, arts and sports, digital citizenship, education, skills and employment opportunities.

Speaking of their role as an implementing partner of the project, Ravin Basnayake, Country Officer, Citi Sri Lanka Sri Lanka, noted, “We believe youth engagements such as the National Youth Dialogue helps in fostering learning and the development of future leaders, who can face the development challenges of today. This is why Citi Foundation together with UNDP created the Youth Co:Lab programme in the Asia and the Pacific Region and we are very happy about the impact of the programme thus far”.

Facilitators comprised of resource personnel from diverse fields including international athletes, global tech giants, private sector leaders, public officials, education reformists, media influencers and peacebuilders. The sessions were made possible through the efforts of over 25 partner and collaborator organizations, including six UN agencies.

Addressing the gathering Eric Falt, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka stated, “As countries around the world consider their post COVID-19 policy options, through your leadership, innovative ideas, and entrepreneurial spirit, we need you to step up and re-engineer the post COVID world to make it more peaceful, just and where no one hopefully is left behind.”

The National Dialogue in Sri Lanka was convened in partnership with Biodiversity Sri Lanka, Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU), Vocational Training Authority (VTA) of Sri Lanka, Citi, Cisco, Centre for Communication Training, WHO Sri Lanka, UNESCO New Delhi Cluster Office, UNICEF Sri Lanka, UNFPA Sri Lanka, UNV Sri Lanka, HackaDev, Hashtag Generation, neOOne Associates, Sri Lanka Association for Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM), Citra Social Innovation Lab and Facebook.

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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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