As an opportunity to mark the 10th anniversary of the Learning to Live Together Programme, Arigatou International Geneva with the support of local stakeholders organized a symposium on Learning to Live Together in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, General Secretary of Sarvodaya Movement and long-standing partner of Arigatou International, made introductory remarks during the event. Dr. Ariyaratne spoke about Sarvodaya’s relationship with Arigatou international, highlighting previous experiences using the Learning to Live Together Programme reaching out seven districts and organizing peace camps for more than 560 children as well interfaith activities. He also spoke about the development of the manual, its inclusive nature and the need for Learning to Live Together in the current Sri Lankan context.
Mrs. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Arigatou International Geneva, presented the key aspects of the programme highlighting implementations in different contexts and lessons learned during the past 10 years. She explained the ethics education framework of the Learning to Live Together and how it has helped address issues of violence, interfaith learning, children’s empowerment and support to quality education.
The main panel, composed of Ven. Galkande Dhammananda, Chairperson, Walpola Rahula Institute; Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, Former Anglican Bishop of Colombo; Mr. S. Muralitharan, Director Peace Education, and Reconciliation (PERU), Ministry of Education; Dr. Sunil Wijesiriwardena, Education, and Conflict Transformation Expert, reflected on the challenges and opportunities to further Learning to Live Together in Sri Lanka through the education system.
They reflected on the local context of post-armed conflict reconciliation, need for inter-ethnic and inter-faith learning, strengthening teacher capacity to meaningfully address these sensitivities and broader educational reforms towards strengthening national unity and coexistence. Some of the panelists addressed the need to look into current religious education to ensure that it provides spaces for learning from one another and foster inclusion.
Following the panel discussions, the audience had the opportunity to share their opinions, ask questions and dialogue through a plenary discussion. Participants at the symposium included religious leaders, educationists, school teachers, civil society activists, government officials, UN staff, parents and other professionals.
The symposium generated interest from several stakeholder groups in terms of the use of the Learning to Live Together programme in Sri Lanka and a Learning to Live Together Facilitator Training Workshop is expected to take place in Colombo in June 2018 as a follow-up.