The year 2006 was declared 'The National
Year of the Child,' by President Mahinda Rajapakse,
in February this year. Keeping this in mind, 'Save the
Children in Sri Lanka,' organised the National Children's
Forum for The Year of the Child 2006. They understood
the importance of children needing a way to express
their thought and views. Therefore meetings and workshops
were organised to gather the views of children around
|at the workshop
The kids were placed in two age groups,
11 - 14 and 15 - 18 years. Through the meetings held,
the children expressed themselves and their many problems
were identified. These meetings were held on a district
basis in July and August this year. The issues raised
were brought up at workshops which were held on September
30, 2006. The representatives then went through these
issues and selected those that can be considered national
The issues that were finally presented
on Children's Day, October 1, were Education, Health,
Safety & Security and Recreation. This session was
held at the BMICH. Sumedha G. Jayasena, Minister for
Children's Development, Ferial Ashraff, Minister for
Housing Construction and A. H. M. Fowzie, Minister for
Railways and Transport were present at the forum.
An interesting aspect and also the
highlight of the forum was when the children were able
to ask questions from the Parliament Members.
Questions like why their schools were
being used as military and welfare camps, how their
schools get ruined when internally displaced persons
use them and why they can't leave their schools, were
|at the national forum
They also raised the issue about not
having teachers for particular subjects and that they
should look for teachers in the respective areas so
that the issue with outstation teachers will reduce.
All these led to how their education was being disrupted.
The children even posed to the MP
the suggestion of including children when going into
When the kids were questioned about
racial problems they stated that among this group, there
were no ethnic and racial problems. Most of the issues
were based on war and politics so what the children
said was that if most of the problems are due to politics
that the politicians need to do something and make a
change. In return the children were made to understand
that change would not be easy.
It must also be noted that these kids
spoke a lot of sense, were well behaved, composed and
were very dignified in how they handled the forum. The
kids spent two days together and were sad to leave each
other at the end of the programme.
Speaking to Maleec Calyaneratne, Co-ordinator
Media and Communications, Save the Children in Sri Lanka
she said, "the next step will be to take some of
these ideas forward," to help these and other children
in our country and to make a difference for them.