Vocational and technical training for 35 pc youths by 2016 -
The government is planning to provide
vocational and technical training for 35 percent of youths by 2016 under
the Mahinda Chinthanaya. Plans are also underway to increase state
university intake up to 10 percent. The government also provided
vocational and technical training to over 100,000 youths in state
institutions in 2011, Sri Lanka Freedom Party Treasurer and Youth
Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dullas Alahapperuma says.
The minister in an interview with the Daily
News also touched on facts and historical events that have a direct link
to political developments and current affairs in Sri Lanka.
Q: How are you planning to solve the issue of unemployment
A: Unemployment has become a single digit in Sri Lanka today.
The percentage of unemployment at national level is less than six
percent. The percentage of unemployment among youths is a little higher
than the national percentage.
The main reason for this is our education and economic system.
Persons who do not get university education were sidelined in society
and in the economic process. The university became the core of
everything, such as, society, culture, politics and economy. But
unfortunately state universities accommodated only around five percent
of qualified students. The rest (95 percent) were left without a proper
future path, plan or programme.
Under the Mahinda Chinthanaya - Vision for the Future, President
Mahinda Rajapaksa very clearly understood this situation and offered a
solution. He stressed the importance of increasing the intake for state
universities and looked into the issues of the rest.
University education is only one part of tertiary education.
Vocational and technical education was forgotten in the past. But under
the Mahinda Chinthanaya, the Youth Affairs and Skills Development
Ministry was set up to make Sri Lankan youths skillful. For the first
time in Sri Lankan history, it was accepted as a policy and a national
action plan was launched. Only less than five percent of qualified
students were admitted to state universities and around 14 percent
received vocational training or technical training in 2005.
Q: What are your plans for the ministry to push forward the
Mahinda Chinthanaya - Vision for the Future for 2012?
A: It is planned to provide vocational and technical training
for 35 percent of Sri Lankan youths by 2016 under the Mahinda
Chinthanaya and to increase the intake of state universities up to 10
We provided vocational and technical training for over 100,000 youths
in state institutions in 2011. If you take indicators in any developed
country, over 40 percent of students receive university education and
another 40 percent receive vocational and technical training. The 40
percent who obtain vocational and technical training can join
universities and obtain degrees at a later stage. We expect to do the
same in Sri Lanka under the Mahinda Chinthanaya - Vision for the Future.
Q: How do you interpret youth frustration which affected our
country from time to time in the past?
A: I do not agree with the word 'youth frustration’. This word
is the most inaccurate, silly and meaningless word used during the past
decades. This word cannot be matched with the real character of Sri
Lankan youths. After the 1971 youth insurgency, the then government
appointed a commission to find out the reason for youth frustration.
A commission was appointed to find the same thing after the youth
insurgency in 1988 and 1989. As the Youth Affairs Minister and a
government representative, I do not agree with the word 'frustration or
restlessness' because Sri Lankan youths do not have this problem. He or
she is very tolerant and patient. What made him or her restless is the
political, economic, social and cultural environment.
The society still very strongly believes that liberation is obtaining
a degree. This is why students commit suicide when he or she fails an
examination and an uneducated boyfriend kills his girlfriend who
qualifies to enter an educational college or university demanding not to
continue higher studies. The entire vision of the society should be
changed. We have to build a society that have faith in youths and
believe in them.
New youth problems were created while trying to implement the
recommendations of the commissions appointed to find a solution for the
so - called youth restlessness. For example, the 1971 commission stated
that the reason for youth uprising in the South was the minimal chances
they had to enter state universities. The government introduced the
Language Standard Act to solve the problem. Then the student from Matara
who scored 250 marks in the Advanced Level examination entered
university while the student from Jaffna who scored 275 marks, failed to
enter the same university. Uma Maheswaran of the LTTE said it (the new
university entrance system) was the best weapon they had to unite Tamil
youths against the government.
Later, the same was used by extremist Tamil politicians to provoke
Tamil youths against Sinhala youths and raise racism. There were good
recommendations such as allocating a certain percentage for youths in
nomination lists for Local Government and Provincial Council elections
Thousands of youths were killed during youth uprisings. Sri Lanka is
the only country which had three youth uprisings in 15 years. During the
third uprising, the LTTE used, killed and misled Tamil youths. We have
to make opportunities freely available for Sri Lankan youths. The
opportunities should be in all fields such as in education, sports,
employment, politics, society, culture etc. This is the need of the
Q: How can we use our youths to develop the country?
A: Sri Lanka received a valuable gift in 2006. That is, 25
percent of our total population consists of youth. But we did not
identify this because we were in a war waged by the LTTE.
Over 25 percent of the youthful population is a demographic bonus for
any country. This bonus comes during a fortunate period of a country. If
the leaders identify this, that country can be developed. If not, that
can be the misfortune of the country.
Nearly 27 percent of our population are between the ages of 15 and
29. These are youths. After 2018, this situation will change and the
elderly population will rapidly increase. Economists say that a large
elderly population is a burden for a country. This is the most fortunate
and blessed period of Sri Lanka. In Malaysia, persons between the ages
of 15 and 40 are considered as youths. We have to offer them all
possible opportunities in all fields and obtain their valuable
contribution towards the development of Sri Lanka.
Q: When, how, why and who destroyed ethnic harmony in Sri
A: Reconciliation is important for Sri Lanka after 30 years of
war. How can we build the Sri Lankan nation? Who created hatred among us
and when was this racism created? We have forgotten this now. We have to
remind and very clearly state racial hatred, jealousy and rat race among
ethnicities were created by the same countries and elements which
brought a resolution against Sri Lanka in Geneva, a few weeks ago.
During the colonial period, the UK divided Sri Lanka, like they did in
The African continent was divided into various tribes, religions and
races not because of their fault. It was done by colonialists who ruled
Africa to safeguard their power and exploit natural resources. Sri
Lankans did not have any problem among our ethnicities before the
colonial period. We lived together as one nation in peace and harmony.
The division created by colonialists caused the LTTE war.
The war took away thousands of Sri Lankan lives and billions worth
Q: What do you think about the LLRC report recommendations,
Geneva resolution etc?
A: We have peace here now. But we have to get rid of hatred
created in our minds by colonialists. This is what President Mahinda
Rajapaksa wants and always states. We have to build the Sri Lankan
nation. Western conspirers first came with the so-called 'Darusman
It became the 'ideal document’ for certain politicians in the
Opposition, INGOs and NGOs. According to them it was the 'path’ to
reconciliation. President Rajapaksa pointed out that it was fabricated
by a team which did not step into Sri Lanka and which did not listen to
He said we needed a home-grown solution and appointed the LLRC to
find the path for it.
The same politicians and NGOs then started to say that the commission
was a puppet of the government and it was totally biased. But when the
LLRC report was released, they discarded the Darusman report and grabbed
the LLRC report.
The Opposition leader criticised the LLRC report in Parliament on
February 10 and praised it on February 16. It is just like politicians
changing their clothes and religion for politics.
The President appointed it because he is sensitive towards issues
faced by the Tamil community. The report has over 700 pages and annexes.
There are many opinions in the LLRC report and various political
parties, groups and persons make comments on it.
The same racist elements which thanked the US and other countries for
passing the resolution against Sri Lanka, criticised the LLRC report and
rejected it in the past. They have the right to misunderstand and after
that understand the same.
Q: How about implementing the LLRC report recommendations?
A: How are we going to implement recommendations in this
report? Some of the good, positive, productive and viable
recommendations in the LLRC report have been implemented by the
government. For example, thousands of Tamil speaking Police officers are
serving in the North and East.
The government has also implemented a trilingual policy. We need an
in-depth dialogue in our society when implementing the recommendations
in the report.
Peace is not eradicating the LTTE. We have to get rid of the reasons
that enabled the LTTE to mislead the Tamil youths and commit suicide. We
have to address those facts. All reports should talk about that. We have
to discuss the reason or reasons that gave birth to the LTTE.
Q: Why does Sri Lanka need time and space to implement the
LLRC report recommendations?
A: Some local politicians, NGOs and foreign countries demand
to implement the LLRC report. Sri Lanka has previous experiences on
implementing recommendations and solutions without consulting the Sri
Lankan people. The results of those implementations were nasty. One was
the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord. Nobody, including the Cabinet and
Parliament was consulted before the accord was implemented. A large
number of Indian Peace Keeping Force soldiers were killed. The North and
the rest of the country became a battle field. The Ceasefire Agreement
between the Opposition leader and LTTE leader Prabhakaran followed. It
was a secret and nobody was consulted. Even his own Parliamentary group
was not aware about it. This type of individual decisions cannot be
taken on behalf of the country. The country has bitter experiences and
they cost many years, lives and resources for Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans are
not rats living inside a laboratory to test similar individual
There has to be an 'enemy’ to do everything including politics. This
is how division was introduced into the minds of Sri Lankans by
colonialists. We always need an enemy. Everything, including the media,
promotes this deadly concept. We have to brainwash and remove this idea
from the minds of the people and media to build the Sri Lankan nation.
Because of this existing system, anti-social persons such as thugs and
drug lords enter politics and Parliament. Political parties do not have
a place and only 'persons’ have recognition. No value exists for a
political party. The person who can spend money and get people's votes
has become an asset for any political party.
There is no use of manifestos for political parties now under this
situation. We have to get rid of this entire system which brings in anti
- social persons. If this continues, the entire society will continue to
recognise local politicians as thugs and corrupted persons. We will not
allow the LLRC report recommendations do this.
Q: How will the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) help
solve the ethnic issue?
A: We proposed a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to get
together and discuss the recommendation of the LLRC report. Since all
political parties in Parliament take part in the PSC, it becomes the
best place to have an in-depth discussion on the LLRC report
recommendations. I request the main Opposition UNP not to play the
historical and traditional role of the Opposition once again. All
Oppositions played the same role in the past, including the SLFP. As the
SLFP Treasurer, I clearly say without fear that the SLFP did the same
wrong thing just as any other past Opposition political party by
opposing all the time all solutions.
Q: Are you satisfied with the behaviour of Sri Lankan
political parties when it comes to solving the ethnic issue?
A: I request the UNP not to play the traditional role of the
Opposition this time. The TNA should not act like agents of the LTTE any
longer. They do this. They divide society once again. The TNA in the
past acted as agents of the LTTE. They have now to move forward. There
are Tamil leaders in the TNA who respect democracy and who have years of
experience in politics. The TNA is a recognised political party among
the majority of the Tamil community. We respect that. It is time now for
the TNA to take a new turn and come out from the LTTE grip that does not
exist any more.
Q: What next after 'Geneva resolution’?
A: After the Geneva resolution, the Sri Lankan society which
moved towards reconciliation very successfully, got affected by dividing
ideas and feelings. The resolution renewed separatism and created a new
dividing line in the Sri Lankan society. Separatism got a new life after
the resolution. There are no international juries to investigate this.
The Sri Lankan government and I as a Cabinet minister, respect the UN.
Sri Lanka is a member of UN and it is an honour for us to be a UN
member. But now, the UN symbol has turned into a weapon called 'human
rights’. This weapon has been given to world super powers to threaten
The UN has double standards when it comes to human rights and
terrorism. This weapon has become a new colonial tool that controls
small nations. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadiragamar pointed this out
before he was assassinated by the LTTE. We tell the UN with all respect
not to let powerful nations use human rights as a tool or a weapon to
abuse or exploit small powerless nations. We thank the US for banning
the LTTE and also tell them not to pull our leg now because we are on
our way towards development and reconciliation. India helped Sri Lanka
eradicate terrorism in the best possible way amidst major internal
problems. We have to get together to hold an in-depth discussion and
solve this problem. We have to offer possible opportunities in all
fields to Tamil youths.
Q: What do you think about the 'destructive mentality’ that
exist in some persons’ minds which lead to crimes, etc?
A: The 30 - year war and conflict created a certain mentality
in the Sri Lankan society including all Sri Lankans, media and Armed
Forces. Some still cannot recover from this mentality. This is post war
situation. The Sri Lankan media ignored all these facts. The biggest
hazard against this is the tribal and ignorant political culture in the
Our education and political system should be held directly
responsible for the society’s destructive mentality. The rat race was
brought by the educational and political system. The rat race now is
unbearable and siblings kill each other because of the rat race in
society. This happens when there are no adequate opportunities in the
country and society.
We always try to bribe and avoid the queue because there are limited
opportunities which should be obtained by obeying rules or by force. We
slash the seat of a bus because we do not have such a good seat at home.
This mental rage is caused due to the lack of opportunities. We do not
know each other’s language. This is a tiny island with only two
languages. This cause racial rage.
Language means culture. After getting to know their culture, nobody
will hate one another.
Q: Your special message to the Sri Lankan public?
A: President Mahinda Rajapaksa said there are no minorities in
this country. This statement should have been made by late Prime
Minister D S Senanayake in 1948 from Independence Square. Today, we are
paying for the political mistakes made by previous politicians. It took
us 64 years to clean the drainage system at Wellawatta. There were 12
leaders in Sri Lanka. It only happens today. Everything cannot be done
through law. Today, all thugs and corrupted persons try to creep into
politics because of the benefits in politics. Discipline is something
that we can build up.
We have only one message for Sri Lanka's younger generation. We trust
Sri Lankan youths and we do not suspect them. We are dedicated to offer
them all opportunities everywhere. We hope to build a new, peaceful and
developed Sri Lanka through our young generation. Youths are our
treasure. We request your contribution for all these things.