Empowering Jaffna youth | Daily News

Empowering Jaffna youth

Due to the 30 year civil war the youth lost their innocence and their physical infrastructure. They lost so many educational opportunities and skill development. They also lost their dreams. The Daily News speaks to National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka, Divakar Ratnadurai on how SOS is helping the youth of Jaffna to reclaim the rights any human being is entitled to at birth.

“SOS Children’s villages in a nutshell is an organization that helps children in need and children who need parental care and children who are at the risk of losing parental care. The new addition to the priority list of SOS is the Vocational Training Centre in Jaffna. After the war we built a village in Jaffna. Through this we found out that these youth need proper employment so they can have an income to support their families, be self- sufficient and their home economies will flourish,” said Ratnadurai.

Divakar Ratnadurai

Ratnadurai pointed out some of the Jaffna youth are highly qualified but during an interview they cannot answer in English and they want to do it in the local language.

“We did a survey to assess the needs in Jaffna. So we did this very good survey concerning employment. We found that there is a need for training in English, then there is also a need for training in Information and Communications technology, there is a demand for beauty culture trainers and Air condition making and fridge making technicians,” said Ratnadurai.

SOS got into action after receiving the results of this survey. So they began building the vocational training center in Jaffna.

“We decided to cater to 60 students and now we have sixty students in these four courses and now for the four courses we have full capacity. And they are accredited to National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 3. We don’t go for NVQ level 4 or 5. As soon as you do that you lose the target. NVQ Level 3 is the equivalent of an O/L pass. We are concentrating on NVQ level 3 because most of the youth who come for these courses have either not got through their O/L or they are from very poor families. The criteria for selection is they need to be below the poverty line and have been unable to continue their education,” explained Ratnadurai.

The government has recognized NVQ Level 3 as O/L pass. NVQ Level 4 is A/L pass. Once they finish this course of NVQ level 3 certain organizations have come forward to support them for on the job training.

“So we want to take this youngsters out of Jaffna so they can get exposure outside. They will be sent for on the job training. But for English and ICT it will be a little difficult. For Air Conditioning and Fridge making there are some companies that have come to help these youngsters. They will be given an allowance. For six months they will be given on the job training. They will come back and do the assessment test. And then they will get the certificate. Once they get the certificates they will be taken for employment. Our plan is to monitor them for three years. This is to make sure they are steady and they don’t fall back,” pointed out Ratnadurai.

Ratnadurai commented that they are also thinking about self- employment for these youngsters. But this is still being considered. For air conditioning and beauty culture training they will go for on the job training and thereafter they will go for jobs.

“I personally think that for beauty culture they will not go for jobs. They will get the training and then start something of their own. There is a high demand for beauty culture in Jaffna with weddings and dressing ups. Because they have to bring people down from Colombo. So these youth have a very good chance, because casually when I was talking to these girls they said they want a good experience and start their own businesses. There are not many saloons in Jaffna so they have to get their experience in Anuradhapura and Colombo. Colombo is actually better. So this is the plan for the vocational training center. We actually opened it in March. The first course will be over in October or November. We don’t want to select youth with funds. We want to select youth under the poverty line. So they can benefit from this and their family becomes stronger,” added Ratnadurai.

The aim of SOS Sri Lanka is to be self-sufficient by 2023. So there are challenges in store for SOS Sri Lanka. But there is a lot of support from the people of Sri Lanka. Jaffna is the fourth vocational training center in Sri Lanka. The first one was in Anuradhapura. Moneragala is the largest one.

“The reason we started these vocational training centers is not only to support the youngsters in the area but also the children who have lost parental care. If they are living in a home then they have they fulfill the first requirement to enter a vocational training center. Because we know they need support. There a lot of problems youngsters face when they don’t have their parents,” said Ratnadurai.

The Vocational Training Authority in Sri Lanka are the people who can give these levels. Once you register with them, they give all the syllabus. NVQ Level 7 is equal to a degree.

“We have NVQ 3 which is the basic so they can be employed. Our main vision is to give them employment so they have money in their hands and they have proper employment and proper qualification,” said Ratnadurai.

The idea is to make this sustainable to these youngsters do not need to depend on others. All this is given free of charge. It is all free and the response is great. So this is a learning experience for all involved. All that is required is dedication, discipline and desire from these youngsters. If they are committed they can do very well. They just need to be focused. Their destiny is in their hands. They can choose to succeed or fail. SOS wants the best for these youngsters.


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